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Get Into College .... About the ACT Test

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The ACT is a nationally administered, standardized paper-and-pencil test that helps colleges evaluate candidates. Colleges now accept your ACT or SAT scores interchangeably. Thailand has recently opened an ACT testing center. This means that you have the opportunity to decide on which test you'll perform better.

Most colleges require students to take a standardized exam as part of the admissions process; either the ACT or the SAT. While there are many similarities, as a curriculum-based test, the ACT test is more straightforward than the SAT, and you can take the ACT several times and choose which score to submit.

The Princeton Review Difference

What's In It For You

You'll learn from completely updated materials that reflect everything you need to know to succeed on the ACT:

  • Personal attention with an average of 8-10 students per class (and no less than 15 students per class)
  • Talented, dynamic instructors vetted through the most rigorous training in the industry
  • Exclusive, proven Princeton Review methods and strategies
  • Access to full-length practice ACTs, with 4 available under proctored conditions
  • Princeton Review ACT Student Manual
  • Getting into the ACT
  • Extra lessons and drills available online 24/7
  • Access to our Online Student Center

How We Teach ACT Courses

We explain concepts tested on the exams and teach proven test-taking techniques. All lessons are focused on beating the ACT.

We Back It Up

We spend millions of dollars studying the ACT, developing ACT materials and training teachers to teach the test. We know what we're doing. Some would even say we're "ACT Nerds," although we prefer the term "ACT Experts."

What's On The ACT

The ACT has 4 tests: English, Reading , Math and Science, as well as, an optional 30 minute essay. Some schools may require the essay, so be sure to ask before you take the test. 

For more specific information on the importance of ACT scores at the schools to which you are applying, contact the admissions offices at those schools.

The ACT lasts 2 hours and 55 minutes (excluding the optional Writing Test) or 3 hours and 25 minutes with the Writing Test. The order of test sections and the total number of questions covered in each test section never changes:

Section

Length

Question Types

English

45 Minutes

40 Usage/Mechanics Questions
35 Rhetorical Skills Questions

Mathematics

60 Minutes

14 Arithmetic Questions
10 Elementary Algebra Questions
9 Intermediate Algebra Questions
9 Coordinate Geometry Questions
14 Plane Geometry Questions
4 Trigonometry Questions

Reading

35 Minutes

10 Social Studies Questions
10 Natural Sciences Questions
10 Prose Fiction Questions
10 Humanities Questions

Science

35 Minutes

15 Data Representation Questions
18 Research Summary Questions
7 Conflicting Viewpoint Questions

Writing Test

30 Minutes

You write in response to a question about your position on an issue


English Test Description

The English test is a 75-question, 45-minute test, covering:

Usage/Mechanics
  • punctuation
  • grammar and usage
  • sentence structure
Rhetorical Skills
  • strategy
  • organization
  • style

Spelling, vocabulary, and rote recall of rules of grammar aren't tested.

The test consists of five prose passages, each one accompanied by multiple-choice test questions. Different passage types are included to provide variety.

Some questions refer to underlined portions of the passage and offer several alternatives to the underlined portion. You must decide which choice is most appropriate in the context of the passage.

Some questions ask about an underlined portion, a section of the passage, or the passage as a whole. You must decide which choice best answers the question posed.

Many questions include "NO CHANGE" to the underlined portion or the passage as one of the choices.

The questions are numbered consecutively. Each question number corresponds to an underlined portion in the passage or to a box located in the passage.

Mathematics Test Description

The ACT Mathematics Test is a 60-question, 60-minute test designed to measure the mathematical skills students have typically acquired in courses taken by the end of 11th grade.

The test presents multiple-choice questions that require you to use reasoning skills to solve practical problems in mathematics.

You need knowledge of basic formulas and computational skills to answer the problems, but you aren't required to know complex formulas and perform extensive computation.

may use a calculator on the Mathematics Test. If you use a prohibited calculator, you will be dismissed and your answer document will not be scored. You are not required to use a calculator. All the problems can be solved without a calculator.

