ACT Test Preparation – How Is the ACT Different?

Soon college hopefuls will be kicking their test anxiety into full gear as more than a million students will be taking college entrance exams. The ACT is different from the SAT.  But, your ACT test preparation shouldn't leave you stressed and confused.

 The exam has been gaining popularity recently and is now taken by as many students as take the SAT. The exam is utilized by many colleges and universities as one component in determining admittance. While in the past, many universities preferred, or even required the SAT, all universities now accept the ACT as a valid assessment tool.

Nervous Teen Ready for Exam

 The Differences

Both exams require fairly extensive studying and reviewing of material learned throughout high school, but where they differ most is in their testing philosophy. Understanding this difference can greatly aid in your ACT test preparation.

 The ACT attempts to assess the knowledge you have acquired. It focuses on the subjects and learning skills you were taught in high school. The SAT tries to assess your innate critical reasoning abilities. It uses phrasing in some questions that requires careful reading in order to determine test-taking skills. While it does test knowledge, it is also designed to determine your performance under pressure and your ability to determine what is being asked.

What is the ACT truly examining?

The ACT covers four subject areas – English, Math, Reading, and Science reasoning (the SAT does not cover science.) The writers of the test maintain a consistent sampling for each subject, for example, 5 trigonometry questions, 12 punctuation questions etc. This makes ACT test preparation a bit easier, and practice tests become more useful in evaluating areas of need.

The English test assesses your sense of correct English writing. While knowledge of proper grammar is important, memorizing the differences between grammatical terms is not a necessary component.

The math portion covers 6 areas of high school math – pre-algebra, elementary algebra, intermediate algebra, coordinate geometry, plane geometry and trigonometry. It also includes questions in areas not covered in the SAT, including logarithms, trigonometry, and matrices.

The reading section of the ACT presents passages on four topics– Prose Fiction, Social Science, Humanities, and Natural Science. Questions following each passage will ask you to identify details and facts, draw inferences, make character generalizations, identify main idea and point of view, and determine the meaning of unfamiliar words, among other skills. Unlike the SAT, the ACT does not test vocabulary other than a few contextual vocabulary questions in the reading passages.

In the science reasoning portion, your ability to “reason like a scientist” is evaluated. Earth and space sciences, physics, biology, and chemistry topics are covered, but the test is less about your specific knowledge of each subject and more about your ability to understand and analyze data.

There is also an optional writing portion, which some universities may require. ACT writing prompts are less abstract than SAT prompts, and pose questions more likely to fall within the life experience of most high school students.

Enlisting Help

While the ACT exam may sound simpler than the SAT, do not be misled. Studying such a broad range of acquired knowledge can be daunting. There are books and online resources to help, but enlisting the aid of academic tutoring services can take the guesswork out of ACT test preparation. Having one-on-one interaction is proven to be more beneficial than going it alone. With the organizational guidance and test insight from a professional who knows the exam inside and out, you increase your chances for success.

Interested in getting professional help with your ACT test preparation? Make the call to our center now (281) 392-5833. And visit our website for more information.

Carolyn Saunders

Huntington Learning Center Katy