What You Need to Know About the ACT

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Photo Credit: Sam Koutnik

Sam Koutnik, Opinion Editor

Junior year is a stressful time full of hard work and dedication. Throughout the year, students need to keep a strong GPA and take a standardized test called the ACT. In case you have never heard of this test, the ACT is a standardized test whose score you to send to colleges. This score is then factored into your admissions decision and scholarship consideration. The ACT is on a 36 point scale and tests your knowledge on four subjects: English, Math, Reading, and Science. There is also the option to take a writing test, which most colleges require.

The English test consists of 75 question multiple choice questions and is limited to 45 minutes. The second test, which is the math portion, is 60 minutes for 60 multiple choice questions. After that you get a 10 to 15 minute break. The third section is reading, 35 minutes for a 40 multiple choice questions. The final section is 35 minutes for 40 multiple choice questions on science.

This year ACT has redesigned their writing format. Students now have the option to take an additional writing portion. The writing portion is 40 minutes long. Each student is given a prompt and three different opinions responding to the prompt. The student then needs to state their opinion in an essay, responding to the question and the opinions. There is no requirement on essay length or structure. The length depends on how long it takes demonstrate and support your argument and refute counterarguments. However, most students like to organize their essay in a five paragraph essay format.

The most important part of the ACT is the preparation, which can help improve scores considerably. Some people are naturally good standardized test takers, and others are not; however, there is no need to worry. In this case as in life, hard work pays off. If you put in the effort, work with a tutor, or take a prep class, there is definitely an opportunity to improve your score. Yet, some prep classes or tudors can be very pricey. If price is an issue, The Real ACT prep book is made by the makers of the ACT and contains all the information and prep you should need, and it only costs $12.38 at Barnes and Noble. 

A great aspect of the ACT is that you can take it as many times as you want, and the test is typically offered every other month. You also have the opportunity to take the exam at Regina. Taking the exam at Regina is a great advantage because you are in a classroom that you learn in almost everyday. This way you can feel comfortable, test in a familiar environment, and not stress about being in a different school. This opportunity is worth it. However, the registration fills up very quickly, so make sure you register right away.

Do not stress! If you do not score the way you want to the first time, you are able to take the test as many times as possible. Some schools even superscore your ACT score. This means that admissions departments “take different sections of either the SAT test or the ACT test and count the best individual sections from each test while reviewing a student’s college application, rather than just looking at one individual test date’s score,” according to a tutoring service. Super scoring allows you to take the test multiple times and not have the fear of your score going down because you can super score your best score from each subject. This way you have the opportunity to “super score” your score into a higher one.

The last thing to remember is that this test is not the end-all be-all of college admissions. Schools do not just look at your ACT score, they also look at your cumulative GPA. Another thing to understand is if you do not get the score you feel represents yourself as a student, you have recommendations from your teachers and counselor. They can give you a strong recommendation that truly represents you as a student.

Remember, you are more than just a score!