Reading Test Description

The Reading Test is a 40-question, 35-minute test that measures your reading comprehension. You're asked to read four passages and answer questions that show your understanding of:

  • what is directly stated
  • statements with implied meanings

Specifically, questions will ask you to use referring and reasoning skills to:

  • determine main ideas
  • locate and interpret significant details
  • understand sequences of events
  • make comparisons
  • comprehend cause-effect relationships
  • determine the meaning of context-dependent words, phrases, and statements
  • draw generalizations
  • analyze the author's or narrator's voice and method

The test comprises four prose passages that are representative of the level and kind of reading required in first-year college courses; passages on topics in social studies, natural sciences, prose fiction, and the humanities are included.

Science Test Description

The Science Test is a 40-question, 35-minute test that measures the skills required in the natural sciences: interpretation, analysis, evaluation, reasoning, and problem solving.

You are not permitted to use a calculator on the Science Test.

The test assumes that students are in the process of taking the core science course of study (three years or more) that will prepare them for college-level work and have completed a course in Earth science and/or physical science and a course in biology.

The test presents seven sets of scientific information, each followed by a number of multiple-choice test questions. The scientific information is presented in one of three different formats:

  • data representation (graphs, tables, and other schematic forms)
  • research summaries (descriptions of one or more related experiments)
  • conflicting viewpoints (expressions of several related hypotheses or views that are inconsistent with one another)

The questions require you to:

  • recognize and understand the basic features of, and concepts related to, the provided information
  • examine critically the relationship between the information provided and the conclusions drawn or hypotheses developed
  • generalize from given information and draw conclusions, gain new information, or make predictions

How to register

All students testing outside the United States , U.S. territories, Puerto Rico, or Canada must register on the Web. There are no international registration packets.

Basic registration fee (per test option)

ACT (No Writing)

$32.00

Includes reports for you, your high school (if you authorize reporting), and up to four college choices (if valid codes are provided when you register).

ACT Plus Writing

$47.00

Includes reports for you, your high school (if you authorize reporting), and up to four college choices (if valid codes are provided when you register). The $15.00 Writing Test fee is refundable, on written request if you are absent on test day or switch to the ACT (No Writing) before you begin testing.

When to Take The ACT

Students have traditionally taken the ACT in the spring of their junior year and, if necessary, again in the fall of their senior year. However, more and more students are choosing to take their first ACT earlier, such as during the fall of their junior year. This gives them more flexibility to retake the ACT test one or more times, or to take the SAT or SAT Subject Tests.

Registration deadlines for each year will be announced in March


ACT Myth Buster and FAQ

Standardized tests have nothing to do with real education.

If you subscribe to this myth, you risk losing a valuable educational opportunity. What academic skills are covered by the standardized tests?

• The ACT and SAT each have a timed essay. Students score well if they know how to develop a thesis, structure information, and apply some basic rhetorical strategies to persuade an audience. This form of timed essay writing will be assessed throughout college, so students should master it early on.

• The ACT and SAT each have grammar sections. In a world where instant-messaging and text-messaging dominate communication, students only benefit from learning how to write coherent sentences and use the Queen's English. Proper grammar matters: students will be judged by their command of language throughout their lives. There's good reason to take this test component seriously and raise scores while developing critical communication skills.

• The ACT and SAT each have reading sections. How many students know their word-per-minute reading speed? Few do. A thorough reading assessment and course of training not only raises test scores but also enhances reading efficiency. Addressing bad habits and developing good ones can save hours of homework time.

• The ACT and SAT each have math sections. If a student displays math deficits on the test, these deficits are likely mirrored in his/her high school math class. In preparing wisely, a student can enhance vital math skills both on the test and in the classroom.

"My children go to an excellent school, so their school's curriculum must be preparing them thoroughly for the ACT."

The very best schools' curricula often do not correlate perfectly to standardized test content. Some material on the standardized tests was either taught several years prior to the test's administration or never taught at all in a systematic way. Students are struck at how concepts they learned in 8 th grade reappear suddenly on a test they take in 11 th grade. Parents and students are even more surprised to see that certain reasoning concepts such as non sequiturs or grammar concepts such as misplaced modifiers and coordinating conjunctions are often never dealt with directly in their school's curriculum. Therefore, a review of and supplement to the child's high school work are necessary in most cases.

"When in doubt, pick C!" and other pieces of bad advice.

Taking a trivial approach to testing gets you a trivial result -- in terms of both score improvement and educational impact. Here are some specific and all too common bits of erroneous advice:

• Crimes Against Composition : "It doesn't matter what you write your essay about. It just matters that it sounds good and that you fill your test book."

