Official explanations of new ACT reporting categories as published in the official practice test for 2016/2017: Preparing for the ACT


Production of Writing (POW)

The questions in this category require you to apply your understanding of the purpose and focus of a piece of writing.

  • Topic Development: Demonstrate an understanding of, and control over, the rhetorical aspects of texts. Identify the purposes of parts of texts, determine whether a text or part of a text has met its intended goal, and evaluate the relevance of material in terms of a text’s focus.
  • Organization, Unity, and Cohesion: Use various strategies to ensure that a text is logically organized, flows smoothly, and has an effective introduction and conclusion.


Knowledge of Language (KLA)

Demonstrate effective language use through ensuring precision and concision in word choice and maintaining consistency in style and tone.


Conventions of Standard English (CSE)

The questions in this category require students to apply an understanding of the conventions of standard English grammar, usage, and mechanics to revise and edit text.
• Sentence Structure and Formation: Apply understanding of sentence structure and formation in a text and to make revisions to improve the writing.

  • Punctuation: Recognize common problems with standard English punctuation and to make revisions to improve the writing.
  • Usage: Recognize common problems with standard English usage in a text and to make revisions to improve the writing.



Preparing for Higher Math (PHM)

This category captures the more recent mathematics that students are learning, starting when students begin using algebra as a general way of expressing and solving equations. This category is divided into the following five subcategories.
• Number & Quantity (7–10%)
Demonstrate knowledge of real and complex number systems. You will understand and reason with numerical quantities in many forms, including integer and rational exponents, and vectors and matrices.
• Algebra (12–15%)
Solve, graph, and model multiple types of expressions. You will employ many different kinds of equations, including but not limited to linear, polynomial, radical, and exponential relationships. You will find solutions to systems of equations, even when represented by simple matrices, and apply your knowledge to applications.
• Functions (12–15%)
The questions in this category test knowledge of function definition, notation, representation, and application. Questions may include but are not limited to linear, radical, piecewise, polynomial, and logarithmic functions. You will manipulate and translate functions, as well as find and apply important features of graphs.
• Geometry (12–15%)
Define and apply knowledge of shapes and solids, such as congruence and similarity relationships or surface area and volume measurements. Understand composition of objects, and solve for missing values in triangles, circles, and other figures, including using trigonometric ratios and equations of conic sections.
• Statistics & Probability (8–12%)
Describe center and spread of distributions, apply and analyze data collection methods, understand and model relationships in bivariate data, and calculate probabilities, including the related sample spaces.


Integrated Essentials Skills (IES)

These questions address concepts typically learned before 8th grade, such as rates and percentages; proportional relationships; area, surface area, and volume; average and median; and expressing numbers in different ways. You will solve problems of increasing complexity, combine skills in longer chains of steps, apply skills in more varied contexts, understand more connections, and become more fluent.


Modeling (MDL)

This category represents all questions that involve producing, interpreting, understanding, evaluating, and improving models. Each question is also counted in other appropriate reporting categories above. This category is an overall measure of how well you use modeling skills across mathematical topics.



Key Ideas & Details (KID)

Read texts closely to determine central ideas and themes. Summarize information and ideas accurately. Read closely to understand relationships and draw logical inferences and conclusions including understanding sequential, comparative, and cause-effect relationships.


Craft & Structure (CS)

Determine word and phrase meanings, analyze an author’s word choice rhetorically, analyze text structure, understand authorial purpose and perspective, and analyze characters’ points of view. You will interpret authorial decisions rhetorically and differentiate between various perspectives and sources of information.


Integration of Knowledge & Ideas (IKI)

Understand authors’ claims, differentiate between facts and opinions, and use evidence to make connections between different texts that are related by topic. Some questions will require you to analyze how authors construct arguments, evaluating reasoning and evidence from various sources.



Interpretation of Data (IOD)

Manipulate and analyze scientific data presented in tables, graphs, and diagrams (e.g., recognize trends in data, translate tabular data into graphs, interpolate and extrapolate, and reason mathematically).


Scientific Investigation (SIN)

Understand experimental tools, procedures, and design (e.g., identify variables and controls) and compare, extend, and modify experiments (e.g., predict the results of additional trials).


Evaluation of Models, Inferences & Experimental Results (EMI)

Judge the validity of scientific information and formulate conclusions and predictions based on that information (e.g., determine which explanation for a scientific phenomenon is supported by new findings).