The American College Test (ACT) is a standardized exam that is designed to help a college or university determine if an individual has the basic English language, math, reading, science, and/or writing skills that he or she needs in order to complete a series of college level courses. The exam, which is designed and administered by ACT, Inc., is split into five main sections, and each area tests a different area of knowledge. These five main sections include an English section, a mathematics section, a reading section, a science section, and an optional writing section. The English section requires an individual to answer 75 multiple-choice questions in which he or she must read and correct errors in a passage. The mathematics section requires an individual to answer 60 multiple-choice questions that cover topics related to algebra, arithmetic, geometry (including both coordinate and plane geometry), probability, statistics, and trigonometry. The reading section requires an individual to answer 40 questions for which a passage must be read and analyzed. The science section consists of 40 questions that require test takers to read and analyze a chart, a graph, a diagram, or a passage related to a scientific topic. The writing section, which an individual is required to complete only if he or she elects to take the ACT with the writing component, requires an individual to write an essay.
In most cases, you will be required to take the ACT before you apply to an accounting school because most undergraduate programs (both in and outside the accounting field) require you to submit your scores from the ACT or the SAT Reasoning Test before you apply. It is important to note, however, that the ACT and/or the SAT Reasoning Test are not the only exams that you may be required to take, as some colleges and universities require other similar standardized examinations than the SAT Reasoning Test or the ACT. In other words, most universities will allow you to choose whether you take the ACT or the SAT Reasoning Test, but there are some universities that prefer applicants to take one test or the other. It is also important to note that the questions on the ACT are not as difficult as the questions on the SAT Reasoning Test, but the exam itself is still relatively difficult due to the number of questions that an individual is required to answer in the time allowed. In fact, the average person taking the ACT will choose the correct answer only around 50 to 60% of the time due to the time constraints.
Like the SAT Reasoning Test, the ACT is scored on a scale, and you will receive a score on a scale of 1 to 36 for the English, mathematics, reading, and science sections of the exam (the writing section of the exam is scored on a scale of 2-12 and is factored into the English section if you take it). The ACT score that an individual must achieve in order to get into a particular school varies considerably form school to school, but the average ACT score for an individual entering an accounting program is typically between 24 to 32 for the composite score, 23 to 34 for the English and reading sections (the writing section is not typically required, but there are some programs that may require you to take it), and 26 to 34 for the math section (the admissions board for an accounting program will usually ignore the science score).