The ACT stands for American College Testing. The ACT is a test all incoming college students must take in order to attend almost any university or college in America at least, to receive most scholarships and financial aid.
Once you start becoming an upperclassman in high school, you will begin to start hearing more and more about the ACT.
It can be overwhelming to start thinking about taking the ACT and attending college at such a young age, but it is important and just the way that our society runs.
You want to start thinking about the ACT as early as possible.
Even taking it your freshman year to get a feel for it is helpful and won’t hurt you. When your parents or older members in your family took the test, things were a lot different.
So you want to make sure to get advice from teachers, counselors, or other students and peers who have recently taken it.
The ACT changes and advances each year so make sure to do as much research and ask as many questions as you can so that you are best prepared for the test that you are taking.
The ACT is a big determining factor of college acceptance and scholarships, so it is not something that you want to brush off.
Here are some of the basics about the ACT and a couple of tips and tricks to help you do your best along the way.
Overview of the ACT
The ACT is made up of four different sections: Reading, English, Math, and Science. You can also pay extra to take the writing portion of the ACT if the colleges that you are applying to require that section.
If you do take the writing part of the ACT, it does not affect your overall composite score and actually has its own separate score.
The regular test is two hours and fifty- five minutes long and the ACT with writing is three hours and thirty-five minutes long.
It is entirely multiple choice and is graded off of a scantron. You are expected to only our number one pencils and a calculator while taking the exams.
Food and any type of devices are prohibited and can lead to a dismissal of your test score.
Test takers are also expected to stay in the room until the entire test time is finished, you are not allowed to leave early for any reason.
This means one cannot just turn your test in if you finish the last section early. One also cannot work on any section after the time allotted for that section is over.
You must stop working on each section immediately when the proctor tells you to. Refusal to do so leads to the dismissal of your test score.
You will not get a refund if your test is dismissed either.
The regular test only has one ten-minute break and the ACT with writing has two ten-minute breaks.
The multiple-choice scores are usually available online within two weeks but can take up to eight weeks if necessary.
Writing scores are usually available two weeks after you receive your main score.
You are able to see the breakdown of each section as well as any old test scores on your online account that you have to create in order to take the test.
What is the ACT: Math
The math section is an hour-long and is sixty questions long. It covers materials that you are required to learn up to the beginning of your twelfth- grade year.
This means it includes skills and topics from classes like pre-algebra, elementary algebra, intermediate algebra, coordinate geometry, plane geometry, and trigonometry.
You might want to spend a decent amount of time preparing for the math section because some of the areas covered you have not seen or looked at in a while especially if you are in honors classes.
There are many books and websites that can help you study for this section
Make sure to bring your calculator because they do not have extras or extra batteries.
They are also strict about specific kinds of calculators so make sure you do your research and bring on that is allowed.
Your calculator has to stay under your seat or in a bag until the math portion so makes sure that you follow the rules to avoid dismissal of your test score.
The biggest tip I can give from experience with the math section is to skip a question if you can’t figure it out.
It is better to just miss the points on that specific question than to miss points on the last five problems that you didn’t get to because you spent too long on one problem.
There is a question for every minute of this section so spend your time wisely.
If you would like to read more on entrance exams, read our article on the SAT here.
What is the ACT: Reading
The reading section of the ACT is thirty- five minutes long and contains forty questions.
This means that there are more questions than minutes available to work on this section.
This part of the test is focusing on reading comprehension that you will be encountering as a first-year college student.
It shows colleges how well you will be able to comprehend the reading and classwork assigned when one first gets to college.
In this section, you will have four passages to read that each has ten multiple-choice questions about them.
Each multiple-choice question will have four answer choices. The passages usually have the same topics each time.
There will be one fiction passage and then three non-fiction passages. The non-fiction passages will be about humanities, social science, and natural science.
It is important to stay focused during this passage and skim the readings if you have to.
What is the ACT: English
The English section of the ACT is forty-five minutes long with seventy- five questions.
It focuses on your overall knowledge of grammar, punctuation, and understanding of the English language skills.
For this section, there will be five different passages that each have fifteen multiple-choice questions.
There will be two types of questions asked about the passages in this section which are either rhetorical or usage and mechanics.
There may not be an actual error which is why the last option is always to not change what was originally written.
It asks questions on spelling, grammar, punctuation and then there will always be some actual rhetorical questions at the end of each passage.
My advice for this section is to make sure that you go over who and whom before the test.
I would also advise reading the sentence of the passage being questioned over in your head multiple times inserting each multiple-choice answer once.
In conclusion, The ACT is a test for incoming college students and The ACT is made up of four different sections: Reading, English, Math, and Science. For ACT online prep, we recommend Kaplan as a tool to help prepare for the ACT.