How long is the ACT test? Let’s cut to the chase.
The four sections of the ACT test officially take 2 hours and 55 minutes to complete. There are 215 questions total.
But the ten-minute break between Math and Reading and some time at the beginning to fill out administrative information bring the total time up to about three and a half hours of time in the testing room.
The English section is 45 minutes, the Math section is 60 minutes, and the Reading and Science sections are each 35 minutes.
If students take the Writing section at the end, that takes an additional 40 minutes, with a five-minute break given after the Science section.
How Long is Each Section?
When you break it down, how long is each section, in both time and questions?
The English section
Students have 45 minutes to complete 75 questions. This averages out to approximately 36 seconds per question.
The Math section
The Math section is the longest, with 60 minutes to complete 60 questions. But there is good news! Once you complete Math, you’re well over halfway through and have definitely earned your ten-minute break!
The Reading & Science sections
Students have 35 minutes to complete 40 questions on both the Reading and Science sections, which means you have 52 seconds per question or a little less than nine minutes for each of the four Reading passages and a little less than six minutes for each of the six Science passages. These sections can be challenging for many students who struggle with the quick pace that is required.
Practice is important so that you can get the feel for the types of passages and questions you’ll encounter.
What Time Does the ACT Start?
For national ACT test dates, reporting time is usually 8:00 am. Don’t be late, otherwise you might not be admitted to the test! If you are testing somewhere unfamiliar, arrive even earlier so you can find a parking space, the testing room, (and the bathroom) and get settled.
Students taking the ACT (without writing) normally finish around 12:35 pm, and students who also take the writing section normally finish around 1:35 pm.
Extended Time on the ACT
Some students who have requested accommodations from the ACT receive extended time on the test. With an update in 2018, approved students have 50% extended time for each section of the ACT.
Prior to this change, students simply had five hours to complete the test, self-paced. But now there is a hard stop after each section. This means students have:
- 70 minutes to complete English
- 90 minutes to complete Mathematics
- 55 minutes to complete Reading
- 55 minutes to complete Science
To learn more or to request accommodations, visit the ACT website.
ACT Endurance Training Strategies
2 hours and 55 minutes is a long time to stay alert and mentally active! Just like running a marathon or long-distance race, you can’t just show up and expect to finish well without practice! Here are a few ways to prepare your brain for the length of the ACT.
Read a book
Not only will focused time reading prepare your brain for the Reading section of the ACT, but it will also help you expand your concentration and attention span. So you’ll be ready to read and comprehend the other sections of the test as well. When you feel your brain drifting, try to keep reading a bit longer. Challenge yourself and build your focus.
Do brain-training (or actual) puzzles
There are awesome and fun resources out there, like Lumosity, to train your brain to remember details and focus. Or you could break out an actual puzzle. Your grandma would probably love to spend an evening doing a puzzle with you, especially if she knows it could jump your ACT score!
Take practice ACT tests
Beyond taking the ACT multiple times during your junior and senior years, you should also take some practice ACT tests. Do what you can to create test-like surroundings and make sure you time yourself! You aren’t just preparing for the questions—you’re preparing yourself to answer them under the pressure of a time limit.
The timing of the ACT can be a challenge in and of itself! But luckily there are strategies to help you manage your time and make the most of it on the ACT! Want more timing strategies to help you prepare? Check out our online ACT courses and get started today.