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ACT prep tips

Kajal Patel, Editor of Bottomline

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It’s that time of year again when juniors in highschool start stressing out about the ACT. Some students view the ACT as just another standardized test they have to take in order to get into college, and do not take it seriously. Other students think of it as the make it or break it point for their perfect college application and spend endless hours trying to get the perfect score of a 36. But not all students know exactly what the ACT is, what it measures and how it can affect students’ futures or what the best way to prepare for it is.

The ACT claims that their test measures “college readiness,” but what exactly does that mean? The ACT is a test that measures students ability to work in college level classes, a student’s educational development, and a student’s organizational skills through its five parts. Basically, this means that the ACT tests measures a student’s learning and comprehensive skills. The test is made up of five parts. There are four multiple choice sections: mathematics, english, reading, and science reasoning. The fifth part is an optional writing portion. These five components together measure how well a student’s reasoning, thinking,comprehensive, and organizational skills are. The test is also timed, 45 minutes for the english section, 60 minutes for the mathematics section,  35 minutes each for the reading and science reasoning sections and 40 minutes for the writing portion, for a grand total of 3 hours and 35 minutes. The ACT score is a composite score of all four of the multiple choice sections. Since the writing portion is optional, it is not calculated into the composite score.

The ACT can have various effects on a student’s college application, depending on what schools they have applied too. Small and liberal art schools generally tend to weigh heavily on personal statements, recommendations, and extracurricular activities more than GPA and test scores. Big schools tend to give more importance to GPA and test scores and not so much importance to essays and activities. But test scores do not play as a big role in college admittance as GPA does. Test scores really help colleges recognize students who could strive at their school but do not determine if a student is admitted.

Most students do not know the right way to study for the ACT. The best and most effective way to study for the ACT is to take practice tests and figure what sections are causing the most trouble. Tackle the sections that are bringing down the overall composite score and work hard on those sections. Taking practice test over and over again can help students become familiar with the test and the test questions. The ACT tends to ask the same type of questions with varying word choice and content. Getting familiar with test questions can help students recognize the right answer format and help them get better scores.

Knowing the ACT and understanding how it works can help students get better scores. Recognizing how the test functions can also help students improve their scores as they know how the test was  made.If they know the test inside and out, they will have no problem achieving the score that they want.

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The student news site of Glenbard South High School in Glen Ellyn, Illinois
ACT prep tips