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March 30th, 2011

Meet the ACT!

Growing up in Western New York in the 1980s, my friends and I all took the SAT. This was and still remains a junior year rite-of-passage. We’d heard of the ACT, we knew of rumors that somewhere in the American Midwest all students sat for it, but the colleges we were applying to certainly didn’t require it.

Fast forward thirty years and EVERY COLLEGE in the United States will accept an ACT score in lieu of your SAT score for admissions purposes. I therefore encourage every student I tutor to give the ACT a shot. And the results support my encouragement. The majority of students I’ve tutored over the past two years have scored better on the ACT than the SAT.

The ACT includes 4 subject area tests: English, mathematics, reading and science. Students have 45 minutes to complete the five English passages which test grammar, punctuation and writing skills. Next, students get 60 minutes to complete 60 math questions. The reading and science passages are each 35 minutes, but the reading contains 4 passages, while the science has 7. There’s also an optional thirty minute essay which concludes the test.

In New York State the ACT is administered on five test dates —in September, October, December, April, and June. Registering for the test and choosing scores to be sent to colleges is similar to the SAT.

I’ve found that many people of my generation, now parents, are still leery of the ACT. No longer a Midwestern novelty, it’s time to acquaint ourselves, and our teens, with it.

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