1. Education

ACT Overview

By

What Is the ACT?:

The ACT is a nationally recognized college admission test that colleges use in combination with student grade reports and other items to help determine whether they will be accepted to their school. Similar to the SAT, this test is seen as a way to more fairly compare students. Students take the test and then can choose to submit their scores to the colleges of their choice.

Who Creates the ACT?:

According to the ACT, Inc. website, the precursor to the ACT was first created in 1959 by University of Iowa education professor E.F. Lindquist who wanted to focus on practical knowledge. Over time this evolved into the test that we have today. The test is developed based on curriculum frameworks, textbooks, and educators for all the states of the union. They are reviewed by a curricular panel who make changes as necessary. Then the questions are put through detailed statistical analysis concerning both the level of difficulty and the minimum allowed discrimination between sections and subsections of individual tests.

When is the Test Given?:

The ACT is administered six times each year between September and June. The deadline for registration is typically three weeks before the test date. Students typically take the test during the Spring of their Junior year and possibly a second time during the fall of the Senior year. Although you are allowed to take the test twelve times, most people only take it once or twice. Find out more information about ACT test dates.

What Does the ACT Consist of?:

There are two forms of the ACT: ACT and ACT (Plus Writing). Both forms contain four multiple choice sections: English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science. ACT Plus has the students complete a thirty minute writing test based on one prompt. The English portion consists of 75 questions with a time limit of 45 minutes. It covers mechanics and rhetorical skills. The Mathematics part of the test includes 60 questions to be answered in 60 minutes. Questions cover information that has been taught through the beginning of twelfth grade. The Reading section has the student read several passages and answer 40 questions in 35 minutes. The Science portion asks students 40 questions in 35 minutes based on interpretation, analysis, evaluation, reasoning, and problem solving.

How is the Test Scored?:

The overall ACT score range along with the score range for each individual subtest is from 1 to 36. The first step in coming up with the score is to add up the number of correct answers. Unlike the SAT, the ACT does not penalize for guesses. The raw scores are converted to the 'scale scores' between 1 and 36. These are correlated so that no matter which form of the test is taken, the forms can be compared. The English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science subscores are averaged and rounded to the nearest whole number to get the composite score. If the fraction is less than 1/2 it is rounded down, otherwise it rounded up.

In addition there are seven subscores within the other subject tests including usage/mechanics, rhetorical skills, etc. These scores range from 1 to 18. It is important to note that these subscores do not add up to the subject scores. Instead, they are correlated to fit on the 18 point scale. We compute your seven subscores (Usage/Mechanics, Rhetorical Skills, etc.) in the same way, but subscores range from 1 (low) to 18 (high). There is no direct, arithmetic relationship between your subscores and your test scores—this means your subscores don't add up to your test score.

What is a good ACT Score?

Where Can I Learn More?:

The information found here was based on information from the ACT website. You can learn more about the ACT, testing dates, scoring, and more at their website: ACTStudent.org.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.