ACT/ SAT Testing
ACT Essay Test
ACT Test - According to ACT Success, Inc.: The ACT test is designed to measure student achievement, not IQ, in the following subject areas: English, math, reading, science, and writing. The ACT assesses students' educational development and ability to complete college level work and much like the SAT, the ACT also measures how good a student is at taking standardized tests.
Test Structure The ACT will have four subject areas and or sections for the students to complete testing in for a point based score. There will also be an optional writing section for each student to take. The total testing time will be two hours and fifty-five minutes without completing the essay and will be three hours and twenty-five minutes with the completion of writing section and/ essay.
EnglishLength: One 45 minute section
Content: Punctuation, grammar and usage, sentence structure, and organization
Questions: 75 multiple choice
ReadingLength: One 35 minute section
Content: Reading comprehension and understanding of words, phrases, and statements
Questions: 40 multiple
MathLength: One 60 minute section
Content: Pre-algebra, Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, and Trigonometry
Questions: 60 multiple choice
ScienceLength: One 35 minute section
Content: Data representations, research summaries, and conflicting viewpoints
Questions: 40 multiple choice
Writing (Optional)Length: One 30 minute essay
Content: Grammar usage, word choice and organization, and clear expression of ideas
Questions: One persuasive essay
More ACT information is available on their website: www.actstudent.org
SAT TestAccording to SAT Success, Inc.: The SAT test requires the student to activate prior knowledge from well before high school as well as current skills and strategies. The SAT test assesses the student's educational development and ability to complete college level work and much like the ACT, the SAT also measures how good a student is at taking standardized tests.
Test StructureThe SAT will have four subject areas or sections to complete testing in for a point-based score. There will also be an optional essay section that will be in addition to the Writing and Language section. The total testing time allotted is three hours and three hours and 50 minutes with the optional essay.
ReadingLength: 65 minutes
Content: Evidence-based reading including citing specific support for answers.
Writing and LanguageLength: 35 minutes
Content: Demonstrate the ability to interpret, synthesize and use evidence found in a wide range of sources.
Math Without CalculatorLength: 25 minutes
Content: Three essential areas (Problem Solving and Data Analysis, Algebra and Advanced Math)
Math With CalculatorLength: 55 minutes
Content: Same three essential areas are covered here as are covered in the no calculator section, but here students are expected to explore and deepen their understanding of concepts.
Essay (Optional)Length: 50 minutes
Content: Students will use their reading, analysis and writing skills to produce a written analysis of a provided source text.
More information is available on their website collegeboard.org
Testing TipsTaking the SAT/ACT test can be a little overwhelming. Check out our test tips before you take the test to relieve some anxiety.
Explore your preparation options
There are many resources to choose from... text books, computer software, tutoring, and classes are all available to help you feel confident as you prepare to take the ACT test.
Try to get some practice well in advance of the real test
Taking a practice test under simulated test-taking conditions will allow you to learn about your strengths and areas in need of improvement.
Take it easy the night before
If you don't already know the information, you're not going to "cram" it in at the last moment.
Give yourself plenty of time the morning of the test
If you've been running around trying to find your keys while drinking a cup of coffee, only to realize none of your pencils have been sharpened, you won't be in the right mindset.
Don't forget your ID and admissions ticket
You may be able to find a pencil at the testing site, but you don't want to have to go home for your ID and/or ticket.
Eat well and often
A light breakfast and then a snack or two during the breaks in the test should give you enough energy to keep going the whole day.
Eliminate bad answers
If you're having trouble with a question, get rid of the answers that are just not possible. Narrow it down from there.
Don't spend too much time on any one question
Focus on your strengths and use your time wisely.
Review your answers for any careless mistakes, but ONLY if you have time at the end of the test.
Colleges look at your highest scores in each section, so don't worry if you don't think you did your best on one particular test. And remember, colleges look at other factors too.
Reading StrategiesIt can be difficult to stay engaged during the lengthy reading section of the ACT. Review these strategies before taking the test to stay focused all the way through.
Recognize the different types of questions:
Detail, Function, Tone/Attitude, Vocabulary-in-Context, Inference, Main Idea/Author's Purpose
Focus on what you already know:
It's okay to re-read a sentence once, but if you find yourself stumped, it's better to attack the question based on what you already know. Don't get bogged down by difficult vocabulary words or complex details within a passage.
