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Taking the ACT

Many high school students understand they need to take the ACT in order to gain admission to college but they have some questions about the test.

One of the main questions is regarding the differences between the SAT and the ACT.

The ACT is more of an achievement test that measures what a student has learned in school. University campus grounds

The SAT is more of an aptitude test that tests reasoning and verbal abilities.

The ACT has up to five components including English, Reading, Mathematics, Science, and an optional writing test.

The SAT has three components Verbal, Mathematics, and a required writing test.

Students often want to know when they should take the ACT.

Students should sit for the test at least two months ahead of the application deadlines of all the colleges and scholarship agencies where they intend to apply. It typically takes four to eight weeks after a test date to receive score reports.

However, there are big advantages to testing earlier (even as much as one year earlier, during the junior year in high school). Testing early can allow for retesting if the exam results are lower than expected so that the student's performance can be improved.

Testing early will also allow time for further study and preparation if necessary to raise the score.

Another advantage to earlier testing is that colleges and scholarship programs will have access to your scores in time to contact you regarding admissions, course placement, scholarships and special programs.

Future college applicants frequently question whether it is to their advantage to retake the ACT. The answer to this question varies upon certain circumstances and on the individual.

Obviously if outside factors, such as illness or a personal problem were a distraction or a major problem on the test date, then retesting later after these have been resolved can be beneficial.

Similarly, if additional study or practice is expected to raise the next test score, then retesting is also be a good idea. In fact, ACT research shows that of the students who take the ACT more than once, 55% increased their composite score while 23% decreased their composite score. But you get to submit your highest score, so there really isn't any gamble on taking it more than once.

Once the actual test is over, most students want to know when they can see their scores. Well, ACT scores can be viewed online. During the viewing period, normally for about two weeks after scores are first available to view, a fee may apply. However, the official score report will be sent to you by mail.

Once students have their scores, they question what the scores actually mean.

The highest possible ACT score is 36.

The required ACT score for admission will vary from university to university as well as between each individual program at each school.

If you are not sure which college you intend to apply to, it might be useful to look at national rankings for your score. For example, the national rank for a composite score of 22 is 64. This means that 64& of recent high school graduates who took the ACT achieved a composite score of 22 or below.

And only 99 percent achieved 32 or higher. The ACT organization shows a complete ranking chart on its web site to help you determine where your score ranks.

Taking the ACT and trying to get the highest score you can is a major step toward achieving your future education goals. Get informed about the ACT.

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