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Overview of the ACT

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Video transcript

- This is Sean Logan. Let's talk a little bit about the ACT in testing. The ACT is a standardized test that many schools will require as part of the admissions process. Based on my work as a college admission officer, schools really have no preference for the tests you take. Let's spend a little time talking about the ACT. The purpose of taking a standardized test is really to allow colleges to use a benchmark for students against other students from across the US and internationally. An A in an English class in one school could mean something totally different than an A in an English class in another school. So it is one way that schools can look at a national exam. Currently for the ACT, there are four sections to it. There's an English section, there's a Reading section, there's a Math section, and there's a Science section. There is one optional Essay section that students can choose to do. The format for the test really includes multiple choice questions. In the English section, you've got 75 questions in about a 45 minute time period. In the Reading section, you've got another 40 questions and that's in a 35 minute time period. In the Math section, you've got 60 questions in 60 minutes. In the Science section, you've got 40 questions and that's in about 35 minutes. The cost of the test is about $52.50. If you take it without the writing section, it's a little bit less expensive. It's $36.50. The cost of the test should never be a barrier. If you feel like you need help paying for the cost of the test, please see your college counselor, or your guidance counselor. There are fee waivers available, which means you can take this test for free. Your college, or hopefully, your college or guidance counselor can help you get the appropriate fee waivers to do that. Timing for taking the ACT. Most students should be planning out when to take their testing. I would recommend thinking about taking the ACT probably in the winter or spring of your junior year. Then, probably taking it twice. Most students do better when they take it a second time, so either taking late in the spring of your junior year, for a second time, or using the fall of your senior year. So the scoring, each of the four sections has a score ranging between a one and 36. These scores are averaged together to get your Composite Score, which is also between a one and a 36. So let's take a look at this score report. For each of the sections, they can see how they did at a high level. The overall section scores are out of 36. There's a perfect score in reading of 36, and the lowest of the four sections is in Science, which is a 28. Other sections have sub-scores which lets you see if there was one area that was stronger than another. In the English area for instance, the student did slightly better on the Usage and Mechanics questions than compared to the Rhetorical Skills questions. This information allows the student to target and study what they need to do better on, or what they need to retake. The Composite score is an average of the English, the Math, the Reading, and the Science scores. If you use this example, let's do the Math. You take a 32, a 35, a 36, and a 28, and you add that up, you get 131. You divide it by four, and this person's score is a 32.75, which rounds up to a 33. So their Composite is a 33. The 33 puts them at the 99th percentile, which basically means they have scored higher than 99 percent of the people who have taken the test. Obviously this is a really good score on the ACT.