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The ACT The Facts

Its a curriculum-based but not necessarily a content-based test
It requires baseline knowledge and high-order thinking skills on ACTs College Readiness Standards and the National Curriculum Survey . If you teach to the standards, youre teaching to the test The test is more about interpretation, analysis and process than content memorization especially in the Science section E.g., a tester is not required to memorize the the periodic table but is required to understand the role of its elements This said, you do need to know some baseline content. E.g., it doesnt give you an algebraic function like you may see on a SAT but expects the tester to have this knowledge at his or her disposal

The ACT Rigor Means Ready

There is no question that the best way to prepare for the ACT assessment is through rigorous coursework based on the College Readiness Standards and a solid ACT score correlates to a successful college freshman experience. For this reason, preparation for an ACT is not just preparation for a college entrance exam but rather for college coursework itself since its tied to College Readiness and your ability to succeed as a freshman in college

Take Rigorous Core Courses

English - 4 years  English 9, English 10, English 11, English 12 Math - 3 years +  Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, Trigonometry, Calculus (no calculus on the ACT but the highorder skills required significantly impact the ACT math score. Natural Sciences - 3 years +  General/Physical/Earth Science, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics Social Sciences - 3 years +  American History, World History, American Government, Economics, Geography, Psychology

Take the right courses, get the right score

Take the right courses, get the right score

Using your score to improve skills and understanding!

Suggestions to strengthen skills and understanding

Activities that may benefit students:  Do multistep computations with rational numbers

20-23 Score Range

 Solve routine two-step or three-step arithmetic problems involving concepts, such as rate and proportion, tax added, percentage off, computing an average with negative integers, and computing with a given average

16-19 Score Range

Solve routine one-step arithmetic problems, such as single-step percent, and calculate a simple average of whole numbers Perform computations on data from tables and graphs

 Gather, organize, display,  Translate from one representation of and analyze data in a data to another (e.g., a bar graph to a variety of ways circle graph) Describes the skills within a score range that a student is likely to know

College Readiness Standards

ACTs Standards for Transition helps students improve scores

Statements that describe what students are likely to know and be able to do...

And statements that provide suggestions to progress to a higher level of achievement

The Goal of the ACT

To enable a student to truly illustrate his/her college and career readiness and mastery of core content unencumbered by the barriers inherent to standardized tests, including time sensitivity, test management, fatigue, pressure, and unfamiliarity with the exam Fortunately, there are non-cognitive strategies that are systemic to standardized tests that can enable testers to better illustrate their true abilities so they can turn their poor testing into a positive

The Ultimate Goal of this Preparation

To put the test-taker in a position to control the test rather than letting the test control the test-taker

Its all about tester control


Since its Curriculum-Based, it is Somewhat Predictable

Since the exam draws from a body of knowledge that doesnt substantially change over time, it is limited in the variety of questions it can ask. Therefore, knowledge of the College Readiness Standards is the tests best preparation

Predictability = Points
Since the test only changes in subtle ways you can determine your strengths, weaknesses and patterns

33 algebra questions 14 pre-algebra 10 elementary algebra 9 intermediate algebra 23 geometry questions: 14 plane geometry 9 coordinate geometry 4 Trigonometry questions

Know what to study and what to invest your time in

ACT English Test Content

Punctuation 10 ques. Grammar and Usage 12 ques. Sentence Structure 18 ques. Rhetorical Strategy 12 ques. Organization 11 ques. Style 12 ques. 75 items, 45 minutes

Bubble in Blocks
Answer the questions in blocks of ten on your test and then transfer to the bubble sheet in one action this shaves off about 8 seconds per question, which may translate into a testers ability to answer an additional TWO questions per section, which may translate to time for an additional two questions Start answering one-to-one at the five minute mark Reserve the last couple of minutes to make sure all your bubbles are filled in (no penalty for guessing)

No guessing penalty Go into the test with a Letter-of-the-Day already determined. No letter is more correct than any other (no Ouija Board guessing) Dont guess yourself right out of your guaranteed 20% to 25% If youve used Process-of-Elimination (POE) to eliminate your Letter-of-the-day then randomly guess from whats left (now you have a 24.5% to 33.3% chance)

