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About the ACT

Section by section

The ACT is a popular standardized exam that is used by U.S. colleges in their admissions process. The ACT test serves a similar purpose as the SAT test by assessing how well prepared the student is for college.

The ACT has four mandatory multiple-choice sections which are always presented in the same order:

The total test time is 2 hours and 55 minutes (without the Writing section) or 3 hours and 35 minutes (with Writing section).

Click on links below to learn more

  1. How to improve your ACT score
  2. Contact Dr. Donnelly today
  3. Read our ACT students' reviews
  4. ACT test schedule
  5. The ACT - Section by Section
    1. ACT English Section
    2. ACT Math Section
    3. ACT Reading Section
    4. ACT Science Section
    5. ACT Writing Section (Optional)
AP Calculus, AP Physics, AP Chemistry

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Dr. Donnelly can show you how to greatly improve your ACT scores. Private ACT lessons with Dr. Donnelly are available either online via Zoom or in-person at either his Manhattan-based office in New York City or his San Diego-based office in California (depending upon the time of year).

Over the years, Dr. Donnelly has helped literally hundreds of students to improve their ACT and SAT scores significantly and achieve their goal of getting accepted into a top-tier program. We are confident that he can do the same for you.

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ACT Students' Reviews

Best Private Tutor

5 star review

"I want to start with saying that you are an amazing tutor! My composite went from a 29 the last two times I took the ACT to a 33! You helped me achieve a 11 point jump on my science section, and a full 4 points on my composite in the two months, you tutored me! Thank you so much, I will recommend you to all my friends, and hopefully in a few years be back in your office for help on the MCAT's. Thank you again"

Vaishivi J., Manhattan, New York.

Best Private Tutor

5 star review

"Stuart Donnelly gave my daughter amazing guidance in her Sat / ACT prep which resulted in a top score. We had worked with him for shsat prep as well and he is a reliable and professional tutor and gave her the prep she needed to excel. I highly recommend Stuart and his service , top quality!!"

Kenny S., Bronx, New York.

Best Private Tutor

5 star review

"Dr. Donnelly is patient and supportive and is clear when explaining questions that were challenging to me. He also urged me to work out questions on my own, which was extremely helpful. He created an atmosphere in which I looked forward to the challenge of each section on the practice tests, and I definitely felt more confident taking the test. If I need to prepare for another standardized test, I will definitely contact Dr. Donnelly."

Pauline E., Brooklyn, New York.

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2022 & 2023 ACT Schedule

ACT Test Dates 2022 & 2023

ACT test dates in 2022:
  1. February 12, 2022
  2. April 2, 2022
  3. June 11, 2022
  4. July 16, 2022
  5. September 10, 2022
  6. October 22, 2022
  7. December 10, 2022
ACT test dates in 2023:
  1. February 11, 2023
  2. April 1, 2023
  3. June 10, 2023
  4. July 15, 2023*

Overview of the ACT

Everything you need to know


The ACT Exam

There are four mandatory sections on the ACT: English, Math, Reading, and Science. If you decide to take the ACT with Writing, the Writing section will be last. Every section is scored out of 36 points, except for Writing, which is scored out of 12 points.

The section with the most questions (75 questions) is the English section. The longest section time-wise is Math, at 60 minutes. Reading and Science both give you 40 questions to answer in 35 minutes.

Click on links below to learn more about each section of the ACT:

English Section of the ACT

English Section of the ACT<

The ACT English section lasts 45 minutes and contains 70 questions. It contains five passages with accompanying four-choice multiple-choice questions. This section asks you to review passages and ensure that the grammar and punctuation are correct and that each passage is well-organized and rhetorically sound.

The ACT English section tests two broad skill areas. Firstly, it tests your knowledge of usage and mechanics—grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure. Secondly, it tests your ability to make sure that a passage flows, makes sense, and effectively communicates a point. You’ll receive a subscore for both usage and mechanics and rhetorical skills when you get your ACT scores back.

