The ACT test is a standardized exam used for college admissions in the United States. It measures students’ skills in four academic areas – English, math, reading, and science. In addition, an optional writing section measures skill in planning and writing a short essay.
One of the four required sections of the ACT is the AC or Arts/Creativity section. This section aims to assess test takers’ creative and innovative thinking skills. Many students wonder, “how long does the AC section take on the ACT exam?”
This complete guide covers everything you need to know about the time allotted and structure of the AC creativity section of the ACT test.
Key Takeaways on the AC Section Time Limit:
- The AC section of the ACT lasts 35 minutes and contains 1 set of 40 questions.
- You have 52.5 seconds per question to complete the AC section.
- The time limit is tight, so you need to work efficiently and accurately.
- Pacing yourself well and skipping hard questions to return to later is key to finishing on time.
- With practice tests, you can improve your timing and pacing for the real AC section.
What is the ACT Exam and AC Section?
The ACT is a curriculum-based college entrance exam accepted by all 4-year universities and colleges in the United States. It tests students in core high school subjects and has 5 main sections:
- English – 45 minutes, 75 questions
- Math – 60 minutes, 60 questions
- Reading – 35 minutes, 40 questions
- Science – 35 minutes, 40 questions
- Optional Writing – 40 minutes, 1 essay
The AC or Arts/Creativity section was added in 2022 to assess creative thinking skills considered important for college and career readiness. It replaces the ACT Reading section.
The AC section contains 40 questions that must be completed in 35 minutes. The questions test your ability to think flexibly, make unexpected connections, and generate original ideas.
You are not allowed to use calculators or any other aids during this section.
Key Timing Details of the ACT AC Section:
Here are the key timing specifications you need to know about the ACT’s AC section:
- Total time: 35 minutes
- Number of questions: 40
- Time per question: 52.5 seconds
- Order: After English, before Math and Science sections
You have just 52.5 seconds on average to answer each question in the AC creativity section. This is a very tight time limit.
The AC section comes after the English section but before the Math and Science sections. You cannot save time from other sections of the ACT to use for the AC portion.
The timed conditions require concentration, efficiency, and quick but accurate responses. Rushing leads to careless mistakes while working too slowly means you may run out of time before attempting all questions.
Why the Strict Time Limit?
The ACT makers impose strict time constraints on the AC section to:
- Assess your ability to think creatively under pressure. College and careers often demand quick ideation and problem solving.
- Ensure standardization. Uniform timing ensures all test takers take the exam under the same conditions.
- Prevent cheating. The tight time limit allows less opportunity to cheat.
- Maximize questions. More questions and less time per question creates a better assessment.
- Match real-world needs. Timed creative thinking aligns with how these skills are used in academic and professional settings.
- Rank performance. Your AC score is based on the number of correct answers minus a fraction of wrong answers. Working quickly while maintaining accuracy gives the best score.
How Should You Prepare for the Timing of the ACT AC Section?
To master the ACT’s AC creativity section under the strict 35-minute time limit, make sure to:
Take full practice tests – Take official practice exams under real timed conditions to accurately gauge your pacing. Review your performance to identify areas for improvement.
Practice individual AC sections – Work through standalone practice AC sections repeatedly to improve your speed. Master strategies to help overcome the time crunch.
Improve your reading speed – Faster reading equals more time for comprehension and answering. Work on increasing your reading pace.
Learn effective time management – Pacing yourself well, skipping questions strategically, and using your time wisely are essential skills to develop.
Get comfortable with the question types – Familiarize yourself thoroughly with the ACT AC question formats you’ll face so you don’t waste time figuring them out.
Avoid distractions and stress – Practice concentrating under pressure. Manage test anxiety through relaxation techniques. Arrive well-rested and prepared.
Rely on your first instinct – Trust your gut on questions rather than second guessing yourself, which uses up valuable time.
Helpful Timing Strategies for the ACT AC Section
Utilize research-backed approaches during the exam to make the most of the 35 minutes allotted:
- Plan 1 minute to read and comprehend the short creativity scenario at the start.
- Take 39 seconds per question on your first pass through the section, marking those you’re unsure of.
- Go back to flagged questions with remaining time, using no more than 1 minute per question.
- Leave 5 minutes at the end to complete your review of marked questions. Guess intelligently if needed.
