The ACT Scaling Test (AST) is a test attempted by all ACT Year 12 students wishing to gain an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR), and thereby gain admission to a university. The test measures a range of general critical thinking skills considered to be relevant to success in college, in university, and in post-secondary school life.

What makes up the AST?

The AST comprises of three papers:

  1. The Multiple Choice Test (2.5 hours)
    There will be 80 questions grouped into units, each based on a piece of stimulus material. The material is drawn from the humanities, social sciences, sciences and mathematics areas and is accessible to all senior secondary students.
  2. The Short Response Test (2 hours)
    There will be 15 – 20 questions testing thinking and reasoning. Students will be asked for interpretations, explanations and justification of responses or points of view.
  3. The Writing Task (2.5 hours)
    Students will be given stimulus material on a particular topic and are then expected to write a clear argumentative essay of 600 words.

Who sits the AST?

If you are a Year 12 student who is currently studying a T package and intends to apply for entry to university you must sit the AST. This will allow you to gain an ATAR.

Students with specific medical conditions are not exempt from the test, but special arrangements are made to ensure that such students are not disadvantaged. If you are a student from a Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Background (you have received fewer than four years of education conducted in the English language prior to commencing Year 11 studies), you may elect to sit an abridged test. If you have a medical condition, 

When is the AST held?

The AST is held on the first Tuesday/Wednesday of September each year.

Preparation for the AST

Academic Skills and Thinking (AST) – 2014 T Students

Lake Tuggeranong College provides a 7 term program called Academic Skills and Thinking (AST) to support and prepare tertiary students intending to sit the AST. The program runs Tuesdays-Fridays during afternoon break. Students must attend one session with others from their year cohort every fortnight and complete online modules during alternate weeks. The program is assessable and counts towards students' Year 12 certificate.

The program is set out as follows:

Year 11

Q1 Q2

"Figuring out College"  will equip students with the skills to integrate fully, learn voraciously, and participate meaningfully in college life (0.3 points)

Q3 Q4

"Succeeding At College"  will equip students with the skills to succeed academically, develop socially and emotionally, and take charge of their own future (0.3 points)

Year 12

Q5 Q6

"Approaching Critical Thinking" will equip students with the skills to think deeply, broadly, and insightfully about the world and their pathways within it (0.3 points)


"Approaching the AST" will equip students with the skills to win in the AST (0.1 point)

Whilst the end goal of the program is to prepare students for the AST test, it is also designed to equip your tertiary student with the skills to succeed at College.

This program is further supported by the College's AST trial sittings. We run multiple trial papers across the 7 terms that aim to expose students to the format and structure of the AST as well as the procedures for conduct during the test. Students are provided with comprehensive feedback following each trial.

A Student Information Booklet with further information and sample questions is available to students in Semester 1 of Year 12 but can also be accessed on the BSSS website.

Further information

For further information, please see the ACT BSSS brochure What's the AST? or contact the AST co-ordinator (TBA).