Many students wonder whether they should take the ACT in addition to the SAT when they prepare for college admissions. The answer is an emphatic “Yes.” One of the biggest advantages to the taking the ACT is that, since the test is published by a different company than the one that writes the SAT, you do not need to send your scores to colleges if you are not satisfied with how you did. This essentially makes the ACT a risk-free test. Additionally, many students find that the style and the content of the ACT are better suited to their academic strengths. Here are a few key facts about the ACT:

  • Unlike on the SAT, there is no penalty for guessing on the ACT, so you should answer every question
  •  There is an optional writing section administered at the end of the exam. Some colleges require the essay, while others do not. The essay is substantively very similar to that of the SAT: the question will be broad and related to an issue of social or cultural importance. The essay is graded out of 12.
  • There is a Science section on the ACT. It is broken into Data Representation, Research Summary and Conflicting Viewpoints subsections. This section is less concerned with your science knowledge as it is with your science reasoning ability. The test will ask you to evaluate graphs and interpret accounts of experiments in a way that actually closely resembles the Critical Reading section of the SAT in terms of the skills that it tests.
  • The Reading section of the ACT is similar to the Critical Reading section of the SAT. There are 4 passages including a fictional passage first, and ones related to humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences next.
  • The English section of the SAT is analogous to the Writing section of the SAT. It tests grammar, sentence structure, punctuation, clarity, and organization (the logical flow of sentences within a paragraph).

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