215 questions on the test. Answer 125 correctly and you achieve the national mean. On most tests, 55% correct equals a fail. On the ACT, 55% represents the national mean. The key is determining the right questions to spend your time on Therefore, its important to recognize and answer the easier questions correctly while saving the most difficult questions for last. Test questions basically and slightly goe from easiest to hardest although this can be personal and there are exception that well discuss In other words, you sometimes need to sacrifice to succeed. Recognize the difficult questions, save them, guess if unsure, and live to fight another, more winnable battle

Three Pass System Now-Later-Never: TRIAGE

Do NOT necessarily answer the questions in order Do the questions you know that you know first, even if their supposed to be more difficult Bubble in your letter-of-the-day for the ones you KNOW you DONT know Circle questions that youre not sure about but want to leave some time for at the end to give another try. Dont get stubborn and try to work tough questions out on your first pass If you get stuck midstream on a question, DONT get stubborn. Youre probably not going to have an Ah Ha moment but you might on a second pass with fresh eyes. By answering the easy questions on your first pass, youll have more confidence during your second pass

Process of Elimination (POE)

Incorrect answers may be easier to spot

and eliminate than your ability to work out the correct answer
Which of the following alternatives to the underlined portion is LEAST acceptable? A. Similar to B. Closely related to C. Separate from D. Resembling

A,B and D are too similar and subjective Answers that too close cant be correct

More POE
The test does have some distracter answers, so when you think youre making a good guess, you may be picking the exact wrong answer they want you to
Based on the passage, what does the author mean by the word diorama? A. Dramatic B. Miniature C. Equal D. Theatrical

A and D may be distracters since they could could both be related to logical conclusions you could draw from Diorama.


Math Timing
Questions tend to proceed from easier to more difficult although this distinction can be largely personal. You must recognize whats easier or harder for YOU regardless of its number The test will typically throw in one REALLY difficult question/s early to slow you down and cause frustration Typically, you can judge difficulty by how many steps are involved: one or two; vs. two or three; vs. three or more

Medium Question
22.Four carpenters built an average of 42 chairs each last week. If Cynthia built 36 chairs, Nancy built 74 chairs, and Kevin built 13 chairs, how many chairs did Peter build?

Hard Question
41.Four carpenters each built an average of 42 chairs last week. If no chairs were left uncompleted, and if Peter, who built 50 chairs, built the greatest number of chairs, what is the least number of chairs one of the carpenters could have built, if no carpenter built a fractional number of chairs? Question 22 has two steps whereas question 41 has four steps. Therefore, question 41 might be a good one to save

Bypass the Bogs - Math

Skip the questions (on your first pass) that you know are tough for YOU. Whats tough varies from person to person Dont spend five-minutes to miss number seven, leaving yourself less time to devote to numbers 28, 29, and 30, which may be appreciably easier Determine question difficulty early (i.e., is it a onestep, two-step or three step problem) Know your natural strengths and weaknesses. I.e., you might be great at geometric slope questions but very poor at cosmic algebra, where youre not necessarily solving for x

Math: Now, Later, Never

First Pass: Youre sure you know how to do it Second Pass: You think you know how to do it so you give it a quick try but you probably circle it and wait until a second pass Third pass: Youre sure you dont know the answer, so you bubble in the letter-of-the-day and you might take another shot, time allowing By doing all the easier questions on the first pass, you gain confidence going into the second pass

What Calculator to Use

Ideally, use a TI-83 TI-89 and TI-92s are not allowed

Plugging in and Backsolving

When asked to solve for x, then try working backwards from your answers choices (assuming you dont know the equation) always starting with the middle answer choice, this way youll never have to plug in more than two choices When not asked to solve for a particular variable you can plug-in reasonable numbers

2. If $600 was deposited in a bank account for one year and earned interest of $42, what was the interest rate? F. 6.26% G. 7.00% H. 8.00% I. 9.00% K. 9.50% If you know the equation, use it. If you dont know the equation, then backsolve from the answers Start with H so depending on the answer you only have to work in one direction Does 8% of 600 = $42? No it equals 48 so youll want to move down to 7% Does 7% of 600 = $42? Yes it does equal 42 so you have your answer


