Taking the ACT

We know that all students must take the ACT to graduate from high school, but did you know that doing well on the test can open doors to many opportunities both during high school as well as after graduation?

This page includes information about preparing for and taking the ACT test as well as the impact of the results. 

The Tennessee Department of Education provides two opportunities for students to take the ACT at no cost. All juniors test in the spring semester, and a Senior Retake opportunity occurs in the fall. Check with your school for specific test dates.

Review the MNPS PreK-12 ACT Strategic Plan to learn more about the district's activities to support student ACT Success.

When is the ACT Test?

Check with your school for the specific date the ACT will be given at your school.

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Watch the ACT Now! Webinar Series for Students

student at computerSchool District ACT experts deliver a one-hour ACT prep lesson on one of seven different aspects of the test. The sessions help prepare high school juniors for the ACT test at no-cost to students or families. 

There's also a webinar on understanding the ACT score, identifying ways to strengthen scores and learning how colleges and universities use the score.

The ACT Now! webinars can be watched on this page or the MNPS YouTube channel.

Webinar Overviews
Using the Mastery Prep platform.
Understanding Your ACT Score.
ACT Tips, Science portion of the test.
ACT Test Overview.
ACT Tips for the Reading portion of the test.
ACT Tips for English portion of the test.
ACT Tips for Math portion of the test.
For Parents: Helping students prepare for the ACT test.
ACT Inspiration: Written and performed by James Lawson High School teacher Skye Huff, this is a parody of Miley Cyrus' original, Grammy Award winning song "Flowers" (2023). 

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Learn More

  • General Information
    General Information

    The ACT mission is to help people achieve education and workplace success.

    The ACT test consists of four subject-area tests and one optional writing assessment:

    • English: 75 questions, 45 minutes
    • Math: 60 questions, 60 minutes
    • Reading: 40 questions, 35 minutes
    • Science: 40 questions, 35 minutes
    • Writing (optional): 1 essay, 40 minutes

    National test dates can be found on the Register for the ACT Test webpage.

  • Scoring

    Each of the four subject area tests receive a maximum score of 36. A composite score is the average of the four subject area test scores. The highest possible composite score is also a 36.
    ACT established “College Readiness Benchmarks” which indicate a student’s likelihood of success in college freshman-level courses.

    Those readiness benchmarks are:

    • English: 18
    • Math: 22
    • Reading: 22
    • Science: 23

    An average of these four scores results in a composite score of 21, the qualifying score to receive the Tennessee HOPE Scholarship.

    For assistance with understanding the information on a student score report, visit ACT's Interactive Student Score Report webpage.

  • Impact

    The ACT can be used for:

    • Accessing dual enrollment options at some institutions
    • Enhancing college applications and likelihood of admission to colleges/universities
    • Receiving state and university-based scholarships
  • Preparing for the ACT
    Preparing for the ACT

    The best preparation for the ACT includes developing a strong academic foundation in core subject courses: English, math, science, and social studies.

    Additionally, MNPS provides options for focused test preparation utilizing a district-funded ACT prep platform for juniors and seniors, as well as access to no-cost opportunities from the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE), the Tennessee Electronic Library Services (TELS), several community-based organizations, and additional support from ACT.

  • IEP, 504, and EL Accommodations
    IEP, 504, and EL Accommodations

    For students with IEPs, 504 Plans, or English learners, ACT offers a variety of accommodations that align to the support the student receives in school.

    Students can submit a request for accommodations on national ACT test dates (held on Saturdays) through their MyACT account.

    Accommodations for state test dates (held at school, during the school day), students and families should work with school personnel to  submit the appropriate forms to ACT for approval.

    Please note, evidence of a history of accommodation use in classroom instruction and assessments must exist. Accommodations cannot be requested only for use on the ACT.

    For more information on available supports, please refer to ACT’s Requesting Accommodations and English Learner (EL) Support webpage.

  • Grade-specific Information
    Grade-specific Information

    The menu items below outline resources available at different grade levels to help families determine if their child is on track to earn an ACT composite of 21 or higher. It also lists available support for improving skills to achieve college/career readiness goals.

    The high school options include links to a variety of free ACT preparation options and information about Mastery Prep, the district-purchased online ACT preparation platform.

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An Early Start for ACT Success

Skills tested on the ACT appear in curriculum as early as kindergarten. The grade-level specific information listed below will help students work on the skills needed for success on the ACT test throughout their entire educational experience.