According to the ACT organization, ACT originally stood for American College Testing. However, in 1996 the official organization name was shortened to only ACT. The change was enacted to better reflect the full range of programs and services offered beyond the college entrance testing.
ACT is a private, not-for-profit organization. It was founded in 1959 by E.F. Lindquist and Ted McCarrel. The organization was granted federal income tax exemption in 1965. The national headquarters are located in Iowa City, Iowa. Offices are also located throughout the United States and in various international locations. In the early 1990s, ACT began offering workforce development programs and services in addition to educational assessments.