Links to all the Official ACT Practice Tests + Other Resources
Whether you’re deciding between the SAT and ACT or you’re ready to start preparing, the most important first step is to take a full-length diagnostic exam. You won’t know which exam plays to your strengths until you sit for both. Taking full-length practice tests is also important for building stamina that will help you avoid silly mistakes on the day of your exam.
You can find more preparatory material in The CollegeVine Guides to the ACT. For now though, we’ll dive right into the free exams that the ACT has published so far.
Official ACT Practice Tests, Full-Length
Every year, the ACT publishes a full-length practice test designed to help students prepare for test day. Here are the five unique official practice tests currently in circulation.
- Official ACT Practice Test, 2018-19
- Official ACT Practice Test, 2015-16
- Official ACT Practice Test, 2014-15
- Official ACT Practice Test, 2011-12
- Official ACT Practice Test, 2008-9
- Official ACT Practice Test, 2005-6
In Fall 2015, the Writing prompt style changed significantly, so students should only practice on writing prompts published after late 2015. However, the English, Math, Science, and Reading sections have remained more or less the same since the earliest of these exams was published.
Not ready for a full-length exam just yet? Here are some official practice problems written by the ACT:
ACT Exam Format
The exam takes 4 hours, 15 minutes with the optional Writing section and 3 hours, 35 minutes without Writing. The sections always appear in the following order.
Time: 45 minutes
Time: 60 minutes
Time: 35 Minutes
Time: 35 minutes
Optional Writing Section
Time: 40 Minutes
The mandatory sections are scored on a 36-point scale, and the rounded average of your four scores gives you an ACT cumulative score.
How to Improve Your ACT Score
For content and strategy suggestions, check out CollegeVine’s section guides:
- A Guide to the English Section of the ACT
- A Guide to the Math Section of the ACT
- A Guide to the Reading Section of the ACT
- A Guide to the Science Reasoning Section of the ACT
- A Guide to the Optional ACT Writing Section
Additionally, here are some tips we like to share whenever students have a major standardized exam to take.
Take frequent full-length sections or, if possible, exams.
A lot of students think that once they get a certain question right in practice, it means they will mark something similar correct on test day. However, we all lose focus and get tired after hours of strenuous activity. It is not enough simply to take practice problems. Make sure your study plan involves long stretches of test-taking to build your stamina.
Review your mistakes.
You want to spot trends in your mistakes. That will help you identify your weaknesses so you can target them. Study the underlying concepts for the questions you get wrong. For example, if most of your incorrect math problems involve two-variable equations, practice solving two-variable equations.
When in doubt, delay your exam.
We see a lot of students go to sit for a test that they have already paid for, even when they know they really need a few more weeks or months studying. Our advice is to delay that test date, even if you have already paid. If you study before your next exam and perform well, you will make up that $200 fee quickly in financial aid. But a bad score will materially decrease your admissions chances, even if you score better in the future.
Prepare between test dates.
Perhaps you have already taken the ACT once but did not quite score as you would have liked. Don’t worry–you can always take it again! However, if you are going to sit again for the exam, be sure to prepare up front. It is not worth the money to sit again without doing more prep work, since your score will likely stay the same and may even go down.
Test as an upperclassman.
The concepts on the ACT are serious stuff, so don’t be surprised if it takes a few years to learn the material. Juniors and Seniors are at an advantage when it comes to taking the ACT, since they have already covered these concepts in school. The trick is to take the ACT late enough that you have covered all concepts but early enough that you have time to re-test in the event that you receive an undesirable score.
CollegeVine has an excellent Test Prep program with the targeted approach to help you meet your standardized score targets. Consider partnering with one of our near peers to make the most out of your prep time.
If you’re looking for more on the ACT, check out these related CollegeVine posts!
Want more SAT tips sent to you?
Sign up below and we'll send you expert SAT tips and guides.