The ACT is one of two tests that high school students typically take when they are applying for admission to college. Most students take the ACT during their sophomore or junior year of school, and some students take the test multiple times to try to improve their score.


The ACT contains four main sections --- reading, math, English and science --- with an optional 30-minute essay question. Some colleges require students to take the writing section, while others do not.


Each section of the ACT is scored separately on a scale from 1 to 36. The composite score is determined by calculating the average of these four scores. According to the Princeton Review, the average composite score for the ACT is between 20 and 21. More selective schools will require a score that is above this average, especially if you have a less-than-stellar grade-point average.


There is no limit to the number of times you can retake the ACT, although you have to pay a fee each time you take the test. If you cannot retake your test or raise your score, keep in mind that colleges also take into account other factors --- such as grade-point average, extracurricular activities and extenuating circumstances --- when making admission decisions.