ACT Reading Test Content

Prose Fiction Social Sciences Humanities Natural Science 25% 25% 25% 25%

40 items, 35 minutes

Know Your Strengths

Testers typically find that one type of passage is consistently more difficult for them than the other three, typically by up to 20%. Save this difficult passage for last The toughest passages are usually either prose fictions (sub-text, metaphor, allegory, etc.) or natural science (unfamiliar terminology) but, again, this is very personal

Skip to Score
Testers have approximately 9 minutes per passage if theyre going to attempt all four. With this time pressure and the existence of a tough passage, testers will typically make several careless errors while rushing through easier passages just to get to the tough passage, which theyll typically do very poorly on regardless of the amount of time they invest If testers choose to concentrate on three passages, they have almost 12 minutes per passage, thus theyll probably make fewer careless errors. Assuming the tester guesses into 25% on the tough passage, this tester will achieve a score in the top 10 percentile of the country by only concentrating on three passages and guessing on the fourth Of course, this strategy must be used with discretion dependent upon the testers realistic target score

The Loop
1. Find the critical words and phrases in the questions (dont actually read the question) 2. Find those same critical words and phrases in the passage so you know to slow down 3. Skim the passage and note the main idea of each paragraph. Youre not reading for discrete information but rather for main idea 4. Practice the loop.

Extremes are Inexcusable

ACT is careful to avoid correct answers that represent extreme views Preferred Answer Choice words: may, can, should, usually, some Questionable Answer Choice Words: always, never, will, must, unquestionably

18. Based on the passage, how does the author feel about the work of Langston Hughes? A. He was the greatest black author of his time B. His appeal was universal C. He was one of the greatest authors of the 20th century D. His work only appealed to Americans


ACT English Test Content

Punctuation Grammar and Usage Sentence Structure Rhetoric Strategy Organization Style 13% 16% 24% 16% 15% 16%

75 items, 45 minutes

Refrain from Rhetoric

Do the questions in order leaving the Rhetorical questions for last (if for no other reason than rhetorical questions are typically more time consuming than the other types of questions)

Some of Their Favorite Kinds of Questions

Look for comma splicing. I.e., linking two independent clauses without any punctuation Pay very close attention if a verb or adverb is in the answer choice. Odds are that the answer is based on their proper usage

Science Section

ACT Science Test Content

Drawn from Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Physical Science:
Data Representation Research Summaries Conflicting Viewpoints 38% 45% 17%

40 items, 35 minutes

Know Whats in the Section

Charts and Graphs 15 questions: 3 passages Experiments (aka Research Summaries) 18 questions: 3 passages Fighting Scientists (aka Conflicting Viewpoints) 7 questions: 1 passage

Charts and Graphs

They do not have summaries or experiments Scan and look for trends Use guesstimation and POE

Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS)

Answers are rarely based on questions that are based on rote memorization, discrete knowledge, and basic skills Answers tend to require analysis, interpretation, assessments

General Testing Considerations

Night Before and Morning of the Test

Do NOT try to learn any new information or take any NEW quizzes. Dont subject yourself to NEW information Review information you already know and take quizzes youve already completed and done well on Read the newspaper the morning of the test to warm up particularly the OP ED page (basically same length and similar themes are reading passages Only review areas of strength


Perfect Practice out Performs Persistent Practice

Analyze a three-hour test for six hours rather than spend nine hours taking three tests. You need to know exactly why you got every question right as well as wrong

Test Information Release

You Can take the real test and get back the all the test questions, with a key and your answers Best possible preparation is to review this Only available in December, April and June Costs and extra $17 at time of test registration

Test Registration Recommendations

Even though you can send 4 score reports to schools free of charge, this may not be advisable Even though you can tell schools which test you want them to look at, theyll still see all of your test score submissions Its safer to spend the extra money and send your scores once you know what they are Try to take your first test on a Test Information Release date where you can get your test and the correct answers back (it costs $18) so you can have some real review


The ACT is for grades 11 & 12 11th is the best time! The ACT is actually 4 tests: English, Math, Reading & Science and an optional Writing Test The ACT includes: Career Interest Inventory A Student Profile HS Course & Grade Information

Step 2:
Complete All The Registration Information!
Colleges use this information for scholarship, advising, and course placement Checking yes on the EOS box gets students into colleges scholarship and recruitment pools!

