College entrance exams are usually required for admission to colleges. ACT scores are an indicator of how students will perform in college settings. Universities may ask for ACT and SAT scores as well as applications and other materials to determine acceptance. Different colleges might have different ACT requirements for getting in, though some may not have ACT requirements at all. Universities almost always have a higher ACT admission requirement, but community colleges and distance learning programs may not have such high score requirements. The Admission Office at the college you choose will be able to provide admission requirements information for you as a prospective student.
The ACT test is made up of four different portions: Math, Reading, English, and Science. The scores range from 1 as the lowest grade to the highest possible grade of 36. The subject areas are rated individually, and the four areas are also averages as a composite score. The average ACT score is usually a 20. This means that 50% of test takers will score lower than 20. Ivy League schools require a considerably higher score for admission.
The ACT test consists of 215 multiple choice questions and lasts for 3 1/2 hours. The cost is $31 if you do not take the optional writing portion. With the writing portion, the cost is $46. This price includes having your scores reported to four colleges of your choice. Your colleges will receive your scores in three to eight weeks, so it is best to take the test at least three months before the admission deadline of the college of your choice.
High school students should take the ACT test during their junior year. By doing so, students will have the option of taking the test again if the scores are not satisfactory. The test is given in October, December, February, April, and June. Some states offer an additional test in September.
If you want to take the ACT test, you may sign up through ACT.org and choose a testing location and time convenient for you. You must be at least 13 to sign up online. ACT.org also offers practice tests which can help students improve their scores. Some of these tests are free, but some of them are for sale. Many books with practice tests are also on the market, and colleges may provide short prep classes to help students improve their grades. Check with the institution to see if it offers such classes.
The higher the composite score, the better your chance of getting into the school of your choice. However, a high ACT score alone will not insure admission. Admission officers are often looking for well-rounded students who have diverse interests and active minds, so a high ACT score is desirable, but it alone will not insure admission to college.