Table of Contents:
- ACT Definition
- ACT Length
- ACT Sections
- ACT Maximum and Average Score
- When should a student take the ACT?
- How to register for the ACT
- How can students prepare for the ACT
What is the ACT
The ACT (American College Testing) is a standardized exam used for higher educational institution admission in the United States.
The ACT normally tests students’ readiness for college and provide admission officers with important information used to compare all candidates. Many colleges use the ACT as an entrance exam. When students submit their test score, admission officers use the results to determine if a candidate is fit for a chance to pursue the chosen course.
- ACT Length
The length of a test is a significant examination requirement that admission officers should consider when assessing students. Just like any other exam, a specific set of the duration of time is also allotted to students sitting for the ACT. This test is divided into four sections composed of questions that should be completed within 2 hours and 55 minutes.
When the time allotted for the ACT is compared to the SAT (which allows at least a minute to complete a question), it is noticed that the time allotted to such sections as reading, English, and science presupposes less than a minute to complete a question. However, this set duration of time can be adjusted if the test taker suffers from any impairment.
1.2 ACT Sections
The ACT has 4 major sections, which are normally offered to students in a specific order: English, Mathematics, Reading, and then Science. Students are also allowed to take writing (optional) with the ACT, which comes last after the main sections. For every ACT section, 36 points are awarded except for the writing section, which is worth only 12 points. The longest test section in terms of time and number of questions is Mathematics (60 minutes) followed by English (75 questions) respectively.
Without further ado, below is a breakdown of ACT sections:
This section is scheduled for 45 minutes and contains 75 questions. In this part, the command of the English language is tested. The tasks are on punctuation, sentence structure, word usage, etc.
This section allows 60 minutes with 60 multiple choice questions. In this section, students’ understanding of geometry, algebra, and trigonometry topics is tested.
To do 40 questions in this part, students are given 35 minutes. This section tests comprehension of the text on natural science topics, fiction, and social studies. Students have to read 4 passages and answer 10 questions in every passage.
This section allows students 35 minutes to answer 40 multiple choice questions. The science tasks are presented in different formats such as tables, charts, research problems, and graphs.
As indicated above, it is normally optional and allows 40 minutes for students to write an essay. It should be noted that even if a student never sits for a writing test, he or she can still attain the average score set for the ACT.
1.3 ACT Maximum and Average Score
The maximum score in the ACT is 36 points while the average of all the four sections is 21 (according to the ACT, Inc.) on a scale of 1 to 36. An average test score of 21 and above means that the student scored higher than 50% of all test takers. When a student understands the average score in the ACT, he or she will be able to set a target score and prepare for the exam properly.
When should a student take the ACT?
Students are given a chance to sit for the ACT six times per year in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. These times are in February, April, and June; then in September and October; and then in December. Outside the three mentioned territories, students can only take the test five times per year. These times are February, April, and June; then in October and December.
Almost all educational administrations set their ACT with the same measure of structure and difficulty covering all types of course materials. However, because this test covers materials recommended in the 11th grade (commonly referred as the junior level) according to the United States’ system of education, it is better if students take their first test during the spring of their junior academic year because much information will still be fresh in their minds. Moreover, students should ensure that they are well prepared before sitting for the ACT.
How to register for the ACT
The two possible ways to register for the ACT is by mail or online. The latter option is faster and cheaper. Apart from that, students can quickly know if their selected test college admission center if available for them. To register for the ACT online, students should have an account on the ACT’s webpage. This website is also available for international students who can also apply on the internet and submit their applications. When a submission ticket is available after a successful payment process, it can be downloaded and printed immediately.
How can students prepare for the ACT
Goals are always set to work towards achieving them. In the same way, students should prepare themselves for the ACT by determining the highest score they would like to attain. When a student sets a target score in mind, they will be informed and motivated to work hard and achieve them. The best way to determine your test target is to aim at attaining something more than the 75% mark accorded for the college you wish to join. So, to know the recommended pass mark of a particular school, search for the school and its 75th percentile in the prep-scholar ACT section.
Secondly, students need to study for the test properly. This can be done by enrolling in prep courses available on the internet or finding a tutor in the neighborhood, who will offer them a one-to-one teaching service. These courses are significant because they aid in the mastery of useful study tips, exam taking skills, and ACT materials to be tested. The courses normally last for some weeks or a few days only. To find the best tutor offering an ACT course, it is important to consult a teacher or an admission officer for recommendations.