The ACT is a college entrance exam that evaluates a student's readiness for college. Through the ACT exam process college admissions boards can judge a student's current level of knowledge, as well as their ability to reason and think logically. The ACT is one of the most important exams in a students educational career, and is a part of most colleges and universities admission requirements. It is also one of the most challenging and can make, or break, a student's chances of getting into a top school.
What is the ACT?
The ACT is an achievement test that determines a student's current level of knowledge. Students are tested on a variety of subjects, including Mathematics, Science, and English. The test is designed to gauge a student's understanding of these topics, and their ability to apply their knowledge and reasoning skills to a standardized set of questions. It heavily shapes a student's eligibility to enter college and obtain certain scholarships.
The highest achievable score on the ACT is 36. A students score is determined by awarding points for all questions answered correctly. No points are deducted for wrong answers. Each section of the ACT is graded separately, and these scores are averaged to create a composite score for the entire exam. This is your final score, and it is this score that provides college admissions boards with a standard measure of a student's skills in the various areas that have been tested.
This test will determine your child's future.
Taking the ACT can be a valuable experience for students planning to continue on to college. While the thought of one more exam may seem frustrating at first, the value of the ACT should not be dismissed. With a solid ACT score and a good high school academic history you can face the college admissions boards secure in the knowledge that you are a good fit for their institution. Most students will take the exam 3-4 times: most universities do not super-score your exams, so you are welcome to send the highest of the scores.
It is important to seek early preparation for the ACT as the exam weighs heavily on a child's academic portfolio. Some schools weigh the ACT as 35% of a student's portfolio when applying for college while others can weigh the exam up to 78%, depending on the program.
Parents and educators alike are encouraged to begin prepping their students as soon as possible, and a private tutor is usually the best approach. Most tutoring and preparation for the ACT ranges between $60-$120 per 1 hour session, based on student needs. The most challenging for students are the English, Reading, and Science sections as pacing and time are a challenge for many students.
While we'd like to encourage students to have a well-rounded background for college, the reality is that the ACT will determine a great deal of your student's success in college and the experience truly begins now. Don't wait until it's too late to invest in your child.
Emma is an administrator and former educator of 20 years in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. She received her master's of education from Northwestern University and has worked with the ACT Board to develop programs benefiting students everywhere. She currently dedicates herself to working with high school students to develop their college-ready skills and preparedness. She lives in Palatine, IL with her husband and dog, Andy.