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The ACT originally an abbreviation of American College Testing) is a standardized test used for college admissions in the United States. It was first introduced in November 1959 by University of Iowa professor Everett Franklin Lindquist as a competitor to the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). It is currently administered by ACT, a nonprofit organization of the same name.

The ACT originally consisted of four tests: English, Mathematics, Social Studies, and Natural Sciences. In 1989, however, the Social Studies test was changed into a Reading section (which included a social sciences subsection), and the Natural Sciences test was renamed the Science Reasoning test, with more emphasis on problem-solving skills as opposed to memorizing scientific facts.In February 2005, an optional Writing Test was added to the ACT, mirroring changes to the SAT that took place in March of the same year. In 2013, ACT announced that students would be able to take the ACT by computer starting in the spring of 2015;however, by the fall of 2017, computer-based ACT tests were available only for school-day testing in limited school districts in the US, with greater availability not expected until at least the fall of 2018.

The required portion of the ACT is divided into four multiple choice subject tests: English, mathematics, reading, and science reasoning. Subject test scores range from 1 to 36; all scores are integers. The English, mathematics, and reading tests also have subscores ranging from 1 to 18 (the subject score is not the sum of the subscores). In addition, students taking the optional writing test receive a writing score ranging from 2 to 12 (this is a change from the previous 1�36 score range); the writing score does not affect the composite score. The ACT has eliminated the combined English/writing score and has added two new combined scores: ELA (an average of the English, Reading, and Writing scores) and STEM (an average of the Math and Science scores). These changes for the writing, ELA, and STEM scores were effective starting with the September 2015 test.

Each question answered correctly is worth one raw point, and there is no penalty for marking incorrect answers on the multiple-choice parts of the test; a student can answer all questions without a decrease in their score due to incorrect answers. This is parallel to several AP Tests eliminating the penalties for incorrect answers. To improve the result, students can retake the test: 55% of students who retake the ACT improve their scores, 22% score the same, and 23% see their scores decrease.