The Asthma Control Test is a test you can take yourself to assess how well your asthma is controlled. There’s also a version for children ages 4–11 to take with their parents. For both tests, a score of 20 or higher is a good result.

Asthma is a common lung disease. More than 25 million people in the United States have asthma, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC also notes that about 60% of all U.S. adults and 50% of children with asthma don’t have their symptoms controlled.

Poorly controlled asthma usually brings on daily symptoms of:

It also increases your risk of asthma attacks and other complications, like infections.

Your level of asthma control is a key factor for doctors to consider in developing a treatment plan. The Asthma Control Test (ACT) can help doctors understand how asthma affects your daily life.

Let’s take a look at how it works.

The ACT can help you and a healthcare professional understand how well your asthma symptoms are under control. It provides a numeric score to help standardize your asthma control.

While the ACT doesn’t measure your lung function, it considers how your symptoms affect your daily life. This helps doctors guide treatment more effectively.

You can take the test on your own, recalling the effect of your symptoms over the past 4 weeks. Taking the test regularly can help you track your asthma control over time. It can also help doctors assess how your treatments are working.

The ACT comprises five questions that ask you to recall how your asthma symptoms have affected you over the last 4 weeks. The questions relate to:

  • how often your symptoms kept you from doing regular activities
  • how often you were short of breath
  • how often symptoms disrupted your sleep
  • how often you used your rescue medication
  • how well you think your asthma is controlled

Each question carries a score of 1–5. Your total score will be somewhere on a scale of 5–25.

Asthma Control Test for ages 12 and upShare on Pinterest
Illustrated for Healthline by Andrew Nguyen

The Childhood Asthma Control Test (C-ACT) is for children ages 4–11. The child with asthma answers four questions regarding:

  • how their asthma is today
  • their symptoms when they’re physically active
  • how often they cough due to asthma
  • how often asthma disrupts their sleep

Their parent or guardian then answers three questions addressing the number of days in the past month the child:

  • had daytime symptoms
  • wheezed
  • woke up during the night

The final score will be on a scale of 0–27.

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Illustrated for Healthline by Andrew Nguyen

Is the Asthma Control Test available in multiple languages?

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ACT scores range from 5–25 for the adult test and 0–27 for the child test. The higher the score, the better the asthma control.

In both tests, a score of 20 or higher suggests your asthma is probably under control.

ACT (ages 12 and older)C-ACT (ages 4–11)
Well controlled20–2520–27
Not well controlled16–1913–19
Very poorly controlled5–150–12

According to a 2016 research review, researchers have assessed the ACT more than any other similar tool. Studies suggest that the ACT is reliable, valid, and responsive to changes in people’s experiences with asthma. Researchers have found similar results for the C-ACT.

Still, some researchers warn that the test may not be as accurate for certain people. For example, a 2022 study found that people without post-secondary education tended to overestimate the effect of their symptoms.

Although you can take the ACT on your own, it’s best to discuss your results with a doctor. It’s especially important to talk with a doctor as soon as possible if your ACT results suggest your asthma isn’t being managed well. They can discuss your results with you and consider any necessary changes to your treatment plan.

Regardless of your ACT score, the American Lung Association recommends you visit a doctor at least once a year to discuss your asthma. It’s also recommended you talk with a doctor if you:

  • have difficulty with regular activities
  • have a persistent cough
  • still experience wheezing even after taking your medication and giving it time to work

How often should I take the Asthma Control Test?

You can take the ACT as often as you’d like. But since the questions ask you to recall your symptoms over the past 4 weeks, there’s not usually a need to take it more than once a month.

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The ACT is one of several tools medical professionals can use or recommend to assess asthma control. Other common tools include:

TestQuestionsFor adults?For children?
Asthma Control Questionnaire (ACQ)7yesages 6–17
Asthma Control Scoring System (ACSS)8yesno
Asthma Quality of Life Questionnaire (AQLQ)32yesyes (23 questions)
Asthma Therapy Assessment Questionnaire (ATAQ)4yesages 5–17 (20 questions)
Lara Asthma Symptom Scale (LASS)8yesyes
Test for Respiratory and Asthma Control in Kids (TRACK)5noages 0–5

The first step to controlling your asthma is to take your medication exactly as your doctor prescribes. You may also consider the following strategies:

The ACT is one of the most widely used tools to help you and healthcare professionals assess your asthma control. Although it doesn’t measure lung function, it can help you and a doctor better understand how your asthma symptoms affect your daily life.

Taking the test once a month can help you track changes in your asthma control and help a doctor determine whether your treatment plan needs updating.