What’s Covered on the ACT | Tulsa Tutoring

Many students are overwhelmed with what to study on the ACT. Below is a breakdown of what is covered and tested, as stated on the official ACT website:



75-questions 45-minutes ~ 9 minutes per passage

Usage/Mechanics (45-60% of the test)

  • Punctuation (10-15%). Questions in this category test your knowledge of the conventions of internal and end-of-sentence punctuation, with emphasis on the relationship of punctuation to meaning (for example, avoiding ambiguity, indicating appositives).
  • Grammar and Usage (15-20%). Questions in this category test your understanding of agreement between subject and verb, between pronoun and antecedent, and between modifiers and the word modified; verb formation; pronoun case; formation of comparative and superlative adjectives and adverbs; and idiomatic usage.
  • Sentence Structure (20-25%). Questions in this category test your understanding of relationships between and among clauses, placement of modifiers, and shifts in construction.

Rhetorical Skills (40-55% of the test)

  • Strategy (15-20%). Questions in this category test how well you develop a given topic by choosing expressions appropriate to an essay’s audience and purpose; judging the effect of adding, revising, or deleting supporting material; and judging the relevance of statements in context.
  • Organization (10-15%). Questions in this category test how well you organize ideas and choose effective opening, transitional, and closing sentences.
  • Style (15-20%). Questions in this category test how well you select precise and appropriate words and images, maintain the level of style and tone in an essay, manage sentence elements for rhetorical effectiveness, and avoid ambiguous pronoun references, wordiness, and redundancy.



60-questions 60-minutes ~ 1 minute per problem

Pre-Algebra/Elementary Algebra (35-45% of the test)

  • Pre-Algebra (20-25%). Questions in this content area are based on basic operations using whole numbers, decimals, fractions, and integers; place value; square roots and approximations; the concept of exponents; scientific notation; factors; ratio, proportion, and percent; linear equations in one variable; absolute value and ordering numbers by value; elementary counting techniques and simple probability; data collection, representation, and interpretation; and understanding simple descriptive statistics.
  • Elementary Algebra (15-20%). Questions in this content area are based on properties of exponents and square roots, evaluation of algebraic expressions through substitution, using variables to express functional relationships, understanding algebraic operations, and the solution of quadratic equations by factoring.

Intermediate Algebra/Coordinate Geometry (30-40% of the test)

  • Intermediate Algebra (15-20%). Questions in this content area are based on an understanding of the quadratic formula, rational and radical expressions, absolute value equations and inequalities, sequences and patterns, systems of equations, quadratic inequalities, functions, modeling, matrices, roots of polynomials, and complex numbers.
  • Coordinate Geometry (15-20%). Questions in this content area are based on graphing and the relations between equations and graphs, including points, lines, polynomials, circles, and other curves; graphing inequalities; slope; parallel and perpendicular lines; distance; midpoints; and conics.

Plane Geometry/Trigonometry (25-35% of the test)

  • Plane Geometry (20-25%). Questions in this content area are based on the properties and relations of plane figures, including angles and relations among perpendicular and parallel lines; properties of circles, triangles, rectangles, parallelograms, and trapezoids; transformations; the concept of proof and proof techniques; volume; and applications of geometry to three dimensions.
  • Trigonometry (5-10%). Questions in this content area are based on understanding trigonometric relations in right triangles; values and properties of trigonometric functions; graphing trigonometric functions; modeling using trigonometric functions; use of trigonometric identities; and solving trigonometric equations.



Passage Types: Literary Narrative Social Studies Humanities Natural Sciences
40-questions 35-minutes ~ 8.5 minuts per passage


  • determine main ideas
  • locate and interpret significant details
  • understand sequences of events
  • make comparisons
  • comprehend cause-effect relationships
  • determine the meaning of context-dependent words, phrases, and statements
  • draw generalizations
  • analyze the author’s or narrator’s voice and method



Passage Types: 3 Data Passages 3 Narrative Passages 1 Conflicting Viewpoint
40-questions 35-minutes ~ 5 minutes per passage


  • recognize and understand the basic features of, and concepts related to, the provided information
  • examine critically the relationship between the information provided and the conclusions drawn or hypotheses developed
  • generalize from given information to gain new information, draw conclusions, or make predictions

The scientific information is conveyed in one of three different formats:

  • Data Representation (3 passages). This format presents graphic and tabular material similar to that found in science journals and texts. The questions associated with this format measure skills such as graph reading, interpretation of scatterplots, and interpretation of information presented in tables.
  • Research Summaries (3 passages). This format provides descriptions of one or more related experiments. The questions focus upon the design of experiments and the interpretation of experimental results.
  • Conflicting Viewpoints (1 passage). This format presents expressions of several hypotheses or views that, being based on differing premises or on incomplete data, are inconsistent with one another. The questions focus on the understanding, analysis, and comparison of alternative viewpoints or hypotheses.



1 Writing Prompt 30 minutes


The test consists of one writing prompt that will define an issue and describe two points of view on that issue. You are asked to respond to a question about your position on the issue described in the writing prompt. In doing so, you may adopt one or the other of the perspectives described in the prompt, or you may present a different point of view on the issue. Your score will not be affected by the point of view you take on the issue.

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