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Everything You Always Wanted to Know About the ACT Test


What is the ACT?  It measures knowledge and skills in English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science.  In spring 2005, ACT introduced an optional Writing test that measures direct student writing skills.  The ACT also collects a variety of other information including educational background, plans, and needs.  Go to www.actstudent.org/faq/faq.html for answers to Frequently Asked Questions about the ACT.

The ACT Writing Test– The optional 30 minute ACT Writing Test complements the English test.  The combined information from both tests will tell postsecondary institutions about students’ understanding of the conventions of standard written English and their ability to produce a direct sample of writing.

If you have already decided on the college or university that you will be attending, be sure to check to see if they require or recommend the Writing test for admissions.  

How colleges use the ACT– In making decisions about admission, many colleges use results from the ACT (some include the Writing test) or other assessment measures, along with high school grades, class rank, and extracurricular accomplishments.  Colleges may also use what they learn about you from such an assessment for course placement, academic advising, career counseling, and scholarship awards.

When should you take the ACT?– A number of factors may affect your decision about when to test.  The colleges you’re interested in may have an application deadline, or there may be a special program or scholarship you want to apply for that requires a test score.

Every single junior at Mansfield Senior High School will take the ACT in March.  Also, many students choose to test a second time in hopes of raising their scores.

How you can prepare– If the thought of taking a standardized test like the ACT makes your extremely nervous, it shouldn’t!  You’ve been preparing for the test since the day you started school.  IN fact, because the exam is designed to measure general academic development, your best preparation is a solid high school curriculum.

A little test anxiety is normal.  To lessen your anxiety, though, there are things you can do to prepare.  Make certain that you are familiar with the test content and format and are aware of several basic test taking strategies, which include:

Get plenty of sleep the night before the test.

If you feel nervous before beginning, try to relax by taking a few deep breaths.

Maintain confidence in your abilities and plan to do your best.  Your attitude can affect your performance.

Listen carefully to all instructions and ask questions if you hear something you don’t understand.

Focus your attention entirely on your work.

Position your answer sheet next to your test booklet so you can mark answers quickly and accurately.

Before answering each question, read it completely, as well as all the possible responses.

When you are unsure of an answer, choose the one you think is best and go on to the next question.  Be sure to answer every question.  There is no penalty for guessing.

Pace yourself throughout the test by occasionally checking the time.

If you complete the test before your time is up, reread the questions and check your answers.

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