Even though a lot of focus is typically placed on the PSATs and the SATs, there is a standardized test called the American College Test, better known as the ACT, which is also an important and useful option.
The ACT will be administered to Juniors at Corona on April 6 because Tempe Union High School District has made the decision to give Juniors the ACT instead of another standardized test such as the AZMerit.
The ACT can be broken down into four multiple choice sections consisting of English, mathematics, reading and science which are accompanied by an optional writing portion. The optional writing portion does not affect a student’s overall score, but has the potential to boost their appearance to colleges. The main difference between the ACT and the SAT is that the ACT has an additional science section, whereas, the SAT is more focused on mathematics, English and reading.
Students are given three hours and 30 minutes including breaks to complete the 215 total questions on the ACT. The allowed time can be broken into 45 minutes for the English section, 60 minutes for the math section, 35 minutes for the reading section, 35 minutes for the science section, and the remaining time for breaks. This is typically a challenging time strain for students considering the length of the test.
History teacher Christina Wiley said, “The test is not designed to give you enough time to apply traditional knowledge and skills! Your score is not a reflection of your abilities or intelligence.”
The ACT is also scored differently than students may have experienced on the PSAT. According to the ACT website, “Your Composite score and each test score (English, mathematics, reading, science) range from 1 ( low) to 36 (high). The Composite score is the average of your four test scores, rounded to the nearest whole number. Fractions less than one-half are rounded down; fractions one-half or more are rounded up.”
The national average for the ACT is currently a 21. This means that a score of a 23 and above makes a student a strong contender in the application process and creates a larger possibility for scholarship opportunities.
Science, history and English teachers will be doing prep with their Junior students for the ACT. History and English classes will be covering prep for the English and reading sections where Science classes will be covering the Science section.
English teacher Deborah Gile says, “In addition to my planned curriculum, I have given my classes a Practice ACT Test for the English Section. We are now in the process of reviewing this practice test by focusing on those specific concepts with which students seemed to struggle. I’m also hoping to have time to give a second practice test before April 6th.”
However, there are still extra steps that students can take to prepare for the ACT independently.
“I believe that CollegeBoard offers free practice tests and study guides – if you go to MyACT.org or ACT.org,” Gile said. “There are also numerous preparation books and test prep. classes available for a price – so, you may want to do your research as to what works best for you.”
All colleges and universities accept the ACT, instead of or in addition to, the SAT.
The minimum scores that Arizona universities, such as the University of Arizona or Arizona State University, are looking for are usually at least a 22-28, although neither have official score requirements for admission.
Students so have alternative options to retake the ACT if they are not satisfied with their score. However, Corona offering this test in school provides them with the opportunity to take this test which they can use on their college applications at no cost.
“They can choose to [retake the ACT] on their own time with their own money,” Wiley said. “I hope by next year Corona teacher’s can spend time throughout the year to prepare students for the test in the Spring and get the score they want. One and done.. and for free!”