The ACT test, also known as American College Testing, can be used to establish the type of student wanted by different schools. Although not as widely used as the SAT, having the essential tools required by the ACT can help with the SAT test.
As with most aptitude tests, the ACT test will be taken in sections. There are four main sections and an optional Writing section which is an original essay. The main sections are English, Reading, Math and Science and breaks down as follows:
English: 5 passages of 75 total questions over a 45 minute period. 40 usage metrics and 35 rhetorical skills are tested for. This is a multiple choice section and has a maximum score of 36
Math: 60 questions in 60 minutes. They test for 24 elementary and pre-algebra questions and 18 intermediate algebra. This is also a multiple choice section with a maximum score of 36
Reading: 40 questions over 35 minutes. Testing covers Prose, the Humanities, Social Studies and Natural Science. This section has a maximum score of 36 and is multiple choice as well.
Science: 7 Data sets with a total of 40 questions to be answered in 35 minutes. Interpretation, analysis, evaluation, reasoning and other problem solving skills that are required for the natural sciences are tested for. This is also a multiple choice section with an overall maximum score of 36
The optional Writing test is one prompted essay to be completed in 30 minutes. The main point of this is to present one point of view in an original essay response and can net an additional 12 points
While that doesn't seem like a lot to have to cope with, you can't bounce between sections without running the risk of being asked to leave the test. Also, these test sections are all given on one day, so there is no splitting up of the test. That means test takers will be testing for a minimum of just under three hours, to a maximum of almost three and a half hours. That is quite a difficult process.
Having the required skills to take the ACT will also be beneficial when taking the SAT, which is the more popular test. Because you have taken both test, the college you will have applied to will be more willing to take that second look at you.