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ACT Test FAQ


SAT: Test FAQ | Classes/Tutoring FAQ
ACT: Test FAQ | Classes/Tutoring FAQ



What is the ACT?

This test is what it is commonly known as the ACTs. It is a reasoning test which tests abilities in English, Mathematics, Reading, Science Reasoning and Writing. It is scored out of 36 and is required for entry to most US colleges. See more information about ACT.



Where can I register for the ACT?

You can register for the ACT here. Before registering, you will need to create a login.



When can I write the ACT test?

The ACT is offered 4-6 times a year in September, October, December, February, April, and June. See ACT Test Dates.



How many times should I take the ACT?

The ACT has no limits on how many times a student can take the ACT. Most students take the exam two or three times to ensure their scores represent the best they can do. Typically, a student will make their first attempt at the ACT in the spring of grade 11 and then rewrite it in the fall of grade 12.

 

When do I have to write the ACT by?

Virtually all schools will accept scores from December of your grade 12 year. After December, it really depends on the schools to which you are applying.



What is the highest possible ACT score?

The highest possible score is 36.

 

Can I just send colleges only my highest ACT scores?

The ACT only reports the scores from the test date you designate, not any other test scores. This ensures that you direct the reporting of your scores. If you tested more than once in the same month, be sure to specify the test location you want reported (for example, National, State, International, School).



Should I guess answers on the ACT?


Unlike the SAT, the ACT does not have a penalty for guessing. Thus, it is often to your advantage to guess. If you can eliminate even one wrong answer, you can tip the odds in your favor and gain more points from strategic guessing.



When should I start to prepare for the ACT?

It’s never too early to start preparing. Students in the US start preparing as early as grade 8. Younger students can prepare by enhancing fundamental academic skills like reading comprehension and writing. In particular, one of the best ways to prepare is to read a large number of books at an early age. We also encourage self-study by purchasing a few ACT preparation books.

 

What scores do I need to be a competitive applicant for top US colleges?

School Type Examples Estimated ACT Score Needed
Most Selective Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, MIT
31-35
Very Selective UPenn, Cornell, Dartmouth, Brown, Columbia, Duke
30-34
Selective Emory, Chicago, Northwestern, Johns Hopkins, Rice
29-33
Top NYU, Boston University, USC, Michigan
28-32

 

 

How important is the ACT?

The ACT is an integral part of the admissions criteria. US colleges utilize the ACT score in combination with the student's GPA and school rank to determine the student's "academic index," an indicator of the student's academic success and potential.

In assessing students from less prominent high schools, admissions officers give the ACT extra weight.

Students who are concerned that their school average and rank might fail to accurately depict their academic potential should view the ACT as an opportunity to demonstrate their skills.

 

How many hours should a student expect to study in preparation for the ACT?

Study time for the ACT varies significantly from student to student. The first step should always be to complete a diagnostic exam in realistic test conditions. Based on the results from this test, the student should determine a reasonable study schedule to improve on his/her weaknesses. Typically, the majority of students will need to dedicate at least 60 hours to maximize performance on the ACT.

 

What I should remember on test date?

On Test Day, make sure to do the following things:

  • Eat breakfast! The ACT takes many hours to write.
  • Bring the correct supplies: at least two number two pencils (no pens or mechanical pencils), a good eraser, and an approved calculator.
  • Wear multiple layers, so that you can put on or take off clothing to adjust to the temperature of the testing room.
  • Show up on time; if you’re late, you will not be admitted.
  • Don’t forget to bring your picture ID and a copy of your printed ticket.

 

How does the ACT differ from the SAT?

The following chart outlines some of the most significant differences between the two tests.

  ACT SAT
Testing Time • 3 hours, 25 minutes (including the 30-minute Writing Test) • 3 hours, 45 minutes
Content • English (grammar), Math, Reading, Science, and Writing (essay) • Reading, Math, and Writing (grammar and essay)
Question Format • Multiple choice (except for the essay) • Multiple choice (except for the essay and 10 math grid-in questions)
Time Structure • English Test: 45 minutes
• Math Test: 60 minutes
• Reading Test: 35 minutes
• Science Test: 35 minutes
• Writing Test (optional): 30 minutes
• Seven 25-minute sections (two each of Reading, Math, and Writing, with one experimental section)
• Two 20-minute sections (one Reading, one Math)
• One 10-minute Writing section
Reading • 4 passages with 10 questions per passage • Sentence completion
• Short and long passages
• More emphasis on vocabulary
Math • Arithmetic
• Geometry
• Algebra
• Trigonometry
• Arithmetic
• Geometry
• Algebra
Science • Data representation
• Research summaries
• Conflicting viewpoints
• N/A
ACT English Test vs. SAT Writing (Multiple Choice) • Multiple choice questions based on improving essays • Multiple choice questions based on improving sentences, identifying sentence errors, and improving paragraphs
ACT Writing Test vs. SAT Writing (Essay) • 30 minutes
• Score scale: 0-12
• Does not affect the composite score
• Topic related to high school students
• Always last section of the exam
• 25 minutes
• Score scale: 0-12
• Factored into the Writing score
• More abstract topic
• Always first section of the exam
Scoring • Composite score of 1-36, based on the average of the 4 test scores
• Each of the 4 tests (English, Math, Reading, Science) is given a score from 1-36
• Score of 0-12 for the optional Writing Test
• Total score of 600-2400, based on the sum of the 3 subject scores
• Each subject (Reading, Writing, Math) score range is 200-800
• Score of 0-12 for the Essay
Wrong Answer Penalty • N/A • ¼ point deducted for each incorrect response
Score Reporting • You decide whether or not to send your test score. • You decide whether or not to send your test score.

If you’re unsure about which test is a better fit for you, give both tests a try.


 
 
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