Last Updated: January 29, 2021
With more and more students looking to expand their future possibilities and explore more school choices for undergraduate study in the United States, many universities have begun to accept ACT
either in addition to or in lieu of, the SAT
. The rising importance of ACT in student life made it necessary for students to prepare professionally for the same which gave rise to the concept of Pre-ACT in 2016. Pre-ACT is aimed at students in 8th,9th and 10th-grade levels and is a platform that gives them first-hand information about the ACT test.
What is ACT?
Much like SAT, ACT is a test taken before gaining entry into a college or university in the United States. ACT, which originally stood for American College Testing, is a national college admissions exam that typically lasts around three hours or three and a half hours with the optional writing test. Unlike SAT, the test focuses on subject areas instead of general overall categories. ACT consists of English, Math, Reading and Science, along with an optional Writing test. Excluding the writing portion, the ACT is a multiple-choice test, split into four sections for each of the four subject areas. The scores may come across as confusing, as the highest possible score is a 36, compared to SAT's 1600 (or 2400); each subject test (not including the optional writing portion) is given a score between 1-36, the scores are averaged, and the final score is out of a total possible 36 points.
Previously, colleges and universities would use SAT as a judge of academic admission and to determine merit-based scholarships; few would accept the ACT in place of SAT. However, most US colleges and universities now accept both to provide admission and merit-based scholarships. In determining which test to take, students should consider taking both as they each test different aspects of academic ability (subject areas versus general concepts).
Prior to the acceptance of ACT instead of SAT in US colleges or universities, students were required to take the PSAT each year before taking the actual exam for college admission. The PSAT
allowed students to gain familiarity with the college entrance test by practicing each year and showing overall knowledge accumulated throughout their education so far. Recently, however, schools have begun to offer a new testing option called the Pre-ACT.
What is Pre-ACT?
The Pre-ACT is similar to the PSAT in the sense that it is a testing option provided before taking the official ACT in order to view the test and understand the format. The Pre-ACT option was officially announced by ACT Inc. in early 2016 and was offered in the fall of 2016 as a new option for high school students. As it is relatively new, not all high schools offer this option yet, though overall incorporation is the goal. The Pre-ACT will be offered to tenth-grade students in order to practice the format of the upcoming college entrance test.
As previously described, ACT is typically a three-hour test (three and a half hours with the optional writing section). However, the Pre-ACT only lasts for one hour and fifty-five minutes (just under two hours total). Much like the actual ACT, Pre-ACT is a multiple-choice test, with each of the four subject areas. Pre-ACT does not include the optional writing section. The practice test is substantially shorter than the official ACT because, like the PSAT, it is offered to give students a chance to see and understand the format of test questions
in the ACT.
Pre-ACT provides students an insight into their academic position which can both be an indication of progress with respect to the test or a sense that they have a wider scope for improvement. Students receive an estimated ACT test score which can be used by mentors and schools alike in providing interventions and improving their own teaching methods which in turn would be beneficial for the student. This score also lets students be aware of what subjects and areas they will flourish in and choose courses for higher education accordingly.
The report includes an indication toward the student's interests which can be used by counselors in guiding students to colleges that would suit their needs and also about college majors and careers that can be opted by the student in the far run. The fast availability of the report makes the planning process easier thereby saving a lot of time and assumptions regarding one's future.
Pre-ACT would then be beneficial because-
- Acts as a practice for official ACT test with flexible test dates.
- Both Pre-ACT and Act scores are calculated on the 1-36 ACT scale.
- Allows equitable access to practice for ACT without which students would have to learn entirely by themselves.
- Pre-ACT score can be shared with colleges and universities to show consistency or improvement.
- Provides a personalized view of interest that aids in choosing a course, college and career.
- Can receive report within 2-4 weeks which can be used for early and effective planning.
The four sections associated with Pre-ACT and ACT are English, Mathematics, Reading and Science. English will have 45 questions based on Conventions of Standard English, Production of Writing and Knowledge of Language. The Mathematics section comprises 36 questions in all that will cover topics like integrating essential skills, number and quantity, algebra, functions, geometry, statistics and probability. The Reading section will focus on key ideas and details, the ability to integrate knowledge and craft and the structure of language within 25 questions. The passages given can be from genres like social science, natural science and humanities. The final section for science deals with topics like the interpretation of data, scientific investigation and experimental results in 30 questions.
The topics, as evident, are similar to that of ACT given a few exceptions for portions that are part of 11th and 12th-grade levels.
Since the Pre-ACT is a precursor to the official ACT, their scoring system is the same. They are graded on a 1 to 36-point scale. The marks they obtain for the correct answers will be considered as a raw score. Their overall score will be an average of the individual scores from the four sections and will be called a composite score.
Scores received in the Pre-ACT always has room for improvement and can be worked on though the report might predict an average ACT score
attainable if the student remains consistent.
Pre-ACT and PSAT
While comparison can be made between Pre-ACT and ACT and conclusions like the difference in time and lack of topics like trigonometry can be reached, it would not be fair to the student to understand an exam they haven't taken yet. A comparison can then be made with exams like PSAT which the student might have already taken or is preparing for. < br>
It cannot be claimed that PSAT is harder than Pre-ACT since both these exams focus on assessing different qualities in different ways. Mathematics in PSAT focuses more on word problems which are heavily worded and can have long winding sentences. PSAT also does not have a science section whereas Pre-ACT has a separate section for science and this section mainly involves scientific reasoning.
Time is a factor that plays a major role in Pre-ACT since students receive only 130 minutes in all for four sections whereas PSAT provides a considerably better time frame that helps students relax.
Both these exams provide scope for scholarships like the National Merit Scholarships for the PSAT and other scholarships
if the student wishes to send their Pre-ACT report to colleges and universities.
Pre-Act and ACT Aspire
ACT Aspire when compared to Pre-ACT is a completely different examination that students from 3rd to 10th-grade levels can attempt. This test is computerized and not in paper format and is not comprised of multiple-choice questions only. The test has written responses, interactive questions and even asks for a critique of mathematical problems and therefore can be said to cater to a completely different structure and a different need.
The scores which would be within 36 for Pre-ACT would be graded under 470 for each subject and there will not be an average score that can be sent to colleges.
Information Regarding Pre-ACT Test Day
Pre-ACT dates are informed officially by the school that the student attends. Announcements must be closely monitored to not miss the same. Student/Parent can also enquire about the same to the counselor.
Requests for accommodation have to be forwarded to the school/counselor who will request, in turn, to ACT and arrange for the same.
Test Day Essentials-
- Three sharpened pencils (no.2) with erasers
- Watch to time oneself
- Calculator (not mandatory). Cross-check the ACT calculator policy for more info.
The time given for Pre-ACT is much lesser in comparison to the official ACT test. English, Reading and Science are given 30 minutes each whereas Mathematics is given a total of 40 minutes. PreACT would then give a total of 130 minutes whereas ACT would provide 175 minutes in all.
- Follow directions entirely.
- Enquire when in doubt.
- Do not spend more time on one single question.
- Choose the best answer and move on.
- Recheck work once complete.