ACT Preparation

The ACT is a 3-hour and 35-minute college admissions exam (or 2 hours and 55 minutes without the optional essay).

Our ACT Program

Our approach to the ACT is educational; we teach the core concepts in grammar, math, reading, science, and writing that comprise the foundation of material tested on the ACT. After completing our comprehensive program, students are not only prepared to succeed on the ACT but also see improvements across all their academic work.

Throughout our long-term, rigorous ACT program, students will have weekly meetings, complete homework assignments, and take full-length, proctored practice tests, all helping them learn, practice, and master the material. Students reach a deep understanding of ACT’s underlying concepts and develop efficient problem-solving strategies for every type of question on the test.

Contact us to speak to a program consultant to discuss your goals and schedule a diagnostic ACT.

Program Length

We recommend that students prepare for the ACT for at least a year before taking their first official test. The precise length of our ACT program depends on several factors, including:

  • the student's tutoring needs
  • when the student begins working with us
  • the student's goals
  • the number of meetings the student has with the tutor each week
  • the date when the student plans to take the official test

English Test

We teach grammatical and syntactical principles as well as idiomatic expression and rhetoric, and we train students to develop a critical eye for editing what they read. Students often find that the skills that help them improve their accuracy on the ACT English Test also improve their writing in their other academic work.

Mathematics Test

We emphasize the principles underlying the recurring math question types on the ACT. Students practice these concepts in targeted worksheets, problem sets, and summary reviews. Our tutors also show students how to use their calculator effectively on the math section.

Reading Test

Through our ACT program, students will learn how to understand college-level reading material in a range of subject areas. We help students become more attuned to the significance of word choice and more adept with methods for discerning an author's meaning—skills that are useful for the ACT and in students’ continued academic careers.

Science Test

Our students become familiar with basic concepts in biology, chemistry, earth and space sciences, and physics so that they can process any given scientific information efficiently and accurately. Our science materials emphasize interpreting, analyzing, and evaluating scientific text and data.

Writing Test

Though the ACT essay is optional, most competitive colleges require it. We emphasize the fundamental structure and fluidity of expression inherent in a strong written composition. Through essay practice, students gain confidence in expressing and developing their ideas in an organized and well-written essay with limited time to reflect upon the topic and perspectives.

Should students take the SAT or the ACT?

All major colleges accept the SAT and the ACT with equal preference. When deciding whether to take the SAT or the ACT, students should not speculate. Diagnostic testing and routine practice will dictate which test is best suited for the individual student.

We generally recommend that students complete a few months of tutoring before selecting to prepare for either the SAT or ACT. During this period, each student should take an SAT and an ACT diagnostic test. The results of the diagnostics in addition the student’s preferences and goals will help us advise an appropriate test regimen.

In the first few months of the program, our tutors focus on imparting the core material—including math concepts, grammar rules, and reading skills—relevant to both the SAT and the ACT. After deciding which test better suits each student’s goals and abilities, our tutors will incorporate materials specific to the student's chosen test and develop a rigorous practice test schedule.

What are the differences between the SAT and the ACT?

The ACT and the SAT are both prominent college admissions tests. Both assess the educational development of high school students and the ability to perform college level work. However, the ACT and the SAT are different educational instruments with different emphases.

 

SAT

ACT

Scoring

400–1600 composite scale

1–36 composite scale

Test Length

3 hours + 50-minute optional essay

2 hours and 55 minutes + 40-minute optional essay

Reading

52 questions in 65 minutes

Passage-based reading comprehension

Informational graphics included

40 questions in 35 minutes

Passage-based reading comprehension

English

44 questions in 35 minutes

Passage-based testing of grammar, usage, syntax, rhetoric, & punctuation

Informational graphics included

75 questions in 45 minutes

Passage-based testing of grammar, usage, syntax, rhetoric, & punctuation

Math

No Calculator Section: 20 questions in 25 minutes (include 5 grid-in questions)

Calculator Section: 38 questions in 55 minutes (including 8 grid-in questions)

