How Long Is The ACT?

  • The ACT is a standardized test that many colleges across America require students to take for admission to undergrad school
  • The ACT exam is 2 hours 55 minutes long
  • The test paper consists of 215 questions, which are broken up into 4 mandatory sections and 1 optional section
  • Each of the sections on the ACT test must be completed within a specified time frame

The ACT test is 2 hours 55 minutes long. This is without counting the break. If you choose to answer the optional ACT Essay question, you have an additional 40 minutes to the test time, along with a 5-minute break.

“How long the is ACT test” is a common question students ask before they start their test prep. It’s helpful to know how long you have to take the test because there are 215 questions to answer. Naturally, students want to know how much time they have to answer these questions. Knowing how long the ACT is also gives students a better idea of how long they have to answer each question.

Here’s a breakdown of the test format, sections, and timing for each section. Make sure to adhere to these timings when answering practice ACT test papers so you can pace yourself properly on the test day.

How Long Is The ACT Test?

The total test time for the ACT is 2 hours 55 minutes with a 15-minute break scheduled immediately after the math section.

With the ACT, the essay is optional. If you’ve opted to take the essay, you’ll get a 5-minute break after 2 hours 55 minutes. Then you have 40 minutes to complete the essay.

Each section of the ACT exam has its own time limit. You must answer all questions in each section within the time limit specified for that section. That means you cannot move from one section to another at your own pace.

How Is The ACT Test Broken Down?

The ACT includes a total of 215 multiple-choice questions. These questions are grouped under 4 sections –

  1. English
  2. Math
  3. Reading
  4. Science

Each of the sections varies in terms of the number of questions included and the time limit for answering them.

The 5th section related to Writing and the essay is optional.

Here’s a bird’s eye view of the format of the ACT test.

sat prep

ACT Exam Breakdown


The English section consists of 75 multiple-choice questions. You get 45 minutes to answer the questions in this section, which averages out to about 36 seconds per question. This section tests students on grammar, sentence structure, punctuation, and the ability to revise and edit short essays or texts in various genres.


The Math section is the longest with 60 multiple-choice questions. You get 60 minutes to complete this section, which works out to 1 minute per question. This section tests students on algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and other mathematical skills that students should have typically acquired before starting grade 12. You are allowed to use a calculated to solve these Math problems.


In the Reading section you get 35 minutes to answer 40 multiple-choice questions. This gives you approximately 52 seconds to answer each question. The Reading section tests students’ reading comprehension on a wide range of subjects and their ability to reason logically using evidence from the text.


The Science section also consists of 40 multiple-choice questions. You get 35 minutes to complete this section, which works out to about 52 seconds per question. This section tests students on skills required in chemistry, biology, physics, and Earth/space sciences, which includes their ability to interpret, analyze and evaluate graphs, tables, research, summaries, and more.


Students who opt to answer the Writing section get 40 minutes to complete one persuasive essay on a given topic. This section assesses student’s writing skills taught in high school English classes.

Speed and accuracy are key to answering all 215 questions in the ACT test paper within the time limit.

What You Should Know About The ACT Extended Time Accommodation

The ACT policy was updated in 2018 to provide appropriate accommodations to ACT test takers who meet certain requirements.  In most cases, these accommodations involve additional test time.

You cannot simply request for an extended time accommodation because you think you need it. And you definitely cannot request accommodations on the day of the test. There is a very strict procedure in place for requesting extended time or any other accommodations.

First, this request has to be similar to the accommodations you’re currently receiving in school. You will have to work with your school to obtain the necessary documentation to support your request.

Second, you must submit your request along with all supporting documentation by the late registration deadline for your preferred test date. If any information is inaccurate or you fail to submit the required documents, the request may not be approved in time for your preferred date.

Most important of all, simply requesting an extended time accommodation is not enough. You must receive an approval notification from ACT before the test date to take advantage of this accommodation on test day. It typically takes about 10 days. A copy of the decision notification is sent to your school official so make sure to check with them.

How The ACT Is Scored And How To Use This To Your Advantage

You know how long the ACT test is and how many questions you need to answer within that time frame. Don’t let the large number of questions to be answered within a relatively short time frame make you nervous.

One good thing about the ACT scoring technique is that scores are based only on the number of questions you answer correctly. There are no penalties for guessing or for wrong answers. Here’s how you can use this information to your advantage.

Here are some quick test day tips:

  • Move through all the questions quickly and answer those that you know the answers to.
  • Don’t waste time on the questions that you’re unsure about.
  • After you’ve answered all the easy questions, go back and answer the not-so-easy ones.
  • If you’re stuck on a very difficult question, don’t waste too much time trying to answer it.
  • Go back once you’ve answered all the questions you know and make your best guess on the questions you don’t know for sure.

Time is precious and you know you won’t get penalized for wrong answers. The best tactic is to guess the answer and move on. If your guess is correct, you’ll score an extra point. If your guess is wrong, you won’t score any marks but you won’t lose any either. The most important this is nsot to leave any questions unanswered. You cannot score on questions that you don’t answer.

The Key To Acing The ACT

The key to acing the ACT lies in taking ACT practice tests while keeping the test time in mind. Just like school tests, it’s helpful to put some time into studying for the ACT, and hint, studying with friends can help too! At the test, you won’t get any extra time, which means you have to be able to answer all the questions within this allotted time.

The best way to master this tactic is to answer one-timed practice test and figure out where your strengths and weaknesses lie. Work on your weak areas before taking the next practice test. By the test day, you should be as prepared as you could ever be to ace the ACT.

How to Sign Up for the ACT

  1. Pick a date that works for your schedule.
  2. Head to and register for an account.
  3. Submit your student information.
  4. You are good to go. Don’t forget to add that test date with a reminder to your calendar!

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