ACT Preparation Overview
- 1 ACT Preparation Overview
- 1.1 What topics will be covered on the ACT?
- 1.2 What tools are available to help me prepare for the ACT?
- 1.3 Are there any other tips available to help me prepare for the ACT?
- 1.4 What do I have to do to prepare for the ACT if I have a disability?
- 1.5 Where can I schedule a location and time to take the ACT?
The ACT, America’s most commonly accepted college entrance exam, evaluates the educational development of high school students as well as their readiness for college academics. Assessing English, mathematic, reading, and science skills (with an optional writing test, as well), it is a sister test to the well-known SAT, another assessment required by many high schools and colleges.
Though the biggest preparation for the ACT is high school itself and the knowledge and skills acquired there, many students also choose to prepare in other ways for the assessment. Why is it so important to students that they be prepared for the test? It is usually because the score earned on the ACT not only determines if and what colleges a student will be accepted into, it can also greatly affect the amount of scholarships that are given by the institution of higher learning to the prospective student.
Some of the tools available for help with the test preparation are online courses, CD-ROMs that can be purchased, and many practice tests. There are also extra tips available to help with the test-taking, as well as special circumstances that are available for those with disabilities who are preparing for the ACT. Finally, it is important that you remember to schedule your time to take the ACT far enough in advance that there are still available openings.
What topics will be covered on the ACT?
Since there are several college-entry tests available throughout the United States, a common question asked by students and their families is “What’s going to be on the test?” The ACT has four required sections: English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science. The highest score available for each of these examinations is a 36, and the average of the four is the final score given.
The ACT also offers an optional Writing Test, which takes an additional 30 minutes. The Writing Test is designed to complement the English test by measuring the student’s skill in preparing for and writing a short essay in the given amount of time.
What tools are available to help me prepare for the ACT?
When looking for study helps and tools for ACT preparation, many people look to the computer as a convenient option. And they are not disappointed. For studying on one’s own at home, there are CD-ROMS able to be purchased. They cover typical information that should have been acquired in high school and help students practice recalling this information.
There are also online courses available at the ACT centers; this is a little more involved and will help students who perhaps do not study on their own time as well.
Finally, if the concern for preparation is not learning or remembering the information that will be covered but rather finding out what the questions will be like and practicing working under the time limits, there are many websites that offer free testing. All of these are excellent online preparation tools for those getting ready to take the ACT.
For those who cannot or do not wish to use the computer for their ACT preparation, there are also books available which help with the information as well as practice tests. These books come with the answers listed in the back, so that the practice test can be checked. In addition to these tools mentioned, other preparation techniques can be located at www.ACT.org, a website devoted to the preparation for and the taking of the ACT.
Are there any other tips available to help me prepare for the ACT?
Aside from studying of the information, there are a great many tips that can help you do well on the test. Practicing some of these techniques will not necessarily help you know more than you already do; but it will help you perform your best on the exam.
· Think of the ACT as a game. Just as in any other competitive game, you should know the rules and employ strategy. Approaching it in this way will help you relax and not allow stress to destroy your thinking skills.
· Manage your time wisely. The best way to practice using your time effectively is to take practice tests and to simulate the real situation, meaning no talking, music, or breaks.
· Realize that the difficulty rises. The last few questions on each section will be more difficult and require more skill than the first ones. So, if time is running out and you’re having trouble with the last couple questions, recognize that it may be better to go back and check your other answers.
· Don’t waste time. This seems so obvious, but many people regret after the test the time that they wasted re-reading directions, coming back from their breaks late, or daydreaming. Be aware of this; you only have to focus for a few hours, and then you’re done!
· Read the questions carefully. Don’t allow the stress of a ticking clock to make you skip parts of what you’re reading. If you misinterpret the question, your rushing did you no good.
· Answer all the questions. Although the SAT is designed to subtract points for wrong answers, the ACT does not. You can only help yourself by possibly getting the answer right. However, it is most advantageous for you to at least try and rule out an obviously wrong answer rather than just guessing “A,” “H,” “C.”
· Identify deception. With practice, you’ll start noting how the test writers attempt to give deliberately deceptive answer choices. Practice recognizing these and ruling them out.
· Retake the test. If you are not satisfied with your first score because it doesn’t seem to adequately represent your ability, feel free to take it again. Usually, schools will accept the highest score.
What do I have to do to prepare for the ACT if I have a disability?
If you have a disability which will affect the way you take the ACT, there may be more that you need to do to prepare for the test than just studying. You may also need to take a little time to request accommodations for your disability.
The ACT has made clear its commitment to providing reasonable service for those who need it; however, there are documentation and official requests needed.
If your current school makes accommodations for you due to a professional diagnosed disability, you can provide documentation of it as a request for things like extended time, a date change, etc. The basic fees that you have to pay will be the same, and the information that you have provided will be kept confidential.
One thing that is not considered a disability is a lowered English proficiency. The ACT and the extra writing test are only available in the English language.
Where can I schedule a location and time to take the ACT?
An important part of ACT preparation is scheduling a date and time to take the test. Usually, the testing sites fill up pretty quickly, so make sure that you have made arrangements at least a month (further ahead in some places) in advance.
In order to find a location and time that you will be able to attend, you can get on www.ACT.org and click on your particular state. It will then give a list of possible locations at which you can take the test. Or, another option is to work through your local school system. They will have contact numbers that they can provide you with. Usually, public libraries also have the information for the area testing and would be able to help you with this important step in ACT preparation.