By Ben Lawlor.

The ACT is a test taken nationwide, but what is it really? If you’re like me, you may feel like no one ever explained it in very much depth. Put simply, the test is for colleges to measure your academic knowledge. They use it to know if you would be a good candidate for their school. A better score means better chances of getting into the school you want.

The ACT tests you on things you should have learned in high school. It is broken up into five sections: English, Math, Science, Reading, and Writing. The writing, however, is optional. If you elect to take that portion of the test, colleges use it to evaluate your ability to compose coherent writing as well as your ability to reason. Each section’s importance changes based on what school you wish to get into. For example, schools focused heavily on math or science programs pay specific attention when you get a good score on the those sections.

A perfect score is a 36. Less than .2% of test takers receive a perfect score. However, anything above a 30 is generally considered a good score. With a score of 30, you are in the 94th percentile, which means your score is in the top 6% of highest scores.

Of course, there are tips for each section. An easy tip for the English and reading sections is to choose the answer that sounds the best out loud. Obviously, you can’t actually say anything out loud, so say it in your head. Also, the shortest answer is often the correct one. Do not, however, always choose the shortest answer. During the math portion, it’s often easier to plug in the possible answers rather than trying to solve it. You also need to pay specific attention to graphs or charts. This also applies to the science section. Analyze any graphs in the science section to understand exactly what you need to find. The science section tests more on being able to interpret data, rather than knowing scientific facts. Any teacher you ask will also do their best to give you any pointers and tips.

The ACT is typically taken during the junior year of high school. Without the writing, it costs $46 to take it ($62.50 with writing). However, this year, the scholars of Heritage Academy are taking it as a standardized test at the end of the semester. We have the opportunity to take it for free this semester. So to everyone taking it, good luck.

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