Posts Tagged ‘score choice’

The ACT: A Few Things You May Not Know About that Other College Entrance Exam…

Often when we think of college entrance exams, the first thing that comes to mind is the SAT, but in actuality, all four-year colleges and universities also accept the ACT.  So students have a degree of choice when it comes to which standardized test they choose to take—even if it means taking both (though you will more than likely have to focus your attention on one).  The Vocab Videos team would encourage you to take practice tests for both the SAT and ACT when you begin your test preparation.  If it’s your first time taking the test don’t worry so much about your score as getting a feel for format, content, and question types to see which test feels like a better fit.

Be sure to take practice tests to decide between the SAT and ACT

Below are a few things you may or may not already know about the ACT as well as how the test differs from the SAT in certain aspects:

  • The ACT consists of 4 “tests”: English, Math, Reading, Science Reasoning, Writing (optional)
  • You will get a score from 1 to 36 on each of the four main tests.
  • If you choose to take the Writing test, your score will be combined with your English score.
  • Score Choice: Unlike the SAT, you may choose which ACT scores you want to send to colleges. The College Board always sends all your SAT scores together. Even if a college says they’ll just look at the highest score you got, they see every score you have—you can’t hide a score. For the ACT, however, you must specify which scores you want to send to a college.
  • No Guess Penalty: The ACT does not take off points for wrong answers. You should always fill in an answer for every question. If you are about to run out of time and there are questions you haven’t gotten to yet, guess something. NEVER LEAVE ANY BLANKS FOR ANY REASON! You’ll pick up a couple of points for any correct guesses.
  • Essay is Optional: If you’re terrible at essays, you don’t have to do one (most likely). But be aware that some schools may in fact require the ACT essay. Make sure to check with each of the colleges to which you’re applying.
  • Timing: This is the biggest problem kids have with the ACT. Unlike the SAT, where each subject is broken up into three sections, on the ACT each subject has just one long section. This can be exhausting. The actual time per question you have is roughly similar to (and actually a bit higher than) that of the SAT, but it’s more of a drain on your attention span and endurance. Furthermore, since the SAT sections are split up, you can totally bomb one math section and still do well on the others to salvage your math score. On the ACT, one hard question can mess up your timing for the whole math test. So timed practice is very important.
    • English: 75 questions, 45 minutes
    • Math: 60 questions, 60 minutes
    • Reading: 40 questions, 35 minutes
    • Science: 40 questions, 35 minutes
    • Writing: 1 essay, 30 minutes
  • More math content: The ACT will contain some higher level concepts that aren’t on the SAT, most noticeably some basic trigonometry. Also, all those formulas the SAT gives you at the beginning of the section? On the ACT, you’ve got to know them by heart.
  • Fewer line references in passages On the SAT, virtually every Reading question gives you a specific line reference. Most ACT questions do not give you line references. The ACT questions themselves are often very straightforward, but you’ll have to spend more time searching for the answer than you would on the SAT.
  • Science: Obviously, the inclusion of the science section is the one of the biggest content differences between the SAT and the ACT. The science section generally doesn’t require actual science knowledge so much as an ability to interpret scientific data and graphs. If you’re bad at interpreting scientific data, you won’t enjoy this.
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