How Long is the ACT? Test Timing & Format Explained

Dec 17, 2021 | Turito Team USA

how-long-is-the-act

People don’t know how to act when answering the question – how long is the ACT? Apart from knowing what ACT stands for and what it means, it is crucial to know the answers to a few questions. When the ACT starts, how long the ACT takes, how long each section of the ACT is, and many more. Therefore, one must be prepared thoroughly before taking the ACT exam.

According to experts, time is the most important factor while preparing for the ACT. So, utilize it efficiently. One needs to plan their weekends and weekdays. Make arrangements for the preparation. Choose alternative dates for the exam if they haven’t. Plan the strategy beforehand about attempting the ACT exam.

How long is the ACT test?

Are you finding the answers to the questions – how long is the ACT exam? Well, then this is the right place for you! There are four sections in the ACT test along with an optional fifth one. Completing four sections altogether, consisting of 215 questions, takes around 3 hours. To be strict, it’s 2 hours and 55 minutes (175 minutes) without the 10-minute break and 3 hours 5 minutes with an interval.

However, filling in administrative information during the exam and the ten-minute break between Mathematics and Reading consumes some time. That brings the total time to three and a half hours. Therefore, each subject must be given minimal time, around 30 to 60 minutes, to complete the ACT within the allotted duration. So then, how long is the ACT with the optional subject and breaks? The answer is 3 hours and 55 minutes.

How long is each section of the ACT?

Do you know why is it necessary to be familiar with the time allotment of each section? Why is it so significant to perceive the ins and outs of the ACT test? First, to accomplish a milestone in the ACT exam score!

The English section consists of 75 questions, allotted a total duration of 45 minutes for its completion. The Math section comprises 60 questions, and the time given to complete this section is 60 minutes. After toiling for 105 minutes, a short break is given of 10 minutes.

After the break, the reading and science sections are given 40 questions and 35 minutes each. Again, a short interval of 5 minutes is allotted for writing students only. Aspirants, who did not sign up for the optional section, can leave the exam center during this short break after handing their exam copies to the invigilator.

Next, how long is the ACT with writing? Those who signed up for the optional writing exam must know that it consists of one essay of 40 minutes. Here is the table below showing the summary of the timings and questions for each section:

ACT Exam Section  Duration (minutes) Total Questions 
English  45 75
Math  60 60
Break  10
Reading  35 40
Science  35 40
Break (for writing students only) 5
Optional Section  40 1

What are the start and end timings of the ACT exam?

If you are a night owl, you might be in trouble with the timings of the ACT exam. Why? Because the ACT exam is conducted early in the morning and is wrapped up by the afternoon. This means contenders need to reach the examination center early to take this exam on time.

As per Indian Standard Timings, the English section starts at 8:30 a.m. and is conducted till 9:15 a.m. The Math section starts right after the preceding section and ends at 10:15 a.m. Then, after a short break of 10 minutes, the reading section ends at 11:00 a.m. The Science section is conducted next for another 35 minutes from 11:00 a.m. till 11:35 a.m.

Those who did not register for the additional section can exit the exam hall from here. While other aspirants can continue taking their exam for another 45 minutes. At last, the essay takes place from 11:40 a.m. to 12:20 p.m. The examinees can leave the exam hall and enjoy the day. Here is a quick summary of the start and end timings of the ACT test:

ACT Section  Start Time  End Time 
English  8:30 a.m.  9:15 a.m. 
Math 9:15 a.m.  10:15 a.m. 
Break  10:15 a.m.  10:25 a.m.
Reading  10:25 a.m. 11:00 a.m. 
Science 11:00 a.m.  11:35 a.m. 
Break (for writing students only)  11:35 a.m.  11:40 a.m. 
Optional Section  11:40 a.m.  12:20 p.m. 

In any case, can the ACT schedule vary?

ACT is a globally administered entrance exam, which strictly obeys the time. So, one must be disappointed to know the answer to the above question – No. However, if you belong to the ‘special testing’ and ‘accommodations for extended time’ categories, you will get an extended 50% time for each section. This is possible only after approval from the ACT authorities.

When do you need to arrive on the ACT test date?

Candidates must have a sound sleep on the night of the ACT test date to wake up early and reach the exam center on time. Wondering why to do that? Because you need to get to the exam center maximum by 7:45 a.m. The administrators are strict with the timings and will not allow you to enter after 8 a.m. So, instead of being a latecomer, arrive as early as possible at the exam center. Wait for the proctor to give you the question pamphlet and answer sheet. Then, you can start your exam at 8:30 a.m.

When do you need to leave on the ACT test date?

As soon as the exam gets over, you can leave the exam center. However, you cannot leave the exam in the middle of the allotted time. So the candidates who have not opted for the extra exam can leave the exam center at 11:35 a.m. While the students who have opted for the additional writing exam are allowed to leave the exam center at 12:20 p.m. Once everything is finalized, they will instruct you to leave the exam hall. So collect your belongings and relax for the rest of the day!

Tips to excel on your ACT test date

To tackle the unnecessary burden of ACT, here are a few quick tips that can help you excel on your crucial day:

  • Strategize your exam properly, seeking every possibility of failure. Do not fail on the main exam day.
  • Allot specific timings to each section and strictly follow the time. By doing it, you will finish all the sections in the allotted time.
  • Prepare beforehand regarding how to reach the exam center. Do not wait until the last minute to start your journey.
  • Do not rush or panic in any situation. Stay relaxed and handle everything with a calm mind.
  • Do not forget to take your belongings, such as your registration ticket, ID proof, or other documentation.
  • Try to run your morning smoothly until the exam is finished.
  • Consume light meals before the exam day to avoid unessential heaviness in the body and mind.

Strategies to pace yourself

The commonest doubt amongst the ACT aspirants is how to pace up. Solutions for pacing up in preparation and writing the test are to be found. Still, wondering how to speed up your skills? Then, here are a few strategies:

  • Find the right pace for yourself depending on your ACT goals and what works best for you.
  • Examine what is working for you and what is not. Do not overspend your time on things that are not working.
  • Practice the latest questions rather than older ones. The latest questions are per the newest exam patterns and difficulty levels.
  • Develop your stamina and focus on improvements.
  • Break down the time for each section while taking mock tests. Do not give more time than allotted to a particular question.
  • Focus on accuracy in the Math section rather than attempting all of them. Solve puzzles and mathematical problems regularly.
  • Adapt a reading habit to understand the Reading section swiftly. Drift your brain, challenge yourself, and comprehend to build your focus.
  • Understand the key concepts in English to answer most of the questions in that section.
  • For the science portion, reading and memory retention plays a vital role. The longer the concept and answers are retained, the better the chances to qualify for the Science section.

What’s next after taking the ACT exam?

Do you get tense as soon as you come out of the ACT exam center? To achieve an outstanding score on the ACT exam, time management plays a vital role. More importantly, handling the stress and remaining calm during the exam will certainly help. ACT is like a 2 hour 55 minutes marathon. Make a proper strategy before the exam on how to handle each section of the exam within the allotted time. Practice as many times as you can. That is the key to unlocking the door full of scores on the ACT test.


Book a free demo

Grade*

+91

By proceeding to create an account you are agreeing to our Terms of conditions and Privacy Policy