There's nothing worse than telling a young writer to divorce style from substance. The graders of standardized test essays are predominantly seasoned educators; as a result, the students who score the highest scores write on real academic topics (e.g., history, literature, etc.) and use an appropriate, academic tone and style.

• Grammar Gaffes : "If it sounds right, it is right."

In this day and age of instant messaging and text messaging, students often rely on, let's say, relaxed standards of English grammar. What sounds right to the ear may in fact be wrong grammatically. For example, most students would agree that "If I was him" sounds better than "If I were he," but the former is wrong and the latter is correct.

I heard someone say that the ACT was better for girls and the SAT was better for boys.

Um, no. In fact, data supports that in general, men score higher on both tests than women. Now, what the statistic means is subject to all sorts of other problems, but here is the evidence for your

How does one avoid getting caught up in these myths?

1. Have your student take a full-length, timed practice SAT or ACT

2. Assess the gaps in the student's performance with responsible educators

3. Spot-treat those gaps and complete the student's knowledge of vital curricula

ACT FAQ

What if I've lost or do not have my admission ticket?

Important: Bring your admission ticket to the test center on test day. It contains Matching Information that must be copied exactly onto your answer document or your scores will be delayed.

If you registered online:

You MUST print your admission ticket from your ACT student Web account when prompted, after your registration is confirmed. You will NOT receive a ticket in the mail.

Note: Students registering to test at international test centers MUST print their admission tickets and bring them to the test center on test day.

If you lose or misplace your admission ticket, just log back in to your student Web account and print another one before test day.

Why do I need to bring my admission ticket?

Although your admission ticket alone is not sufficient identification for you to be admitted to test, it is still extremely important for you to bring it with you to the test center on test day.

Your supervisor will ask you to complete required basic identifying information on the front page of your answer document. On the left side of your admission ticket is a box called Matching Information. Your supervisor will instruct you to copy this information exactly as it appears, even if incorrect, into the corresponding blocks on your answer document.

If you do not copy the Matching Information from your admission ticket exactly, your scores will be delayed and your score reports may not reach the colleges you selected in time to meet their application deadlines.

Your admission ticket also tells you where and when to report on test day. Remember that you will not be admitted to test if you are not at the test center by 8:00 a.m. It may also include messages specific to your test center, such as what to wear, where to park, which building or entrance to use on test day, etc.

What should I take to the test center?

Be sure you take these items to the test center:

  • Your test center admission ticket.
  • Acceptable identification. You will not be admitted to test without it. (Your admission ticket alone is not sufficient identification.)
  • Sharpened soft lead No. 2 pencils with good erasers (no mechanical pencils or ink pens). Do not bring highlight pens or any other kinds of writing instruments; you will not be allowed to use them. If you registered for the ACT Plus Writing, your essay must also be completed in pencil.
  • A watch to pace yourself. The supervisor in standard time rooms will announce when five minutes remain on each test.
  • A permitted calculator, if you wish to use one on the Mathematics Test. Not all calculator models are permitted. If you use a prohibited calculator, such as the TI-89, you will be dismissed and your answer document will not be scored.

Pack the night before and make sure everything is ready to go, especially your calculator, if you plan to use one. You don't want to forget anything or risk not being admitted to test.

Do not bring any of the following:

  • food or drink (including water)
  • books, dictionaries, notes, scratch paper, or other aids
  • highlight pens, colored pens or pencils, or correction fluid/tape
  • any electronic device other than a permitted calculator (examples include timer, cell phone, media player, PDA, headphones, camera)
  • reading material
  • tobacco in any form
Can I Cancel My Scores?

No. However, you may retake the ACT test as many times as you wish, and your scores from each test date are reported separately. Therefore, when you have your ACT scores sent to colleges, you can elect to send only the scores from your most successful test date(s).

How Important Are ACT Scores?

The weight placed on ACT scores varies from school to school. Other important factors that schools consider in their admissions decisions are your high school GPA, academic transcript, letters of recommendation, interviews, and personal essays. In addition, virtually all U.S. colleges and universities will accept SAT scores in lieu of ACT scores.

For more specific information on the importance of ACT scores at the schools to which you are applying, contact the admissions offices at those schools.

 
 
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