What is ACT?
The California Department of Education answers that question as follows:
The ACT test is designed to assess a high school student's general educational development and ability to complete college-level work.
How do colleges use ACT?
Many colleges use the ACT results as one factor in the admissions process. ACT, a non-profit organization, has developed the test administered in locations around the world.
This video explains ACT.
What does the test cover?
From the ACT website:
"The ACT test covers four subject areas: English, mathematics, reading, and science. Each subject area test receives a score ranging from 1 to 36. The composite score is the average of all four subject area test scores. Many colleges and universities use ACT scores as one factor in making admissions decisions."
When can you take the test?
The ACT is administered here in the United States seven times a year. International testing takes place five times a year. Be sure to consult ACT's website to confirm upcoming test dates and register. Don't wait until the last minute to register.
How much does the test cost?
What if I am homeschooled or require special accommodations?
Homeschooled students will have to complete and submit a form before taking the test. The same thing applies in the case of a broken arm or other extenuating circumstances.
How can I practice the test?
You have various options for practicing the test: online, test books, and tutoring. Online sites include Petersons, Princeton Review, and Kaplan. Each organization has its proprietary approach to showing you how to practice for ACT. It doesn't matter which organization you choose. What matters is that you select a site and spend some serious time practicing. Make sure you take advantage of any tips and strategies they offer. These organizations are pros. They've been coaching test-takers for decades.
Finally, ACT offers free test prep and several more resources, including study guides.
This video enables you to work a practice ACT test to the clock.
Are there any ACT test prep books?
Yes. Several books offer an analog approach to preparing for your ACT test. PrepScholar has compiled a list of The 10 Best ACT Books Recommended for ACT Prep. Whether you use a test prep book or an online test prep site, begin practicing four to six months in advance. Work each section a couple of times until you understand the questions and the strategies involved. Then work several complete practice tests against the clock. That way, you will be confident on the day of the actual test. Furthermore, you will know how much time to spend on each question and section of the test. The adage applies: "Practice makes perfect!"
Should I get help from a tutor?
If you have never taken a standardized test before or do not take tests well, hiring a tutor for a few sessions makes sense. Tutors have the experience and ability to determine what the issue is. That individual attention might make all the difference between an unsure test taker and a confident young person who will shine on the test day.
Are standardized admissions tests falling out of favor?
Read Is this the end for college admissions test? in Higher Ed Dive for a factual answer to this question. Indeed, the pandemic impacted the testing industry significantly in 2020 and early 2021. However, the bottom line is that standardized admissions tests are only one factor in an applicant's college admission portfolio.
What help will the school provide?
Schools that use a traditional approach to preparing their students for college will mainly use the SAT and the Advanced Placement curriculum or the ACT test preparation. Very few schools can afford the cost or have the academic resources to teach both tests. If ACT is the test you want your child to prepare for, you probably should ask which testing program the schools on your shortlist use. Do this while you are looking at schools. If you decide that your child should take the ACT later, you will have to provide test preparation for the test on your own.
If your school prepares students for ACT, familiarize yourself with what that preparation involves. Then, be prepared to supplement your child's in-school test preparation with practice tests and tutoring as needed.
This video advises what to do and not to do the night before your test.
Prepare every day!
No, you don't have to take a practice ACT exam every day. But, remember that doing your best in every class every day is the best way to prepare for a standardized college admissions test. Even better, all those As and wonderful teacher comments and recommendations will flesh out that academic profile that is, after all, an important part of your admissions folder.
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