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The ACT and reasons to take it

Monday, January 23, 2012
If the SAT presents a challenge to you during the college preparation process, you may want to consider taking another standardized test instead, such as the ACT.

The ACT, which covers English, reading, mathematics and science, consists of 215 multiple-choice questions and takes about three and a half hours to complete, according to the organization’s Web site. Should you choose to take the optional ACT Plus Writing, you will add an additional 30 minutes to your total time.

There are several reasons why you may opt to take the ACT, which is accepted by all four-year colleges and universities. For instance, unlike the SAT, you are not penalized for guessing on the ACT. Your total score is based solely on the questions you answer correctly. Furthermore, every minute you spend in the classroom is preparing you to take this exam, as the ACT’s content is based on what you have learned in your high school courses. Consequently, knowing that your current course work is actually test prep for the ACT may provide further incentive for you to master different academic subjects.

When faced with the choice of either the SAT or the ACT, you should consider what type of assessment you feel more comfortable taking. The SAT measures students’ reasoning and verbal abilities in the areas of critical reasoning, mathematics and writing. However, if you have always been a strong science student, you may want to choose the ACT, as the test provides you with an additional opportunity to show your mastery of topics not represented on the SAT.

Michelle Slatalla wrote in The New York Times that many students who seek an edge in the college admissions process are taking both the SAT and the ACT and submitting the best or both scores to prospective schools. While you can certainly take both tests, it is important to remember that each test requires a registration fee.

Online practice tests are available to help you prepare for the ACT. If you plan on taking the ACT Plus Writing, you can prepare by familiarizing yourself with different styles of writing by reading examples of narrative, expository, or persuasive essays.

Upcoming ACT test dates for 2012 include February 11, April 14 and June 9. The registration deadline is generally one month prior to the test. You can register online at - helping you find colleges and universities that offer the accredited programs that most interest you.

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The ACT and reasons to take it
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