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The ACT – The Most Popular College Admissions Test in the United States


ACT is the most widely taken college admission test in the United States. This standardized examination measures student achievement across English, mathematics, reading and science; plus it features an optional writing section. Colleges use information gleaned from this exam for recruitment, counseling and placement purposes as well as to help motivate their applicants perform at their best; students often reevaluate their plans once seeing their scores!

Contrary to its counterpart, The College Board, which solely administers and operates the SAT exam, ACT Inc is responsible for owning and operating this examination. National test dates can be found every September, October, December, February, April or June with registration closing approximately one month before test date registration closing – late registration fees apply but may still be possible depending on when registration takes place.

The ACT test is a multiple-choice test comprising 215 questions that takes roughly three hours to complete, depending on if and when you choose the optional Writing section. This optional section consists of one essay question on a given prompt that is scored between 0-12. Two trained ACT readers score it, but this score does not factor into your composite ACT score.

Students can register for the ACT on either their high school campus or online at their convenience, though early registration is strongly advised in order to guarantee a seat on your desired test date. Regular registration closes 20 days prior to an exam in September, October and December while late registration incurs an extra $63 fee.

The ACT is generally easier than its SAT counterpart to prepare for, since it does not involve memorizing a long list of vocabulary words. Instead, the test evaluates your language abilities in context so as to reflect what will be needed at college. Furthermore, English learners may benefit greatly as every national test date offers assistance for this area unlike with the SAT.

Another key advantage of the ACT exam is its emphasis on scientific reasoning, something many college admissions officers highly prize. In its science section, you’ll read and interpret passages that include data representations, research summaries and opposing viewpoints; then answer questions asking you to analyze that information and draw conclusions or hypotheses from it.

The ACT Science test covers topics in biology, chemistry, physics and geology and lasts 60 minutes with approximately 60 second questions per response. You also have the option of taking an essay-based ACT Writing section that extends its testing time by 4-3.5 hours but doesn’t factor into your overall composite score; you can send this optional score directly to colleges as a part of their admissions package instead. ACT test scores are accepted by all four-year universities within the U.S. as well as over 225 international institutions!

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