Making sense of ACT, out of the alphabet soup of college admission exams
Last Updated On April 4, 2023 By Arikaran Kumar
Many parents of high school students preparing to apply for college, may have heard of the ACT exam. In this blog, I'll discuss what the ACT is, who should take it, why you should consider taking it, and the advantages of taking the ACT exam over the SAT exam. I'll also answer some frequently asked questions about the ACT test.
The ACT exam, also known as the American College Testing exam, is a standardized test. The ACT exam was first administered in 1959 as an alternative to the SAT. Today, the ACT is one of the most widely accepted college entrance exams. Colleges and universities in the United States, Canada and several other countries use this test to evaluate students’ academic readiness for college-level work and predict their academic success. Each year, more than two million students worldwide take this test. The exam consists of multiple-choice questions in four subject areas namely English, mathematics, reading, and science.
- The English section tests students’ knowledge of grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure.
- The mathematics section tests students’ math skills, including algebra, geometry, and trigonometry.
- The reading section tests students’ ability to comprehend and analyze written passages, and
- The science section tests students’ knowledge of scientific reasoning and problem-solving.
Students have the choice to take an optional writing section.
No Of Questions
No. of choices
2 h 55 min.
MCQ + Writing
3 h 35 min.
Who Should Take the ACT Exam?
The ACT is not required by all colleges and universities, but many of the top colleges and universities in the United States require or recommend that students submit the ACT or SAT test scores. Therefore, it is important for students to research the admissions requirements of the colleges and universities in the United States that require the ACT test results and should take the test that is required or recommended by those institutions.
Students who prefer multiple-choice questions over the SAT's more analytical format may prefer the ACT. Typically, students during their junior year in high school who are planning to attend college in the United States or Canada take this test. Some students may take it earlier or later during the senior year.
In addition to high school students, the ACT exam can also be taken by adult learners who are interested in pursuing higher education. The exam is available at testing centers throughout the United States, as well as in many other countries around the world.
In conclusion, we hope that this blog post has provided you with a basic understanding of what the ACT exam is and who might benefit from taking it. The ACT exam is a standardized test that assesses a student's readiness for college and can be used for admission and scholarship decisions. Generally, high school juniors and seniors take the ACT, but some younger students may also choose to take it to gauge their academic progress.
In our next blog post, we will dive deeper into the reasons why one should take the ACT exam. This will include discussing the benefits of taking the exam, such as improving your chances of being accepted into your preferred colleges, qualifying for scholarships, and providing an opportunity to showcase your academic abilities. Additionally, we will also discuss the structure of the exam and provide tips on how to prepare for it. Stay tuned for more valuable information on the ACT exam!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is ACT exam used for?
The ACT exam is a standardized test used for college admissions in the United States. It measures students' skills and knowledge in areas such as English, math, reading, science, and writing (optional). It is also used for academic placement purposes and by some scholarship organizations.
What are the ACT Test Section?
The ACT test consists of four sections:
English: This section tests your grammar, usage, and punctuation skills, and includes multiple-choice questions and a writing prompt.
Math: This section tests your math skills, including algebra, geometry, and trigonometry. The questions are multiple-choice and you are not allowed to use a calculator for one
portion of the test.
Reading: This section tests your ability to understand and analyze written passages. You will read four passages and answer multiple-choice questions based on the content.
Science: This section tests your skills in interpreting scientific data, graphs, and charts, and includes multiple-choice questions based on scientific passages.
There is also an optional Writing section, which requires you to write an essay in response to a given prompt.
How is the ACT scored?
Each of the ACT sections whether Reading, Math, English, and Science are scored on a range of 1-36. The scores of all the sections were then added together and divided by four to get the composite score.
What is the duration of the ACT?
The ACT exam is 2 hours and 55 minutes long. If you add the optional writing section then add 40 minutes more. Then the total duration of ACT is 3 hours and 35 minutes after adding the writing section.
When should my child start preparing for the ACT? How much Test prep is needed?
The standardized tests evaluate the student’s subject matter proficiency learnt over their K-12 education. Naturally, there is no single book one can read to ace the standardized tests. May be to put things in perspective, your child should start preparing for the ACT from the beginning of their high school year. By junior year, students should have completed algebra I, algebra II, geometry, and some trigonometry, requirements for the ACT math portion of the test.
On the other hand, students need to learn, practice and master test taking skills. The ability to successfully arrive at the correct answer in a limited time differentiate a perfect scorer and others. At a minimum, students should begin preparing three months in advance of their test date. Our ACT test preparation programs are 10-weeks long* and encompass all the material covered on the ACT for both verbal and math sections.
Mrs. Emimmal Sekar Proofread this article. Mr. Arikaran Kumar manages the website and the social media outreach.