ACT Exam Pattern 2023 - Marking Scheme, Duration, Section-wise Test Pattern

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Samarpita Goswami
Updated on Mar 29, 2023 5:17 PM IST

The ACT Exam is a Computer Based Test (CBT) comprising four main parts: English, Reading, Maths, and Science. The fifth part ACT Writing (Essay) is optional. Unlike other CBT tests, the online ACT test is non-adaptive i.e the level of difficulty of the next question is not defined on the basis of the correct or incorrect answer to the previous question. 

The ACT Exam Pattern is well structured. Each ACT section is timed and has a definite set of questions. The duration of the ACT Exam is 2 hours 55 minutes excluding Writing (ACT) which lasts for 40 minutes. The total number of questions asked in the ACT is 215 with an additional question in the ACT writing (Essay) section. 

ACT Exam Pattern 2023: Quick Overview

An aspirant must take note of all the salient features of the exam pattern mentioned below before applying for the test.

Mode of Exam

Paper-based (US)

Computer-based (Non-US)

Number of Questions

215 + 1 (Writing - optional)

Type of Questions


Writing Question - Subjective


2 hours 55 minutes + 40 minutes (Writing - optional)

Medium of Instruction


Number of Sections

4 + 1 (optional)

Negative Marking

Not Applicable

What is Tested on the ACT?

An undergraduate standardised test, ACT measures the readiness of a high school student for college. It helps universities around the world especially those in the US to get common data that they can utilise to compare applicants. To understand the eligibility and readiness of students, conducting body of ACT assesses four primary sections Maths, Reading, Science and English. Here are what is tested on the ACT exam:

  • The ACT English test contains passages that assess punctuation, grammar, sentence structure and persuasive skills. 

  • The reading test has four passages from humanities, social studies, prose fiction and natural sciences. 

  • The maths test will contain algebra, arithmetic, geometry, trigonometry and data analysis.

  • Finally, the science test assesses comprehension and data interpretation based on high school science knowledge. 

Section-wise ACT Exam Pattern 2023

The ACT is divided into four sections: English, Reading, Math, and Science. The writing portion is the fifth and final section, and it is completely optional. Candidates must pay an additional fee to take the writing section. They are also given an extra 40 minutes to complete the fifth component of the test. The ACT exam pattern is depicted here, section by part.


Number of questions

Time limit


75 Multiple-Choice Questions

45 Minutes


60 Multiple-Choice Questions

60 Minutes



40 Multiple-Choice Questions

35 Minutes


40 Multiple-Choice Questions

35 Minutes


               Writing (Optional) 

1 Essay

40 Minutes

Marking Scheme of ACT 2023

The ACT exam has a multiple-choice-based test format. Four options are given in English, Reading and Science tests but five choices are given in Mathematics. The feature that makes the ACT exam unique is that the odd-number questions have answer choices from A through D and E while even-numbered questions have answered choices from F to J or K. I is excluded in between. 

There is no negative marking scheme in the ACT 2023 exam which allows students to attempt all the questions Even though they are not confident to answer the questions, they can make wise guessing that will improve the possibility of scoring high. 

In ACT, each correct answer gives students a raw point without any penalty. A scaled score from 1 to 36 is computed for each test based on the raw score received in the test. Scores from all four sections are computed together to generate a composite score on a scale of 1 to 36.

The writing test score is marked on a scale of 2 to 12 and it does not affect the composite score. The essay section is awarded on the basis of four writing domain scores that include Ideas and Analysis, Organisation, Development and Support, Language Use and Conventions each of which is scored on a scale of 2 to 12. The essay score is combined with the English score and reading score to produce a separate score on a scale of 1 to 36.  

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FAQs on ACT Exam Pattern

How many questions are asked in the English section of ACT?

The English section of ACT comprises 75 questions.

How many questions are asked in the Maths section of ACT?

The Maths section of ACT comprises 60 questions.

What is the duration of the ACT test?

The duration of the ACT test is 2 hours 55 minutes for MCQ questions. The writing section lasts for a duration of 40 minutes.

What are the topics asked in the ACT test?

English, Reading, Maths and Science are the multiple-choice questions asked in the ACT test. The subjective and option section is the writing section.

Into how many sections ACT test divided?

The ACT test is divided into 4 sections including one optional section.

Is there negative marking in the ACT test?

There is no negative marking in the ACT test.

What is the language of instruction of the ACT test?

The language of instruction of the ACT test is English.

What type of questions are asked in the ACT test?

Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ’s) are asked in the ACT test including one subjective question.

How many questions are asked in the ACT test?

There are a total of 215 questions and 1 writing question (optional) in the ACT test.

What is the mode of the ACT test?

ACT is a Computer-Based and Paper-Based (for subjective question) test.

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