A common question people have is, “How long is the ACT test?” There are a number of factors to consider when answering this question:

How long is the ACT test with just the English, Math, Reading, and Science tests alone?

If we added up the amount of time you would spend actually taking the ACT test, here is what the breakdown would look like:

Time Actually Taking the ACT

ACT Section Time
ACT English Test 45 minutes
ACT Math Test 60 minutes
ACT Reading Test 35 minutes
ACT Science Test 35 minutes
Total 175 minutes, or 2 hours 55 minutes

how long is the ACT test

As you can see, the amount of time you will actually be taking the ACT English, Math, Reading, and Science tests is 175 minutes, or 2 hours 55 minutes. However, this is not the total time you will be spending at the ACT test center, due to several other factors.

Four of these factors are 1) taking the ACT Writing test, 2) check-in procedures, 3) administering the test, and 4) breaks.

How long is the ACT test with the optional ACT Writing test included?

The optional ACT writing test is 30 minutes, which will make the time you spend actually taking the ACT look like this:

Time Actually Taking the ACT with the ACT Writing Test

ACT Section Time
ACT English Test 45 minutes
ACT Math Test 60 minutes
ACT Reading Test 35 minutes
ACT Science Test 35 minutes
ACT Writing Test 30 minutes
Total 205 minutes, or 3 hours 25 minutes

The total time you will spend taking the ACT with the optional ACT Writing test included is 205 minutes, or 3 hours 25 minutes. However, again, this is not the total amount of time you will be spending at the ACT test center.


How long is the ACT test in terms of actual time spent at the ACT test center?

When you take the ACT, you will stay at the ACT test center longer than the times listed above. This is because in addition to the time spent taking the different ACT tests, time will also be spent checking in, passing out materials, filling out information on the answer sheet, and reading instructions. There is also a 10-minute break between the Math and Reading tests and a 5-minute break between the Science and Writing tests.

Taking into account all of these additional factors, plan to be at the ACT test center a total of about 4 hours 15 minutes for the ACT test without the Writing option, and about 5 hours for the ACT test with the writing option.

If you take the ACT test at 8:00am, expect to leave the test center at about 12:15pm for the ACT test without the Writing option.

If you take the ACT test with the Writing option, expect to leave the test center at about 1:00pm.

Be Prepared Physically and Mentally for the Length of the ACT Test

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It may surprise you to learn just how long is the ACT test—four to five hours is a long time to spend taking a test. Because of how long the ACT test is, it is very important that you come prepared both physically and mentally for the test.

Make sure you get enough sleep the night before, make sure you eat a good breakfast the morning of the test, and make sure you are mentally prepared to stay focused throughout the entire time of the ACT test. Losing focus can cause your score to drop, but the positive side is that since most students will experience fatigue during the ACT test, if you come prepared to stay alert and focused throughout the entire test, you will have an advantage over most other students.

Visit the ACT Website’s FAQ for More Information about the ACT

While it is less detailed than our articles, the ACT Newsroom has information about how long is the ACT test, as well as answers to other questions.