Make Educated Guesses:
Identify and eliminate wrong answers, then make an educated guess from the remaining choices. On the ACT, there is no penalty for guessing, and on the SAT, there is a small point deduction for incorrect answers. This "penalty", however, is just an adjustment to offset random guessing. Educated guessing is an important part of improving your score.
Reconsider the Question:
Answer the question in your own words and thoughts before jumping to the answer choices. Often, you may be influenced by "attractors" if you don't stop to think before choosing an answer.
Whether you are reading for pleasure or for school, think and ask questions about what you are reading as you read it. This will train you to think critically during the reading process, and will prevent you from having to re-read, saving you valuable time.
Remember, reading tests are long, so you should pace yourself accordingly. Do not spend too much time on any one question. Be sure not to rush through the test either, because you are far more likely to make careless mistakes that way. Practice is the best way to help you develop a comfortable pace.
ACT EssayWhat does the ACT essay measure?
"The essay is evaluated on the evidence it gives of the student's ability to: express judgments by taking a position on the issue in the writing prompt; maintain a focus on the topic throughout the essay; develop a position by using logical reasoning and by supporting their ideas; organize ideas in a logical way; use language clearly and effectively according to the rules of standard written English." - actstudent.org
Essay Scoring The SAT and ACT both use the same approach to essay scoring. The essay is scored by two readers on a scale of 1-6, with 6 being the highest, for a combined sub-score between 2 and 12. An essay that does not address the essay question will receive a score of 0. The essay accounts for 1/3 of the entire writing section score.
5 Tips for writing a successful essay Take a firm position
The essay section asks you to take a position on a topic, so you should aim to argue your point articulately (even if you don't completely believe in it); you want your readers to respect the quality of your argument, even if they don't agree with it.
Begin with an outline
Taking a few minutes to organize your thoughts in an outline will make it much easier to write the essay.
Stay on topic
Don't try to impress your readers with ideas on other subjects. Once you've stated your position, use relevant examples to support that position.
Keep it simple
Avoid big "show off" words and writing about subjects you don't fully understand. Stick to the examples you know best.
Don't forget to write Choosing a position and writing an outline are important, but the bulk of the time allotted for this portion should be spent actually writing the essay.
College Admissions The ACT or standardized test is only one part of college admissions we have included some information on planning ahead, what colleges are looking for, financial aid and some additional resources to help you navigate through the college admission process.
What Colleges Are Looking For When all is said and done, colleges are all looking for the same thing: a student who will be successful at their school and contribute to the campus community. The following factors are what most admissions departments look at when deciding whether or not a student will be a "good match" for their school. Remember, the importance placed on each component of the application truly depends on the college itself.
- Academic record
- High school course load
- Difficulty of coursework
- Class rank
- Standardized test scores
- Application essay
- Extra-curricular activities
- Teacher and counselor recommendations
- Admissions interview
The majority of students attending college will qualify for some sort of financial aid. Listed below are some of the options available to help you finance your education.Loans
There are two types of loans to consider once the other options have been exhausted. PLUS loans are funds that parents can borrow to pay for their child's education and are either FFELP (provided by private lenders) or Direct (provided by the federal government). Parents may also consider Alternative Education Loans if they do not qualify for enough government funds or if they wish to defer payment until the student graduates, an option not available with PLUS. Private loans are offered by private lenders and there are no federal forms to complete. Eligibility for private student loans often depends on your credit score.Scholarships and Fellowships
Scholarships and fellowships are most frequently considered to be an option for students with exceptional abilities and qualifications in academics, athletics, or the arts. Awards are also available for students who show a particular interest and aptitude in specific fields of study, who are members of underrepresented groups, who live in certain areas of the country, or who demonstrate financial need. Repayment is not required.The Federal Government
The Department of Education is the largest contributor to students' educations. Depending on how great the financial need, students will either qualify for a loan or a grant. Loans must be paid back and can vary from those assessing interest (Stafford) to interest-free loans (Perkins). Unlike a loan, grants do not need to be repaid. To find out if you qualify, fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, also known as FAFSA, available at www.fafsa.ed.gov.