- Skip and come back to questions that stump you or seem time consuming. Mark them to revisit later.
- Answer easier questions first to maximize your score before running out of time.
- Use reasoning shortcuts instead of starting from scratch for similar question types.
- Watch out for long distractors designed to waste your time. Ignore obviously incorrect answers.
- Keep moving forward if stuck too long on a question. Make an educated guess and stay on pace.
What Question Types Are on the ACT AC Section?
The ACT AC section aims to assess your ability to think flexibly, make unexpected connections, and generate original ideas. The questions come in a variety of formats testing different aspects of creativity.
Common question types include:
- Pattern recognition – Find the missing element
- Visual connections – Select the visual that fits a set
- Category selection – Choose the option that doesn’t belong
- Uses & applications – Identify alternative uses for common objects
- Insight & inference – Draw conclusions from limited information
- Evaluate perspectives – Determine the meaning of ambiguous stimuli
- Interpret themes – Select the theme expressed in a set of images
- Complete sequences – Determine missing components of a sequence
- Analogies – Choose an image that completes a visual analogy
- Unusual uses – Select inventive uses for objects based on depicted scenarios
Expect a mix of these creative thinking questions in a random order. They spur quick divergent and convergent thinking under pressure.
How is the ACT AC Section Scored?
Your raw score on the ACT’s AC section is simply the number of questions you answer correctly. There is no penalty for incorrect answers.
However, your raw score is converted to a scaled score between 1-36. AC section scores are calculated using a proprietary scaling system just like other ACT sections.
This compensates for variances in difficulty across test forms. The scaling attempts to standardize scores, making it easier for colleges to compare applicants.
To maximize your scaled AC score:
- Aim for at least 30 correct to achieve a good scaled score. Get 34+ right for an excellent score.
- Answer all questions since there’s no penalty for wrong answers. Even random guesses will add points.
- Pace yourself carefully to ensure you have time to attempt all 40 questions in the section.
- Be as accurate as possible in your responses. Wrong answers deduct points from your raw score during the scaling process.
What is a Good AC Section Score on the ACT?
The AC section, like all ACT sections, is scored on a 1-36 point scale. Earning a high score requires answering most questions correctly at a quick pace.
Here are the scaled score ranges for the ACT’s creativity section:
- 30-36 – Excellent Score
- 24-29 – Good Score
- 18-23 – Average Score
- 12-17 – Below Average
- 1-11 – Poor
To be competitive for top colleges, aim for an excellent scaled score between 30-36 on the AC section.
Meeting this goal requires thorough preparation. Take practice tests to improve your pacing, accuracy, and question strategies.
With a solid understanding of creative thinking principles and effective time management approaches, you can excel on this vital ACT section.
Frequently Asked Questions About the ACT AC Section Time Limit
How many minutes do you have total for the ACT’s AC section?
You have exactly 35 minutes total to complete the 40 questions in the ACT’s creativity section.
Why is the ACT AC section timed?
ACT sections are strictly timed to standardize conditions, prevent cheating, and simulate real-world demands. The AC section assesses creative thinking under pressure.
Do you have the same amount of time for all ACT sections?
No. English, Math, Reading, and Science have different timings. Only the AC and Science sections provide 35 minutes to answer 40 questions.
Can you go back to AC section questions you skipped after finishing the section?
No. Once time is called for the AC section, you must immediately stop work. Any skipped questions will be scored as incorrect.
If you finish the AC section early, can you use the extra time on other sections?
No. Each ACT section has its own time limit that cannot be extended or transferred elsewhere. There are no breaks between sections.
Should you rush at the end of the AC section to randomly fill in answers?
Rushing leads to careless mistakes. It’s best to pace yourself to attempt all questions then make smart guesses on those you had to skip.
Key Takeaways on the ACT AC Section Time Limit
- You have 35 minutes total to complete 40 questions for an average of 52.5 seconds per question.
- Take full practice tests and repeated individual sections to improve pacing and accuracy.
- Use time management strategies like skipping and revisiting hard questions.
- Answer easier questions first to maximize your raw score before time runs out.
- Aim for at least 30 right answers to achieve a strong scaled score between 30-36.
Master the ACT’s tight time limit on the AC section through preparation. With speed and accuracy, you can successfully demonstrate your creative thinking abilities.