The ACT is comprised of four sections, each scored on a scale of 1-36:
The ACT stands for American College Testing, which is both the name of the test and the name of the nonprofit organization that administers the test. The ACT was first given in 1959 as an alternative to the SAT.
For many years the SAT was primarily a college admissions test for the east and west coasts, while the midwest mostly used the ACT. Now, however, students around the country take both tests irrespective of geography. In fact, in 2011, more students took the ACT than the SAT. All colleges and universities that require standardized tests for admission accept both the ACT and SAT.
Because high schools (and homeschooling programs) differ so much in their funding and quality, many university admissions offices believe that grade point averages (GPA) are not as accurate at predicting how well students will do in college as standardized tests. Therefore, most colleges require the ACT or SAT as part of their admission criteria.
Like the SAT, there is also an optional essay portion, scored on a range of 2-12. And like the SAT, the ACT is designed less as an aptitude test and more of an assessment of what students have learned in high school and how they think critically about it.
The questions on the ACT are multiple choice, and there are no penalties for wrong answers. Students are therefore encouraged to answer every question and not leave any blank.
The ACT provides two combined scores: ELA (English, Reading, and Writing) and STEM (average of Math and Science). Each student may send ACT scores to four colleges or universities at no charge; extra fees are assessed to send scores to additional institutions.
Offered seven times per year, the ACT costs $46 per try ($62.50 with the optional writing section). Students with disabilities are given extra time as an accommodation.
The English Test takes 45 minutes for 75 questions. Students must read five passages and make corrections to grammar, punctuation, structure, content ideas and concepts, and organization.
The Math Test consists of 60 questions that must be completed in 60 minutes. The math topics covered include:
- Elementary algebra
- Intermediate algebra
- Plane geometry
- Coordinate geometry
- Elementary trigonometry
- Complex word problems
Calculators are permitted but not required for this section, however, calculators that perform certain algebraic functions are not allowed.
The Reading section contains 40 questions that must be completed in 35 minutes. There are four sections of reading passages with corresponding questions about structure, main ideas, style, and interpretation.
The ACT Science Test is a reasoning and knowledge-based test consisting of 40 questions in 35 minutes. Students must read seven passages and answer questions about them regarding:
- Data representation
- Research summary
- Conflicting viewpoints
The Science section is not just a test of what scientific facts students have learned thus far in high school, although a basic knowledge from high school science courses is necessary for some questions. For the most part, it addresses how students can evaluate scientific material and understand what is presented to them.
While some collegiate institutions have dropped their ACT and SAT requirement, calling themselves “test optional” or “test flexible,” far more schools still require the ACT (or SAT) for admission. In fact, many schools use the SAT or ACT as initial screening tools, rejecting applicants for not meeting a certain threshold without ever looking at the rest of the application.
Students who wish to be competitive in the admissions process obviously need to take the test and do well on it. If a college has to choose between two otherwise stellar prospects, they often use their test scores to break the tie. Remember, the ACT is not an achievement test but a predictor of how well a student will perform in college. This is why Hawk Educational Solutions offers ACT test prep, in addition to other aspects of college admissions counseling (see Programs, below).
ACT test preparation can help students score higher on the test the first time they take it. It can also improve students’ scores on subsequent tries–a boon because colleges use the highest score submitted when making admission decisions.
The best ACT prep helps with reading comprehension, math problem solving, and best test taking strategies. By practicing the test with mock sessions that integrate best test taking methods, students have less anxiety when faced with the real thing, allowing them to focus on the task at hand rather than test stress.
Hawk Educational Solutions strives to offer programs to meet every student’s need. As well as providing test preparation and application help for high school students, we have tutoring packages for students as young as kindergarten, so your child can get off on the right foot towards a bright academic career.
The Test Prep Expert: PSAT/ SAT/ ACT Test Prep
Prior to the exam date, we recommend a program of 2-3 months of individual lessons 1-2 times per week, rigorous self-study, and 4 full-length practice tests.
The Collegiate Captain – College Application, Financial Aid, and College Admissions Essay Guidance
We offer full-service or “à la carte” college consulting:
College Admissions Essay Planning, Revision, and Editing
The Stellar Scholar: K-12 Multiple Subject Tutoring in English, Math, Science, and AP Courses
English, Common Core Integrated Math, and AP classes- You name it, we’ve got it!
Master of Organization: Study Skills, Organizational, and Homework Coaching
We provide academic mentoring in areas that are often overlooked in the classroom.
We help learners of all ages ramp up retention and critical thinking with organized note-taking, memory games, flashcards, Quizlets, and more.
The Sensei: Group College Guidance Seminars
Plan a college info event at a school, library, or community center.
