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Introduction to the ACT
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The ACT (or American College Testing Assessment) is one of the two major standardized college entrance tests taken in the United States today (the SAT I is the other). It's growing in popularity nationally. Approximately 1.7 million copies of the test are administered annually; this figure includes repeat test-takers. Some test-takers take either the ACT or the SAT I, while many take both tests, depending on the requirements of the colleges applied to.

What's the Point?
Standardized tests like the SAT I and ACT are designed to allow college admissions officers to judge all students by a common yardstick; they compensate for the uncertainty surrounding high school grades because of school-to-school differences such as grade inflation and quality of teaching. They're designed to predict first-year college academic performance, and to torture you. Oops. Make that "NOT to torture you." We repeat, they are NOT designed to torture you. Nope.

Test Format
The ACT is broken into four tests, always administered in the same order: English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science Reasoning. The total test time is 2 hours and 55 minutes. The entire test is in a multiple-choice format.

One Size Fits All
One good reason for considering the ACT is that it may save you from having to take four SAT tests. We kid you not!

Many competitive colleges now require applicants to take both the SAT I Reasoning Test and up to three SAT II Subject Tests (there are 22 of them--ranging from Chemistry to Japanese Listening). But there are a number of schools--including Bryn Mawr, Boston College, and Duke--that do not require you to take SAT II tests if you take the ACT. So taking the ACT might save you hours of testing (and even more hours of preparation).

Of course, before you get too psyched about the one-size-fits-all ACT, keep in mind that these policies vary from school to school. There are a number of schools that require the SAT II regardless of their ACT or SAT I requirements.

For more information on the SAT or ACT, visit

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Kaplan is a registered trademark of Kaplan Inc. SAT, AP, and Advanced Placement are registered trademarks of the College Entrance Examination Board, which is not affiliated with this site. ACT is a registered trademark of ACT, Inc., which is not affiliated with this site.




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