The college application process is competitive and nerve-racking: You must plan many things, including taking standardized tests like SAT and ACT. And similar to the “Is the SAT hard?” question, “Is the ACT hard?” also receives a lot of attention from high school seniors.
In today’s post, Jobandedu will help you answer that question, get to know more about this standardized test, and give you a comparison table between SAT and ACT.
ACT: What’s It?
The ACT is a university entrance test utilized by most schools and institutions to select and sort out students.
This multiple-choice exam contains 215 questions and one writing (not mandatory). In detail, there are 75 issues in the English portion, 60 in the mathematics test, and 40 in the reading and science parts.
Every ACT segment’s result ranges from 1 to 36. Your cumulative ACT is calculated as the average of all 4 part results on a grade from 1 to 36. You will get a distinct Writing Test result if you do both the ACT and the optional essay.
The ACT is designed to assess a high school graduate’s university competence and to offer institutions a standard reference point for all candidates.
Undergraduate admissions staff will look at the standardized exam results, high school grade-point average, credits you studied (including AP credits), recommendation letters from instructors or school counselors, extracurriculars, university entrance personal interviews, and application statements.
The importance of ACT results in the university application procedure differs by college.
All in all, the better your ACT or SAT scores, the more possibilities for entering and university financing you will get.
How Long Is The ACT?
The ACT lasts about 3 hours (precisely 2 hours and 55 mins). Including rest periods, students are given about 3 hours and 30 minutes to finish all the questions. If you choose to do the extra writing, you’ll have 3 hours and 40 mins, or slightly more than 4 hours with break time, to complete the test.
Here’s an ACT timing breakdown by section:
- English: 45 min for a 75-question multiple-choice examination.
- Mathematics: 60 mins for 60 questions.
- Reading: 35 mins for 4 paragraphs of 40 questions.
- Science: 35 mins for 40 questions.
- Writing (Not mandatory): 40 mins for one essay.
Is The ACT Hard?
Like SAT, this standardized test evaluates essential topics at its heart, so you’re unlikely to come across any strange content. But, depending on how hard you practiced and how thoroughly you learned the subjects in class, the ACT could be tricky.
The English portion assesses grammatical and contextual principles that you should know. It evaluates concepts you’ve learned from middle school’s junior year and high school’s English lessons.
The Mathematics part does not examine anything beyond the principles covered in Algebra 2 and Trigonometry, which most schoolers have completed in their 2nd year of high school.
The paragraphs in the Reading part are designed at about the literacy level of a typical university freshman. Yet, they do not involve complex phrases, and most issues focus on basic reading skills.
The Science portion focuses on assessing experimental cases and science-based concepts, which you should be familiar with if you took a high-school science subject with a lab factor.
The ACT structure is the most difficult aspect for most high school seniors. Test takers have a very short amount of time to solve each issue; they must also read extensively and handle diverse topics.
Before you can effectively implement your understanding of the subjects, you must deal with the difficulties introduced by the exam layout.
4 Elements That Challenge ACT Test Takers
Plenty Of Reading
The test contains long paragraphs in both English and Reading. The Science portion also demands excellent reading comprehension (particularly for issues involving opposing opinions).
The Reading segment has 4 readings (or two sets of paragraphs) that correspond to a series of questions. Frequently, the test does not give line counts for assistance.
This entails investing a significant amount of time combing through the paragraphs for the data you require. You may not finish the segment in time if you lack an effective reading tactic before the exam.
As previously stated, the ACT is a high-pressure exam since it significantly affects your possibility of entering top universities.
Even on a not-too-complicated exam, pressure, and anxiety can make it all appear noticeably more intense. If you’re too scared of wrong answers, you may become sidetracked by nervousness and accidentally make the exam more complicated for yourself.
A few test takers struggle with the science portion of the ACT since it requires you to analyze unknown information from different types of experimental tests that you may not have found at school.
