The ACT test is a nationally recognized college admissions test, just like the SAT exam. And like the SAT, it is accepted by all four-year colleges and universities in the US. The ACT is good value because, in addition to being a college admissions test, it also can count for college course placement, increase your chances of getting scholarships, and even includes a career planning section. Furthermore, while the SAT has undergone significant changes over the last few years, the ACT has remained the same. The ACT is the nation's most-taken college entrance test, and is based on what you already learned in school.
In terms of the tests themselves, the ACT and SAT are similar in difficulty. But in terms of what score you need to get into good schools, the ACT has less competition. You need an ACT score in the top 3% to have a good shot of being admitted to Harvard or Yale, but that's actually more generous than the SAT, where you need a top 2% score for the same universities.
The vast majority of colleges accept scores from either test. If they accept scores from both tests, they must evaluate them equally - this is required by law.
The ACT is a medium-difficulty exam, meant to be challenging for everyone but approachable to anyone - including people that do not have a traditional public school education. It has five sections: English, Math, Reading, Science, and an optional Writing section. Be sure to check whether the colleges you're applying for require or recommend the writing section.
It is expected that experienced students can study for about 100 hours and achieve a top score, while those who are just learning the material for the first time should expect to spend 150+ hours to be suitably prepared.
The ACT tests five major skills:
You will be expected to use logic and the evidence presented to deduce the correct answer from multiple choices. This isn't too different from what you've already done in school – the difference is the subject matter and remembering which rules or calculations apply.
The ACT has math – there's no way around it. Fortunately, the math in the ACT is straightforward and more a matter of how you apply it rather than doing complex calculations. It's the standard PEDMAS: parentheses, exponents, multiplication, division, addition, and subtraction.
The English language
You need a strong mastery of the English language in order to score well on the ACT. This includes grammar, vocabulary, and writing. However, you don't have to know every grammatical rule, and the rules you do need to know are easy to memorize.
The ACT Science test quizzes students on their ability to interpret scientific data. Throughout the test, students must scan tables, charts, and short research summaries and answer questions based on the data presented.
It's maybe not everyone's favorite part of the test, but you will need to memorize some key formulas. Achievable has adaptive, memory-tracked quizzes built into our course to ensure you'll remember all the material you've learned on test day.