Math Section of the ACT

Math Section of the ACT

The ACT Math section lasts 60 minutes and contains 60 five-choice multiple choice questions. Some of these questions will be presented as word problems, and others as pretty straightforward math problems. Some will have figures, graphs, or charts.

You should also be aware that the questions in the ACT Math section are loosely ordered by difficulty as well as content and subject matter. There are six main content areas tested on the math section: Pre-Algebra, Elementary Algebra, Intermediate Algebra, Coordinate Geometry, Plane Geometry, and Trigonometry. The first half of the test (questions 1-30) will have more algebra and pre-algebra questions, and the second half of the test will have more geometry and trigonometry.

Reading Section of the ACT

Reading Section of the ACT

The ACT Reading section lasts 35 minutes and contains 40 questions. This section presents you with passages and then asks you multiple choice questions that test your reading comprehension skills. Can you correctly understand and interpret passages on a variety of subjects? Can you interpret the meaning both of small details and major theme in a passage? Can you analyze author’s purpose and tone? These are kinds of skills that the Reading section assesses.

The actual test will present you with four subsections: three will have longer passages, while one will have two paired passages. The subsections will come from four different subject areas and they always appear in the same order:

1. Prose Fiction/Literary Narrative: These are the kinds of fiction passages you’re probably encountering all the time in English class, including passages from literary memoirs.

2. Social Science: Nonfiction passages on soft sciences areas, like psychology, sociology, and education.

3. Humanities: This is a broad topic area that includes both personal nonfiction pieces like essays and memoirs and also nonfiction pieces on the arts, literature, and philosophy.

4. Natural Science: Nonfiction passages about hard sciences topics like biology, chemistry, physics, and medicine.

Any of the four topic areas could contain the paired passages, although it seems like literary fiction and humanities are the most frequent areas where you’ll see them.

Science Section of the ACT

Science Section of the ACT

The ACT Science section lasts 35 minutes and contains 40 questions. This section tests your scientific interpretation skills more than your pre-existing scientific factual knowledge and involves more reading—of passages, charts, and graphs—than anything else! Using the information in the passages, you’ll need to apply the scientific method, evaluate theories or hypotheses, and interpret data.

There are seven passages on the ACT Science section. You can expect to see three passages summarizing research and experiments (which may or may not include graphs and figures), three passages primarily made up of graphs and figures, and one paired passage set describing conflicting viewpoints on an issue. You can expect about 5-7 questions about each passage.

>Writing Section of the ACT

Essay Section of the ACT

The ACT Writing section lasts 40 minutes and tests your ability to write a clear, well-argued essay that analyzes an issue in relation to different viewpoints. You’ll then be evaluated along four domains and given a score from 1-6 by two graders, leading to a score out of 12.

You’ll first be presented with the topic. This will consist of two parts. First, you’ll get a paragraph introducing an issue of some global or universal importance. It will most likely be something that’s primarily philosophical in nature and it will be something that can be argued from multiple angles. After the initial introductory paragraph, you’ll be presented with three positions on the topic. The positions will be a little bit more nuanced that just “this thing is good” or “this thing is bad,” but they are only a couple of sentences each.

Then comes the actual prompt, which is always the same and describes the task you need to complete with the topic information. So what’s the actual task? You will need to write an essay that clearly states your perspective on the issue, analyzes the relationship between your perspective and at least one other perspective, and supports your own position with well-developed, logical support. You can choose to completely agree with one perspective, partially agree, or make your own different perspective.

AP Calculus, AP Physics, AP Chemistry

Call Dr. Donnelly Today!

Dr. Donnelly can show you how to greatly improve your ACT scores. Private lessons with Dr. Donnelly are available either online via Skype or in-person at either his Manhattan-based office in New York City or his San Diego-based office in California (depending upon the time of year).

Contact Dr. Donnelly today to schedule your appointment

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