It might be challenging to read specific figures and diagrams if the numbers are presented in a distinctive design or are measures of objects that are hard to picture.
Some Challenging Math Concepts (And No Formulas)
The ACT mostly asks basic trigonometry questions and a few sophisticated math principles you might not have studied in class. However, hard questions only account for a small portion of the test.
To make matters worse, unlike the SAT, the ACT does not offer widely utilized mathematical formulas at the segment’s start. In that case, you’ll need to depend on your memory.
However, if the issues are a little more abstract, they will give you the equations and you have to figure out the answer.
When Should You Take The ACT?
Many high schoolers complete the ACT, SAT, or both in the springtime of their sophomore year or the autumn of their final year. It’s critical to allow enough time to redo the exam if you want to improve your result before submitting your college applications.
Is The ACT Easier Than The SAT?
The SAT and ACT often examine relatively similar content. Standardized test results are both utilized to make university entrance decisions and to prize merit-based grants and loans. The majority of universities do not favor one exam over another. Neither the SAT nor the ACT is more complicated than another. Different high schoolers perform better on one exam than another.
If you don’t know which one is suitable, refer to our comparison table below.
|Exam Format||ReadingWriting & LanguageMath||EnglishMathReadingScience ReasoningEssay|
|Test Taking Duration||3 hours||2 hours, 55 minutes (without essay)3 hours, 40 minutes (with essay)|
|Reading||5 paragraphs||4 paragraphs|
|Mathematics||ArithmeticAlgebra 1 and 2Geometry, Trigonometry and Data Analysis||ArithmeticAlgebra 1 and 2Geometry, Trigonometry, and Probability & Statistics|
|Calculator Rules||Not allowed on a few questions||Allowed|
Can I Take The ACT Online?
As of Sept 2018, any candidates taking the ACT overseas (including Canada) must do it online at an official testing facility. This is because the classic paper-based ACT is no longer eligible outside the United States. International test takers can only have the paper-based ACT exam if they necessitate special testing amenities because of a disability.
So, how about domestic test takers? Although most candidates in the USA must do the pencil and paper ACT, this is starting to change. As of now, a few jurisdictions and cities in the United States implement computer-based tests on school-day exam schedules. However, this does not apply to national test events.
Does The ACT Have Guessing Penalty?
Because the ACT does not penalize wrong responses, leaving an issue unanswered and providing wrong answers are equivalent. Thus, do not ponder whether it’s worthwhile to turn in a random solution for a topic that completely gets you. Write a response to each issue just in case you are blessed!
What Should I Do If My ACT Score Is Low?
If you took the ACT/SAT in your sophomore year ahead of schedule, you don’t have to stress out if your recent exam results are lower than expected. If you are concerned that your marks are insufficient and might impede your admission application, you have plenty of time to retake the exam.
If you do the ACT/SAT in your final year, you might lack time to retake the exam. In that particular instance, you might want to reconsider your plan.
One alternative is to search for test-optional schools. More than 800 establishments in the United States do not mandate standardized tests. There are bound to be a couple of decent options among those 800 academic institutions.
You might also find a list of colleges that usually accept people with comparable scores and sort out the best ones. For example, there are up to 40 good colleges with 1100 SAT scores (22 on the ACT).
Remember that your exam results are only an aspect of the application process. It is also wise to take action to improve the other parts of your application. Increase your GPA by putting in more effort. A good GPA can make up for a poor ACT/SAT result in most schools.
See also: Do colleges look at weighted or unweighted GPA?
Spend more effort creating an outstanding application statement that wows the admission staff and persuades them to take you in, regardless of your exam results.
Is the ACT hard? It varies by test takers. If you’ve prepared carefully and got used to the test format, the ACT won’t be a big deal. On the flip side, if you feel like the examined content and the test’s structure are not your strength, consider taking the SAT.
Didn’t score high on both tests? Panic not; you can still find many test-optional schools and still have plenty of time to improve your profiles. Check out other posts in our College Application section for more information.