Why Take an ACT Test
An ACT (American college test) is a standardized test that most colleges and universities use to pick the most qualified students for admission into their academic programs. It is almost similar to Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT), but it tests students on what they learned at school while SAT tests aptitude and ability to learn. SAT is an exam for what students have not studied, but ACT rewards them for good study habits.
The purpose of the ACT is to measure the readiness of a high school student for college using a standard data point to compare all the applicants. College admissions officers will review the ACT test scores along with high school GPA, high school classes and letters of recommendation. They also evaluate ACT besides personal statements, admission interview performance and participation in extracurricular activities.
The level of ACT score importance to application process varies from one school to another, but overall a higher score increases chances of admission.
SectionS of an ACT
The ACT is a 175-minute exam with 40 additional minutes if a student decided to take a writing test.These four major sections make up an ACT plus an option to take a writing test.
Reading test (total time 35 minutes)
An ACT reading test has 40 questions focusing on reading comprehension. A test taker will answer the questions about explicit and implicit meanings in textual passages.
Science Test (total time 35 minutes)
A science test for the ACT has 40 questions relating to natural sciences. Its questions cover introductory biology, physics, chemistry and earth science.
English test (total time 45 minutes)
It is a test of 75 questions relating to Standard English. Topics in an ACT English test include:
- Word usage
- Word choice
- Rules of punctuation
- Sentence construction
- Cohesion, style, and tone
Mathematics test (total time 60 minutes)
Mathematics is the longest test of the ACT relating to high school math. It covers various topics including geometry, algebra, modeling, functions, and statistics among others. Students can use calculators although the exam design has questions that students can solve mentally.
Optional ACT writing test (total time 40 minutes)
Test takers write an essay for their writing test. They all write an essay on a given topic. An essay prompt provides several perspectives on an issue that test takers need to analyze and present their point of view.
How to Calculate an ACT Score
ACT raw score – The total score for the number of questions a test taker answers correctly in a section. For example, if you answer 60 math questions correctly, you will get a raw score of 60.
ACT Scaled score – The core that a taker gets on each section after scaling or raw score. It ranges from 1-36, the highest rating on a single section. For example, if you get 74 questions correctly in an English test, the scaled score will be 35.
ACT Composite score- An average scaled score of the four mandatory tests. The highest composite score is 36.
A score for ACT writing test is separate from other four sections.
Contribution of ACT to College Admission
The impact of ACT score in getting admission depends on colleges and universities. Some emphasize academic records while others have high regard for standardized test scores. Ivy League schools and most top-tier public universities require scores from an ACT.
Many schools that accept the ACT test scores also allow students to take SAT. You choice depend on the popularity of each at the place you reside. For example in the United States, ACT is more popular in central states while SAT has more takers at East and West coasts.
An ACT test is available six times in a year in February, April, June, September, October, and December. Most students prefer to take this exam once when in junior school and another time when beginning their senior year.