Introducing the New ACT (and Ending
more than a million students take the ACT (officially
called the ACT Assessment), spending 175 grueling minutes poring
over a multiple-choice test that colleges and universities use to
help them decide which students to admit. And beginning in February
2005, most students will have to spend 30 additional minutes taking
the new “optional” writing test that the ACT will tack on to the
end of the current exam.
Most students also devote countless hours preparing before
the test to make sure they get the best score possible, and fruitless
hours after the test worrying about whether they got the score they
wanted. Now multiply all that time by a million students. We could probably
solve world hunger in the time it takes everyone to prepare, dread,
take, and then fret about the ACT. They should just do away with
it so we could all serve a higher purpose, right? No such luck.
The ACT is here to stay, and because it plays such an obvious role
in the college admissions process, students often get headaches
as soon as those three little letters come up. We wrote this book
to try to dispel the fears surrounding the ACT while teaching the
topics and study methods that will help you score your best. Ideally, we’d
like you to relax and see the ACT for what it really is: a three-hour
test covering the basics of a high-school education. It is not a
test that will determine your future happiness (or solve world hunger).
The questions on the ACT are probably easier than the questions you
regularly encounter on tests in high school. It’s a test that you
can easily study and prepare for, if you approach it in the proper
In this chapter, we will put the ACT into context. We’ll
explain the ACT’s relation to the SAT, what topics the ACT covers,
how it’s formatted and organized, how it’s scored, and why colleges
use it to evaluate prospective students. Most important, we’ll begin
to discuss how you should approach the ACT to minimize anxiety and
maximize your score. And maybe once you ace this thing, you can
then go out and solve world hunger.