What is the ACT?
The ACT is an entrance exam used by most colleges and universities to make admissions decisions. Some colleges and universities also use ACT results when considering admissions to Honors programs and in awarding merit scholarships.
The ACT is a multiple-choice test that includes one section each of
- English – revising short texts based on grammar, punctuation, word choice, structure, and other writing elements
- Math – testing math skills up through some pre-calculus (calculator permitted)
- Reading – testing the ability to answer questions about different kinds of passages based on textual evidence and the integration of information
- Science – testing the interpretation, analysis, evaluation, reasoning, and problem-solving skills in various sciences, without requiring detailed scientific knowledge
The ACT also includes an optional Writing test that is scored on a scale of 2-12. The writing score does not affect the composite ACT score. Only a handful of colleges require students to take the writing section, and most students choose not to do so.
Taking the ACT
The ACT is generally a paper-and-pencil exam. However, ACT is currently offering a pilot program of an online option to some students.
Ways to Take ACT
At a Test Center
The ACT is given at test centers on seven Saturdays throughout the year, although students can request Sunday testing for religious reasons.
Individual schools and districts can choose to offer the ACT
in-school on various other dates.
The ACT Requires Students to Apply Their Knowledge to New Situations
Although the ACT content is related to a typical school curriculum, taking the ACT is not the same experience for students as taking tests in school. Classroom teachers prepare their students for material-based testing. The ACT requires students to apply their knowledge to new situations and new types of questions.
Preparing for and taking the test can be stressful for students, so it is important for parents to be encouraging and positive.
Our tutoring program is also designed to reduce students’ stress by showing them how to approach the different kinds of questions and giving them lots of practice while working with a tutor in a caring, supportive environment.
ACT counts the number of correct questions in each section and then converts that raw score to a scaled score. There is no penalty for guessing on the ACT; a blank answer and an incorrect answer have the same effect on the score. Therefore, a student should answer all questions.
The range of scores for each section of the ACT is 1-36. The composite score is an average of the four section scores and its range is, therefore, also 1-36.
Many schools “superscore” ACT results when reviewing a student’s application: they combine a student’s highest English, Math, Reading, and Science scores from different test dates.
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