ACT (American College Testing) is a test that measures your potential to gain admission to college. But, how helpful is the ACT in getting admission into a college of your choice? Find out, in this EduZenith article.
Many would consider ACT similar to the SAT Reasoning Test, and in fact, the ACT was introduced as a competitor of the SAT. Both are standardized aptitude tests that are conducted throughout the US. The ACT, that gauges your ability in four core subjects namely, English, Reading, Mathematics and Science. A lot of colleges require you to have a good ACT score in order to gain admission into the college. In some cases, a good ACT score is required along with a good SAT score.
The Purpose of an ACT Test
The main purpose of an ACT is to assess your readiness to enter college. However, in some states, the ACT is used as a means to assess the general performance of a school where all students in high school are required to take this test, even if they do not wish to go to college. As mentioned earlier, a student is tested on four subjects to take the test. You can also opt for an additional section called the optional writing test. You will be scored anywhere between 1 to 36 in each of the sections, the former being the lowest, and the latter being the highest. On the writing test, you will be scored between 1 and 12. The final score is not a total of individual subject scores, but what is known as a composite score, that is an average of individual scores. This figure will also range between 1 to 36. Each section is also given sub-scores and you are given a total of 7 sub-scores, that range between 1 to 18. However, this has no relation with your final score, as they don’t add up to the final score. The details regarding each of the subjects have been provided here.
- English: This section has 75 questions and you are allotted 45 minutes to complete it. 40 questions are based on the usage of the English language, while 35 questions are based on rhetorical skills. For college, you should get at least 18 points in this section.
- Mathematics: This section has 60 questions and you are allotted 60 minutes to complete it. 24 questions are based on elementary Algebra, 18 questions on Intermediate Algebra or Coordinate Geometry, and 18 questions on Trigonometry or Plane Geometry. For college, you should get at least 22 points in this section.
- Reading: This section has 40 questions and you are allotted 35 minutes to complete it. 20 questions are based on Social Studies and Natural Sciences, and the remaining 20 are based on prose fiction, i.e., reading skills in Arts and Literature. For college, you should get at least 21 points in this section.
- Science: This section has 40 questions and you are allotted 35 minutes to complete it. There are no sub-scores in this section, and the test score is based on all the questions you answer. For college, you should get at least 24 points in this section.
Unlike the SAT, you are not given negative marking for wrong answers, neither are any marks deducted for unattempted questions.
The highest ACT score is 36, and has been achieved by only one student so far. Some colleges not only assess your total test score, but also the individual scores. The required score will vary among different colleges. What you must know is that for admissions into a general college, an average ACT score is essential, but if you want to get into a good college or some of the top universities, the higher your score, the easier will be your entry into the college. In most cases, 27 is considered as a very good score, but is also difficult to attain. Moreover, your ACT score alone, is never considered as your ticket to college. The following is also considered:
- Primarily a good ACT score is determined in comparison with the performance of other students who took the test. A national rank is provided with individual scores, that enables a comparison with others who have taken the test, and shows you where you stand in the broader scheme of things. This rank plays a very important role. For instance, even if you have got 27 on your ACT, but your national rank is 60, it means 60% students have been able to score similar or lower than you. On the other hand, 40% students have scored higher than you.
- As mentioned earlier, performance in individual subjects is also assessed by colleges, to check for your strength or weakness in a particular field. This also helps them decide whether you are qualified for the majors you have applied for.
- Along with your ACT score, the college also checks your high school records and the record of your extracurricular activities.
- In some cases SAT scores are also checked along with ACT scores for the purpose of admission.
- All these factors together are combined, in order to determine your entry into college. These scores will enable colleges to decide whether you are suitable for entry-level or advanced levels of the different courses available.
Based on your ACT scores, you may also be considered for financial aid or scholarships. However, here again, your performance in high school and your personal background will also be checked. The ACT may be taken as many times as you want, and is conducted almost 4 – 6 times through the year. With all this information you will be able to decide how hard you need to work in order to get a good score, and an admission into a college of your choice.