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Learn About The ACT Exam Or College Assessment Exam

Jun 6, 2008
The ACT or College Assessment Exam is the principle method of measuring a student's general educational performance within the United States. All four-year colleges and universities accept the ACT as the basis for entry. This article will briefly describe the origins of the ACT test and also the structure and format of the test. The ACT exam is an important milestone in the education of a child, as it can determine the eventual level of education that they will receive and their future job prospects.

The College Assessment Exam or the American College Testing Program (also known as ACT) was first introduced in 1959 and was active nationwide the following year. It was designed by Everett F. Lindquist, a professor of Education at the University of Iowa to be a direct alternative to the established Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). Lindquist believed that the SAT's focus on cognitive reasoning abilities did not demonstrate the true potential in young students. Instead he designed a test that challenged the level of practical knowledge that a student had acquired.

The ACT test is designed to test student's abilities in four key areas of education. They are English, Mathematics, Science and Reading. Since 2005 an additional option of Writing has been added to the exam. There are a total of 215 questions in the test and it takes approximately four hours to complete. If the writing test is taken then an additional thirty minutes is allowed.

Students will typically take the English test first. This comprises of seventy-five questions that aim to examine mechanical and rhetorical skills. Generally questions will focus on sentence structure and the tone of the writer. The Mathematics test comprises of sixty questions that test the student's ability in algebra, plane geometry, coordinate geometry and trigonometry.

The third section is designed to test the student's reading ability. There are forty questions on fiction, social sciences, humanities, the natural and physical sciences. There is a wide range of subjects in this section that aim to test the breadth of a person's general knowledge.

The final compulsory section is centered on science. This is designed to test a person's reasoning skills. This comprises of forty questions that aim to test their ability to problem solve, analyze data and understand a research synopsis.

The optional writing exam will test the student's ability to plan and write a short essay. Demonstrating this ability helps to analyze the student's capability to develop structure, reasoning and coherent argument. Usually the student is requested to write the essay on a social issue that is relevant to them and their school.

The maximum points that can be attained in the test is 36 (if the student takes the optional writing module). According to the most recent figures the national average for the SAT test is 21.2, this is a marginal increase from the previous year.

In most states the ACT is available to be taken five times in a year and students can take the test as many times as they wish, but only once per testing period. There are some obvious benefits to taking the test on more than one occasion. Research carried out has show that around fifty-five percent of those who retook the ACT exam were able to increase their score the second time around.
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Learn more about the ACT test and ACT test registration locations.
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