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College ACT Basics
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Realistically, the more selective colleges are going to look for
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The ACT is another exam that colleges can use for admissions purposes. Basically, the ACT s an achievement test that measures your academic achievement in certain course subjects. There is a multiple-choice english test, math test, science test, and reading test. In addition to that, there's an optional 30-minute essay.
Most colleges require that a student takes either the ACT or the SAT. Most colleges will accept either one as an admissions test, but you want to check with the college admissions office to make sure that you are going to take the appropriate test for that college, whether it is the ACT or the SAT.
Both exams are used by colleges for admissions purposes. There really are some major differences between the ACT and the SAT. First, the ACT is an achievement test. It's measuring the specific knowledge and skills that a student's gained in certain core subjects: English reading, math, and science. The SAT is much more of a reasoning test. It's a thinking test. And it's testing a certain kind of thinking. It may not be the particular way that some students think so they may be better off taking the ACT. The ACT has four or five sub-components to it: an English, a math, a science, a reading and an optional writing section, whereas the SAT just has three components: the math, the critical reading and the writing section. In addition, there's no guessing penalty on the ACT (in other words, you're really encouraged to answer every question). In the ACT, you only get points for answering questions correctly. You don't have that quarter of a point guessing penalty that the SAT has. Finally, you have what's known on the ACT as the score choice option. If you have taken several ACTs you can send the results of the best test that you have taken to the colleges to which you're interested in applying. However, on the SAT, the score report that you send to colleges has the result of every SAT you've taken.
More and more students are now taking both exams and seeing which one they do better at. In general, I found that most students do about the same on the two exams. But some students find the SAT easier, and more and more students find the ACT easier. So it's really whatever you're comfortable taking.
There's a 45 minute English section, a 60 minute math section, a 35 minute reading session, and a 35 minute science section on the ACT. In addition, there's an optional 30 minute ACT essay, or writing, section.
You'll receive a score from 1 to 36 on each of the 4 ACT components. Those 4 scores are then averaged into what's known as the composite ACT score, that also falls on the 1 to 36 scale. In addition, the essay is scored on a 2 to 12 scale, with 2 being the lowest score you can receive and 12 being the highest score you can receive. If you decide to write the ACT essay, you're then going to be given two additional scores on your score report on the ACT. You're going to get a score for the essay and then you're going to get a combined English and writing score. These two scores don't affect the other 4 components on the ACT.
There's really no such thing as a "good" or a "bad" ACT score. Each college has its criteria for admissions. You'd want to check with the website of the college that you're interested in to see if you fall within the range that most of the "admitees" fall into. Realistically, the more selective colleges are going to look for ACT composites probably above the 30. But again, there are thousands of colleges that will take students that have scores below a 30.
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