What is the ACT?

The standardized exam formerly known as the American College Test looms large over the high school landscape. Once considered the Heartland alternative to the more established SAT, the ACT won the testing wars of the early 21st century and now boasts more test takers nationally than its older rival.  

ACT, Inc., the creator of this exam, considers the ACT “the gold standard in standardized assessments,” further asserting that the test motivates students to perform to their best ability. “Test scores reflect what students have learned throughout high school and provide colleges and universities with excellent information for recruiting, advising, placement, and retention.”

This description captures the essential function of the ACT, which is basically a standardized test used primarily by colleges and universities in the United States for admissions, evaluation, and scholarship purposes. The ACT also offers a career exploration component to help students identify career options. Last but not least, many states use the ACT as the culminating high school standardized test. But when you strip all its other uses and features away, the ACT is an American college admissions test.


ACT page on the ACT


What does the ACT cover?
How do the SAT and ACT differ?
Which is harder, SAT or ACT?
Does a student have to take the SAT or ACT?