What is the ACT and why is it important?

Created by ACT, Inc., the ACT is an entrance exam used by most colleges and universities to make admissions decisions. The test theoretically provides colleges with one common criterion that can be used to compare all applicants. The weight placed on ACT scores varies from school to school. Other important factors that schools consider in their admissions decisions are high school GPA, academic transcripts, letters of recommendation, interviews, and personal essays. For more specific information on the importance of ACT scores at the schools you are interested in, contact their admissions offices directly. The ACT is offered nationally every year in September, October, December, February, April, and June.

What specifically does the ACT test?

The ACT has four sections, English, Reading, Math, and Science, as well as an optional 30-minute writing test. Some schools may require the writing test, so students should check with prospective colleges before taking the test.

How is the ACT scored?

A score (1 to 36) is given for each test (English, Math, Reading, and Science); these are also averaged for a composite ACT score. When people talk about ACT scores, they are typically referring to the composite ACT score. The composite score falls between 1 and 36. The national average is about 21. Subscores in English, Math, and Reading that range between 1 and 18 are also given. These scores provide you with more detail about your performance, but they are not actually used by colleges or universities. The ACT includes an optional essay, known as the writing test. If you take the writing test, you will receive a writing test subscore and a combined English/writing score. Visit for detailed information about how your ACT writing test will be scored.

How do I know if my score is good enough to get me into my dream school?

Check out your prospective colleges’ Admissions pages for their admission requirements.

When should I take the ACT?

Students often take the ACT in the spring of their junior year and, if necessary, again in the fall of their senior year. However, more and more students are choosing to take their first ACT earlier, such as during the fall of their junior year. This gives them more flexibility to retake the ACT test one or more times, or to take the SAT or SAT subject tests.

How do I register?

Registration deadlines fall approximately 5 weeks before each ACT test date. It is recommended that students register online at
How can I prepare?

Practice tests are available in the Counseling Office. Please see your Borgia Counselor for additional resources.

ACT Dates

Test Date                                Registration Deadline