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The ACT Test

Teacher/Instructor Devorah Goldblatt
Devorah Goldblatt

Summa cum laude
Perfect scorer on the SAT & the ACT

Devorah is the founder of Advantage Point Test Prep and the author of the book “Boost Your Score” The Unofficial Guide to the Real ACT.

Hi I'm Devorah and I'm going to be your ACT teacher. Let me tell you something the ACT is really like a code with enough practice you can learn how to crack it. Good news the ACT actually the most predictable standardized test that's ever been designed. You'll always have the same sections appearing in the same order and the same skills tested in the same amounts on each of the sections. So with some practice you'll always know exactly what to expect. I tell my students kind of like Time Square on new year's you know year after year the same thing happens in the same order, every time and we watch it any way you know what and it's always the same stuff you've got the mediocre concert you're watching and you're thinking huh do I even really care right? The couple of celebrity that show up you know because they have nowhere else to be on new year's. And then we've got the crowd with the funky hats and then at the end the ball drops. And that's New Year's at Time Square that same formula year after year. Again that's what the ACT is like very predictable. So in this course we're going to diver in so that you can crack this code. In this episode we're going to talk about first of all ACT how it's the amazingly crackable test and we'll look at the format so we know what to expect. Second we're going to talk about ACT scoring, so you'll know what you're score is. And third we're going to talk about how to best prepare for the ACT. Okay you're ready? Let's get started.
Let me tell you about the ACT sections so you know exactly what to expect on test day. First of all four mandatory sections and one optional this is unlike the SAT. On the ACT the writing portion is actually optional and the other four sections are mandatory English, Math, Reading and Science. Always in the same order very cool on the SAT you don't know what's coming at you next. On the ACT they're always in the same order so you'll know what to expect. Same skills tested same number of times another thing that's prominent about the ACT very predictable almost like a code you can crack you'll know exactly how many times skills are tested. So for example you'll always know ten punctuation questions. Let's take a look at these ACT sections first you're going to see English. Seventy five questions in forty five minutes and again you'll know exactly what to expect here punctuation, sentence structure, organization, style, strategy and grammar. These are the concepts that are going to be tested and you'll know exactly how many times these concepts are going to appear. We'll dive into these a lot more when we actually talk about English. But for example only ten punctuation questions ever, only eighteen sentence structure questions, very powerful stuff to know because you'll know how to schedule your prep and what you need to focus more on. Same thing with Math also very predictable sixty questions in sixty minutes. Always testing the same concepts, concepts like algebra, coordinate geometry, plane geometry, elementary trigonometry. And again the same amounts of times for each of those skills.
Reading is next forty questions in thirty five minutes and this will test you reading comprehension and four different passages. Next Science again forty questions in thirty five minutes and this test things like interpretation, analysis, evaluation, problem solving. Students often worry about this you actually don't need any scientific knowledge and we'll talk about that in this course. Last you got the optional sections, the writing and if you choose to take it you've got one writing passage that takes you thirty minutes to write. One more key piece that you need to know on the ACT there are four answer choices for English, Reading and Science but five answer choices for Math, so very different than what you would see on the SAT. Another cool thing about the ACT they're really nice to you they don't want you to miss grid. So instead of having their answer choices be things like you know A, B, C, D, A, B, C, D, A, B, C, D the answer choices go from A, B, C, D to the next one will be F, G, H, J and then back to A, B, C, D so it's really easy to keep track of which answer choice you're filling in.
Let's go ahead and talk about how the ACT is scored. So there's a couple of different components to the scoring I want to talk about. First raw and scales scores. On the ACT you're going to get a point for every correct answer there's no penalty for a wrong answer so just a point for every correct answer, all those points added up give you a raw score. Now there's a proprietary formula that the ACT Company has that converts your raw score to a scaled score from one to thirty six. Now intuitively you know that about this switch from a raw to a scaled score because on the ACT for example you know the sections are each out of eight hundred but you know they're not eight hundred questions for each of the sections students would be there all day right? So there's going to be some formula to switch your amount of correct answers into a score from one to thirty six with thirty six being the highest score. Composite score, you're going to have a score from one to thirty six on each of the sections that you take and then you're going to have a composite score. That's the score that's the average of all the squares you get on the four sections together. So in each of the sections you're going to get a score from one to thirty six and colleges really care about your composite score which is the average of those four scores on the mandatory sections.
Last you'll see percentiles and that tells you how you compare to other students who took that test and you'll get a score that compares you to students in your state as well as students in the rest of the country. Let's take a look at a score report so you see what I mean. Here we go we've got a score report straight from the ACT company and you see right here you got your composite score, right, and that is the average of four different section scores. You've got your English score again from one to thirty six, you've got your Math from one to thirty six, your Reading and your science. And what colleges are going to care about is your composite the average of those four scores. Now if you did take the writing you'll have a separate sub-score that combines your English and your writing. Okay also you're going to have percentiles so here it tells you for example if you got a twenty one well that's better than sixty one percent of students in your state and fifty six percent of students in the US. So that is exactly what your score report is going to look like.
So now you know all these you may be thinking 'oh my gosh Devorah tell me how should I prepare?' Well let me tell, you first you're going to want to take a practice test why? Well first of all that will help you get a sense just so what ACT looks like, the format, the directions things like that. It will also give you a sense of your strengths and your weaknesses you'll know where you need to direct your prep it's very important to take a practice test. Watch videos on strategy and skills that's me well I'm going to do is go over all the top skills and all the strategies that you need to nail this test so make sure you really careful watch these videos. Next practice and analyze take more practice test and pick them apart we keep talking about the ACT is so predictable so there's not going to be a lot of variance between tests. If you take enough tests and you really pick them apart and see how you did and see know what you got right, what you got wrong, you'll do better next time and eventually there's not going to be anything that will surprise you on test day.
Last work through your quizzes and extras this course comes a lot of bonus material. If there are concept we go over that you feel a little iffy about there's probably some bonus practice problems or some tutorials for those concepts. So make sure you tackle those and when you have all these things in combination taking the practice test, watching the videos and doing all the bonus materials you're going to do a fabulous job when it comes to test day.