ACT Exam Syllabus
The ACT is a standardised test; however, the test writers do not give a ‘fixed’ syllabus or reference books for students to help them prepare for the ACT. The content and the skills required are categorised into the four distinct tests: English, Math, Reading, and Science are given below. Let’s take a look at the syllabus for each of these:
- Punctuation, grammar, usage and syntax, and rhetorical skills are the key concepts that are tested
- The direct definitions of common grammar rules are not tested; these rules are tested via multiple choice questions
- Test takers are expected to select the best way to edit a passage by adding, revising, or deleting portions by taking into account a given purpose and judging the relevance of the portions in context.
- The other questions expect the test takers to choose the best order for certain sentences in the interest of style, tone, rhetorical effectiveness, and avoidance of ambiguity, verbosity, and redundancy. Some of these questions often refer to particular sections of the passages, or the passages as a whole.
- The following content areas from mathematical skills acquired till grade 11 are required:
- Elementary algebra
- Intermediate algebra
- Coordinate geometry
- Plane geometry
- Questions for mathematical reasoning skills are posed in the form of practical problems; hence word problems are common on the ACT.
- Although a calculator, which conforms to ACT’s Calculator Policy, is allowed, all questions on the Math test can be solved without a calculator as neither complex formulas nor extensive computation is required. Students do need to know basic formulae for the content areas
- This section measures the ability to read and comprehend English text – passages are extracted from or adapted from various sources
- Questions may ask what is directly stated or implied in the passage, main idea of a passage, analyse the author’s tone, etc.
- While passages belong to four genres — prose fiction, social sciences, humanities, and natural sciences, there are no prescribed books that a student can read to prepare for this test.
- Timed practice with quality material is what’s required – remember that correct answers get you the points, understanding passages isn’t enough.
- This section measures the ability to interpret, analyse, and evaluate scientific data. These skills are evaluated in the ACT Science Test by asking questions that test your understanding of the information provided, and your ability to draw conclusions, make predictions, etc.
- Essay topics are general and require test takers to present their point of view. They may support, oppose, take a qualified stand, or even present a totally different point of view. The score is not affected by the point of view in the essay. Writing skills and ability to articulate views on the given issue are two key skills required to get a top writing score.