How Long is the ACT Test?

ACT Test Times, Length, & Schedule Explained

how-long-is-the-act-test-timesACT Test Times Explained

The ACT test is used in evaluating students after high school to determine their readiness to join university/college. It typically takes 175 minutes to complete.

The exam evaluates various aspects in English, Maths, Science, and Reading, and for some students, they may want to take the reading section. Acing the test requires the students to answer the questions quickly within the provided time.

Therefore, it is vital to know the number of questions for each section relative to test duration to plan your time appropriately. It is necessary to learn the ins and outs of the ACT test times to optimize your time and respond to as many questions as possible it increase your score.


How Long Does the ACT Test Take?

There are four sections of the exam that the student has to complete, with an optional fifth section. If you are taking the four sections only, the full ACT test takes 2 hours and 55 minutes to complete.

But, with the optional writing test, you will take 3 hours and 35 minutes. Each subject area is given as a single chunk and will take between 30 and 60 minutes.

Here is a breakdown of the duration you will take to complete the ACT test times, including breaks:

ACT Test SectionTotal QuestionsTime Length
(Exam Duration)
Start TimeEnd Time
English7545 Minutes8:30 AM9:15 AM
Math6060 Minutes9:15 AM10:15 AM
Break10 Minutes10:15 AM10:25 AM
Reading4035 Minutes10:25 AM11:00 AM
Science4035 Minutes11:00 AM11:35 AM
Break (Writing Students Only)5 Minutes11:35 AM11:40 AM
Writing (optional)1 Essay40 Minutes11:40 AM12:20 PM

The sections are orders as indicated, and once time for a section is up, you can’t return to the section. Equally, there is no flipping ahead of other sections except for test-takers with approved accommodations such as special testing and extended time.

You only have one break of ten minutes after the math section. But, for those taking the writing section, you will receive a five-minute break.

Generally, the duration and time are as tabulated in the table. However, some variations depend on the break times or disruptions, like taking longer to get to the testing room or in case of a dismissal.


How Many Questions are on the ACT?

The full ACT test has 215 questions in total with an additional optional essay section. Here is a list of the total questions on each ACT test section:

  • English ACT Section: 75 questions
  • Math ACT Section: 60 questions
  • Reading ACT Section: 40 questions
  • Science ACT Section: 40 questions

Here is a ACT question chart that shows how many questions are in each section of the ACT test.

ACT Test SectionTotal Questions
English75
Math60
Reading40
Science40
Writing (optional)1 Essay

What Time Does the ACT Test Start?

The ACT test starts at 8:30 AM. The time pressure for the ACT is intense, and you should be prepared to be at the test center early. It is advisable to be at the center by the latest 8:00 am because the test administrators are very strict and can deny entry for any latecomers.

Always aim to be at the center between 7:30 and 7:45 am because admission is around 7:45 am. Often, there is a line of test-takers waiting, so the early, the better. Remember to check in with your ID and admission ticket and find a seat.

With everybody seated, the proctor will give students booklets and pass instructions on filling in personal details. This will take around at least 30 minutes, and thus even though you may arrive by 7:45 am, the test is likely to commence between 8:30 am and 9:00 am. The ACT exam will end between 12:15 pm and 1:15 pm, depending on whether the student is taking the wring section or not.


Strategies on How to Pace Yourself During the ACT Test Times

The ACT exam is known for its intense time pressure; thus, you need to develop stamina and focus on doing well. Your pacing strategy will depend on what works for you and your ACT score targets.

There isn’t much time to read and answer the questions, thus pacing on the ACT is vital. It is paramount to go into the test aware of the time you will spend per question on each section. Here is a breakdown of the sections and the time you need to attempt each question.

Test SectionACT Time per Question
English36 seconds
Math60 seconds
Reading52 seconds
Science52 seconds

Most importantly, for the Science and Reading section, you will need to read passages. Thus, the time per question might be much shorter. Also, the Math section has been ordered by difficulty. This implies that towards the end of the section, questions will be more difficult.

For the English section, the goal is finishing and answering most questions. Therefore, you should try and start with the easy ones first.

For Math, you can spend time attempting fewer questions but focus on accuracy.

The Reading test requires extensive practicing to find the pace that works since some can be slow readers taking 35 minutes to do fewer passages means getting all the passage questions right.

The science test requires aggressiveness and spending time on the easiest passages.


ACT Time Management Tips & Question Answering Strategies

Answer the easiest passages first – You should spend time on the questions that require less time as this maximizes your chances of scoring more. Always begin with questions with visuals alone and skip those you can’t answer with visuals.

Start every section strongly – To ensure you start strongly, skim through the questions first and stop to do those you are sure of to maximize time-saving. If there is a word that you are not familiar with, you can skip and do it later as it will save you a lot of time.

Don’t be bogged in the middle of the test – Sometimes students can waste time trying to answer difficult questions. Getting caught trying to attempt the questions can ruin chances of finishing the test. One way of dealing with hard questions is to start by canceling wrong answers and then deciding on the rest of the options.

Most importantly, you can guess some of the answers. According to statistics, the most common answer is option B. Thus, when in doubt, always go for B.

Always spare around 30 seconds to guess answers for the hard questions. It would help if you did not fail to answer any question since there is no penalty for a wrong answer.

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