Important new changes coming to the ACT for 2016

ACT_American_College_Testing_LogoYou may know by now the SAT has changed formats, but did you know that ACT has changed too?  The changes are not as monumental as what College Board has done, but they could impact the way you prepare to take the test.  We want you to have every advantage possible in preparing, so here is an outline of what you can expect on the new ACT.


  • English – exactly the same (45 minutes, 75 questions). Mostly grammar, paragraph structure and punctuation.
  • Math – exactly the same (60 minutes, 60 questions). A broad survey of high-school math, with questions ordered from easy to hard.
  • Reading – almost exactly the same (35 minutes, 40 questions), but the new ACT now includes Dual Passages (google “Preparing for the ACT Practice Booklet”, open the PDF, and scroll to pages 36-38 for an example of what the dual passage looks like).
  • Science – almost exactly the same (35 minutes, 40 questions, mostly data interpretation and graphs/charts), but the exact order and types of questions/passages have been modified slightly.
  • Writing (Essay) section – much different! Instead of 30 minutes to write, you are now given 40 minutes, and instead of being given only a prompt and an assignment, you will now be provided with a prompt, an assignment, and three different perspectives on the essay.  You are then asked to evaluate all three perspectives on the issue, to provide your own perspective, and to explain the relationship between your own opinion and the three opinions provided, using examples, analysis and logic. (In the words of the ACT, students are asked “to develop an argument that puts their own perspective in dialogue with others.”)

The new essay will be scored out of 36 points instead of 12.  It will also be given a grade of 2-12 in the following areas:  Ideas and Analysis, Development and Support, Organization, & Language Use and Conventions.

You can find more information about these changes by searching online, but you should be aware that even some of the newer books, even from ACT directly, have out-of-date and inaccurate essay information.  The most complete guide I’ve found is the Mighty Oak Guide to Mastering the 2016 ACT Essay: For the new (2016-) 36-point ACT essay.  It contains up-to-date information on structure and scoring, plus pointers and 12 (actually 13) practice essay prompts. If you are just looking for sample prompts, you can find 6 of them on the author’s website:


Investing in test prep is one of the best investments you can make these days because having a good test score and a strong GPA can open the door to many wonderful opportunities. The rewards are worth the effort, so go for it!  We’re pulling for you.


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