Trigonometry, radians, volumes, complex numbers, congruence & similarity, simple rational expressions, higher order equations, circle-related topics

Emphasis on algebra, problem solving and data analysis, and certain advanced math topics

60 questions in 60 minutes

Can used approved calculator

All multiple choice

Arithmetic, algebra I & II, planar and coordinate geometry, trigonometry and precalculus including functions, conic sections, combinations & permutations, logarithms, and matrices

Science

No Science Section

Science questions throughout the Reading, Writing & Language, and Math Tests

40 Questions in 35 Minutes

Interpretation and application of scientific data presented in tables, pie charts, bar graphs, scatter plots, etc.

Essay

50 Minutes

Optional, but many competitive schools require the essay

Students must analyze an authentic text and evaluate how well the author constructs an argument

3 scores:

  • Reading
  • Analysis
  • Writing

40 Minutes

Optional, but many competitive schools require the essay

Writing and composition, analysis and development of an argument

4 scores:

  • Ideas & Analysis
  • Development & Support
  • Organization
  • Language Use & Conventions

Other

No penalty for incorrect answers

No penalty for incorrect answers

 

How do SAT and ACT scores compare?

Concordance tools and tables are provided on the official SAT website.

Section

Number of Questions

Minutes Per Section

Content

English Test

75 Questions

45 Minutes

Grammar, syntax, usage, rhetoric

Mathematics Test

60 Questions

60 Minutes

Arithmetic, algebra I and II, planar and coordinate geometry, trigonometry, precalculus including functions, conic sections, combinations and permutations, logarithms, matrices (calculators permitted)

Reading Test

40 Questions

35 Minutes

Reading comprehension based on four separate passages

Science Test

40 Questions

35 Minutes

Interpretation of scientific data presented in texts, tables, charts, and graphs

Writing Test (optional)

1 Prompt

40 Minutes

Essay composition

How is the ACT Scored?

  • Each subject area test is scaled from 1 to 36. Theses four scores are then averaged to provide a composite score from 1 to 36. 
  • The optional Writing Test receives four scores (in Ideas & Analysis, Development & Support, Organization, and Language Use & Conventions) from 2–12. These scores are averaged for an overall Writing Test score of 2–12.
  • The ACT does not deduct points for incorrect answers.

When is the ACT Taken?

The ACT is offered in September, October, December, February, April, and June, although the February administrations are not available in all locations. We recommend that most students take the ACT in the spring of their junior year and/or in the fall of their senior year.

Upcoming ACT Test Dates and Registration Deadlines

Test Date

Registration Deadline

Late Registration Deadline

February 11, 2017*

January 13, 2017

January 20, 2017

April 8, 2017

March 3, 2017

March 17, 2017

June 10, 2017

May 5, 2017

May 19, 2017

September 9, 2017    

August 4, 2017

August 18, 2017

October 28, 2017    

September 22, 2017

October 6, 2017

December 9, 2017

November 3, 2017

November 17, 2017

February 10, 2018*

January 12, 2018

January 19, 2018

April 14, 2018

March 9, 2018

March 23, 2018

June 9, 2018

May 4, 2018

May 18, 2018

*No test centers are scheduled in New York for the February test dates.

Tutors in Washington DC

Joshua Kaplan

Joshua Kaplan

Tutor of: SAT, ACT, Math Level 1, Math Level 2, Literature, U.S. History, World History, LSAT, GMAT, GRE, SSAT; and more

J.D. from Yale Law School.
M.F.A. from University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts.
B.A./B.S. in English and Film & Television from Boston University.
Mary Pickford Scholar; Phi Beta Kappa; Boston University Trustee Scholar; Florida Keys Emerging Playwright; Kodak Film Scholar.

Jordan Schwartz

Jordan Schwartz

Tutor of: SAT, ACT, Math Level 1, Literature, U.S. History, World History, LSAT, GRE, SSAT, ISEE; and more

B.A. in Politics from Brandeis University.
Harvey S. Bodker Outstanding Leadership Award.

See ACT tutors in all locations