Get an overview of college expectations, best test-taking strategies, and college planning tips.
Rates vary per student number and location.
Juliet Hawk, owner and founder of Hawk Educational Solutions, brings a blend of education credentials and practical knowledge to her profession as a college consultant. In addition to being a freelance writer and published author, Juliet holds a Master’s degree in English Literature and Composition from George Mason University and is certified as a public classroom teacher. She has also worked as a tutor and brings vast experience with ESL (English as a second language) students and special needs students, such as those on the autism spectrum, to her current consultancy.
The proof is in the pudding, though, and Hawk Educational Solutions has garnered over 80 five-star reviews and testimonials online, as well as numerous letters of thanks from grateful students and their parents. Even students starting late in the testing and application process and working on very tight deadlines have achieved phenomenal and life-changing results. Parents applaud Juliet’s methodical but personal approach, and students of all academic tiers appreciate her patience and the boost in self-esteem they’ve gotten from teaming up with her.
The competitive advantage of working with Hawk Educational Solutions is particularly apparent when it comes to ACT preparation. Not only are students coached in the material covered by the test, but they are also taught other elements that give them an edge, such as:
- Test-taking strategies, like narrowing the answer down to two out of four options
- Maximizing time during the test to finish all questions within the time limit
- Dealing with test anxiety and knowing what to expect on exam day
- Practice tests to gauge performance and make improvements
We believe you’ll find Hawk Educational Solutions’ prices a true value, given the expertise and personal attention that comes with our service. We understand that certain families may not be able to afford one-on-one appointments at our standard rates, so we encourage students to pair up. We’re also happy to provide instruction for small groups of three or four students at a discounted rate of up to 33% off per student!
Additionally, we are pleased to offer the following discounts:
- 5% off on packages of 10 or more hours of instruction
- Additional 5% off Military Discount
- Sliding Scale for Low-Income Families
Is preparation for the ACT really necessary? After all, it’s an aptitude test, right?
Like the SAT, the ACT is designed to align with US high school core curriculum in math and English, which means it tests students on actual material, such as knowing how to solve certain types of mathematical equations and what various vocabulary words mean in the context of a passage.
Since the ACT does not test strictly for aptitude, students can prepare for it by studying the material tested. It is possible for students to improve their test performance by preparing for the ACT in advance.
The ACT can be taken more than once too. If your child did not do well on the first time around with the ACT, all is not lost. Many students find that coaching can help improve scores between tests.
Hawk Educational Solutions also helps scholars prepare for the test by teaching them test-taking strategies and helping them deal with test anxiety, all of which makes students less apprehensive and more likely to perform at their best.
How far in advance does my child need to prepare for the ACT?
We recommend ACT coaching begin at least several months prior to the test. The sooner your child can start preparation, the more relaxed they can be about going over weak spots with the material, taking practice tests, and trying out test-taking tips. Our goal at Hawk Educational Solutions isn’t just to have students score highly on the exam but to make them feel confident and comfortable about it as well.
What is the difference between the ACT and the SAT?
Although colleges accept the ACT and SAT equally as admission criteria, there are subtle differences between the two:
- The SAT gives more time per question
- The ACT Math Test does not have a “no calculator” section
- The ACT includes a Science reasoning section
- The ACT Math prep is slightly different (more geometry on ACT)
- The ACT gives a reference table of geometry formulas (no need to memorize them)
- Greater emphasis on Math with the SAT (ACT weighs it as one-quarter of the score, which makes it a better test choice if math is not a student’s strength, versus the SAT, on which math is one-half)
- No grid-in questions with the ACT Math test, only multiple choice
- No evidence-support reading questions on the ACT
- Essay content differs (more personal opinion allowed with ACT)
You can check out our SAT Test Preparation page to learn more about the specifics of the SAT. When you sign up for test coaching with Hawk Educational Solutions, you can discuss which test is better suited to your child’s strengths, and your child can even take practice tests for both the ACT and SAT to see if their percentile scores differ significantly between the two.
What is the PSAT?
The PSAT, also known as the Preliminary SAT and NMSQT (National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test), is also administered by the College Board and is given to high school sophomores and juniors. With Math and Verbal sections, it’s similar to the SAT and offers a glimpse into how students are likely to fare later on the SAT. However, the primary purpose of the PSAT is to determine which students are eligible for the National Merit Scholarship Program, which provides financial support for top performers.
Does your child need assistance studying for the ACT? Are you unsure whether the SAT or the ACT is the right college admissions test for your young scholar? Contact Hawk Educational Solutions today. We can discuss the differences between the ACT and the SAT, and get started on a plan to achieve the best scores possible through SAT and ACT coaching and test prep that works.