More on Admission...
Many colleges begin contacting prospective students as early as the 10th grade - using PLANs EOS information. If you are a junior and do not score as well as you believe you can, there will be opportunities to retake the ACT during the fall of your senior year.

How do the tests compare? ACT

English, math, reading, science Curriculum-based Writing Essay: Optional Writing Essay: 30 min. Basic Fee: $33 ($48.00 with essay) No penalty for guessing Perfect score = 36 Students choose best score to report to colleges Accepted nationally (Ivy Leagues included) Pre-ACT: PLAN (10th) Career Interest Inventory

Critical reading, math, writing Reasoning Writing Essay: Mandatory Writing Essay: 25 min. Basic Fee: $45.00 Penalty for wrong answers Perfect score = 2400 All scores reported to colleges Accepted nationally (Ivy Leagues included) Pre-SAT: PSAT (11th)

2010-11 ACT National Test Dates

Test Date Registration Deadline
March 5, 2010 May 7, 2010

Late Reg Deadline

Mar 6-19, 2010 May 8-21, 2010

April 10, 2010 June 12, 2010 Sept. 11, 2010 Oct. 23, 2010 Dec. 11, 2010 Feb. 12, 2011 April 9, 2011 June 11, 2011

Registration deadlines for 20102011 will be posted on the Web in March 2010.

* September test dates is now available nationwide.

To Write, or Not to Write?

Take the Writing test only if your college(s) of choice requires it. Why spend more time and take a test that isnt necessary? Cost difference: ACT $33.00 ACT Plus Writing $48.00 ACT strongly recommends that you contact college admission offices for their current Writing policy, although you can go to for a list of what most schools require.

More About the Optional Writing Test

Format: 30 minutes Administered after The ACT Scored by two well-trained, qualified readers Standards-based interpretation Narrative included

Where Can You Get More Information on The ACT?

Check out ACTs website at:

The ACT is a national college admission test, accepted by colleges and universities across the United States!

ACT Score Scale

1 - 36

Estimated National Admission Selectivity Ranges

All HS grads until school capacity is reached

Up to 17 18-19 20-22 23-26 27-36

Some from lower 1/2 of HS grad class

Top 50% of HS grad class

Top 25% of HS grad class

Highly Selective
Top 10% of HS grad class

Test Day
Report to your test center/school no later than 8am (unless told otherwise by school) Check in
Acceptable ID Admission ticket (only required for national
test dates)

Test Day Schedule

(no break)

45 min. 60 min. 35 min.

(15 min. break)

(no break)

Science 35 min. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Writing (if taken) 30 min.

How Do I Register for a National ACT Test?

 Registration Packet--available in your high school counseling office  Online at  Telephone Registration at (319) 337-1270  Standby Testing

How Much Does the ACT Cost?

ACT ACT Plus Optional Writing Late registration Standby testing Additional Score Reports Early Scores on the Web $33.00 $48.00* additional $21.00 additional $41.00 $9.00 No charge NEW

* The $15.00 Optional Writing Test fee is refundable if a student is absent or the test option is changed before the test begins. Fee waivers are available for The ACT and The ACT Plus Writing

When Will I Get My Scores?

Your score report will arrive

three to seven weeks after youve

taken the ACT exam.

Should I Retest?

Its up to you!
Nationwide, about 1/3 of students who take the ACT also retest. Of those, 55% increased their composite score, 22% had no change, and 23% decreased their composite score.

If I retest, can I choose which results to send to colleges?

YES! You may select which ACT test to

send to colleges. However, you must send the entire student report which includes subscores and your composite score, and the Writing Test score (if you take the Writing Test).

The ACT. . .
 Is taken by more than 2.5 million students annually!  Is accepted by colleges across the country!  Provides more info for YOU!  Is based on what you can do with what you know!

What Other Test Prep Resources Are Available?

Preparing For The ACT
free booklet available in your high school The Real ACT Prep Guide

$25.00 (includes shipping & handling)

ACT Online Prep

personal version for $19.95

An An ACT score is only one item that colleges consider for admission, so

Put Your Best Foot Forward!