American College Testing (ACT) is a standardized test developed by the ACT Inc. for assessment of eligibility for post secondary education. The school education in United States is provided by diverse institutions like public schools, private schools, and home schools, which have significant differences in standards, curricula, and grading system. For that reason, the colleges, universities, and vocational schools consider ACT score as one of the admission criteria. The dependency on ACT score for admissions varies among the institutions. There are other factors as well, which are accounted like grade point average and extracurricular activities. Many of the undergraduate educational institutions take into account GPA over ACT score.
The ACT practice test is taken by high school juniors and seniors for admission in post secondary educational programs. It is normally taken by high school juniors when their 11th grade is about to be completed.
The test is based on education in middle and high schools. It comprises of four sections- English, reading, science and mathematics. There is also an optional essay writing test. The English section tests the usage and rhetorical skills in the language. The reading section consists of four passages belonging to fiction, humanities, social science, and natural science, one of each. The science section is focused on interpretation, evaluation, analysis, problem solving and reasoning of science subjects such as physics, chemistry, biology etc. High school mathematics including pre-algebra, elementary algebra, intermediate algebra, geometry, elementary trigonometry, and coordinate geometry base the mathematical section.
There are 75 questions of English, 40 of reading, 60 of mathematics and 40 of science, which are to be solved in 45 minutes, 35 minutes, 60 minutes, and 35 minutes respectively. The 75 questions of English are based upon 5 passages with underlined sentences, that are to be corrected by proper usage of punctuations, grammar, sentence structure, organization, strategy, and transition. There are 40 questions in reading section that are asked from four passages. The 14 questions of pre-algebra, 10 of elementary algebra, 9 of intermediate algebra, 4 of elementary trigonometry, 14 of plane trigonometry, and 9 of coordinate geometry sum up to 60 questions of mathematics. The passages of data representation, research summary, and conflicting viewpoint followed by five questions, six questions, and seven questions respectively form the science section. In the writing section, candidate has to compose an essay in 30 minutes time on any topic given at the spot.
There is no negative marking in the exam. It is evident that the exam emphasizes on solving greater number of (but simple) questions correctly in a limited time span. The four sections are scored in range from 1 to 36. These scores are added and averaged to a whole number for getting composite score. The essay is checked by two examiners who can award 1 to 6 points, totaling to a score in range from 2 to 12. The score of writing section does not affect the overall score except the score of English section. The score of English section can depreciate to a maximum of 2 points, for zero marks in writing section. In ACT, percentile is the percentage of both, test takers who scored lower than the score of the examinee as well as the same score holders.
ACT practice test is conducted 4 to 6 times in a year depending upon the state. It can be held on any Saturday of the months of September, October, December, February, April and June.
The registration fee of the exam is $34 excluding writing test and $49.50 including writing test. There are additional charges for 5th and 6th college choices, telephone re-registration, late registration, change of test date or center etc.
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SAT is another standardized test taken by the high school graduates for admission in colleges. The students take ACT, SAT, or both depending upon their career preferences and colleges in which they are desired to get enrolled.