You’ve probably heard of the ACT, SAT, and PSAT, but how much do you know about the PreACT? This page contains all you need to know about what the PreACT is, how it works, and how taking it can benefit you.

What is the PreACT?

The PreACT is a low-stakes pre-exam for the ACT designed by ACT, the nonprofit organization of the same name that administers the ACT. The PreACT is a slightly shorter, slightly easier exam designed to help students prepare for the official ACT exam by simulating the test and testing experience. The PreACT is a paper-and-pencil test comprised of multiple-choice sections for English, Math, Reading, and Science. (Unlike the official ACT exam, the PreACT does not have an essay section.) The PreACT also contains information designed to aid in discussions about college majors and career paths. If you want to get a sense of how you might score on the ACT based on where you currently stand and also get some ACT practice before the “real” ACT, the PreACT is the test to take.

When and where can I take the PreACT?

The PreACT is targeted to grade 10 students and can be taken on any date between September 1st and June 1st. Currently, interested students have to sign up for the PreACT through a school that offers it. If your school doesn’t offer the PreACT, you may be able to take it at a nearby school that does. Check with your guidance counselor to learn more about this option.

What content is covered on the PreACT?

The PreACT covers the same sections as does the ACT. Below is information on what content is covered.


Subject Matter Included

Question Types Included


Grammar & usage, punctuation, sentence structure, strategy, organization, topic development, style, knowledge of language

Four-choice, multiple-choice usage/mechanics and rhetorical skills questions; section includes four prose passages with questions specific to each passage


Pre-algebra, algebra, geometry, coordinate geometry

Five-choice, multiple-choice questions



Reading comprehension, main idea, purpose, tone, meaning of words in context

Four-choice, multiple-choice main idea, detail-oriented, vocab-in-context, and inference questions; section includes three prose passages (social sciences, humanities, and prose fiction) with questions specific to each passage



Interpretation, analysis, evaluation, reasoning, and problem solving


Four-choice, multiple-choice data representation, research summaries, and conflicting viewpoints questions



What information will be available after taking the PreACT?

After testing, students will receive an estimated ACT score based on their performance, as well as data that they can use to help them understand their performance and prepare for the official exam. Teachers will also be able to use this data for guidance and placement. Reports on performance will be available within 2-4 weeks of answer documents being received by ACT, so that teachers, parents, and students can use this information to prepare for the official exam. These reports will also include information about student interests that can be used by counselors in advising students about college majors and future career paths.

What are some key differences between the PreACT and the official ACT?

Below is a comparison of the PreACT and the ACT.





45 questions, 30 minutes (40 seconds per question)

75 questions, 45 minutes (36 seconds per question)


36 questions, 40 minutes (67 seconds per question), no trigonometry

60 questions, 60 minutes (60 seconds per question)


25 questions, 30 minutes (72 seconds per question)

40 questions, 35 minutes (52.5 seconds per question)


30 questions, 30 minutes (60 seconds per question)

40 questions, 35 minutes (52.5 seconds per question)

Writing (Essay)

No writing section

Optional writing section

Total time

2.5 hours (including breaks), plus 1 hour of pre-test activities

Without essay – 3.5 hours (with breaks)

With essay – just over 4 hours (with breaks)

Scoring Scale



Used for college admissions




Can the PreACT be used for college admissions?

The PreACT is strictly for practice only – while it will provide insight into a student’s readiness for the official ACT exam, it cannot be used for college admissions. However, students can choose to have their information shared with colleges and scholarship organizations when taking the PreACT, which has the potential of providing increased opportunities for recruitment and scholarship awards.

Taking the PreACT is a wonderful opportunity to dip your feet into the world of standardized testing. When you’re ready to graduate to the ACT, dive into our book, ACT Prep. And for more advice and insight into college admissions and testing, check out our YouTube channel.