With English, Math, Reading, Science and Writing to tackle, the ACT can be a little intimidating. But, break it down section by section and it’s really not that difficult to prepare for.
Here is what you need to know about each section of the ACT and how you can help your child prepare for it.
The English portion is 45 minutes long and covers the basics like punctuation, grammar and sentence structure. Students are also tested in rhetorical skills like organization, style and strategy. The test will consist of prose passages, each with its own set of multiple choice questions. The passages will vary, as will the types of questions.
The math portion is an hour-long and covers skills that most students should have acquired by their junior year of high school. The questions are in multiple-choice form and require students to use reasoning skills to solve mathematical problems. The knowledge of basic formulas and computational skills are necessary for this portion.
The reading portion is 35 minutes long, and will measure your child's reading comprehension. Students are asked to read several passages and answer questions that will determine their understanding of the text. Questions will go over main ideas, locating significant details, event sequencing, comparisons, cause-and-effect relationships, drawing generalizations and determining the meaning of context.
The science portion assumes that students taking the ACT are taking core science courses that will prepare them for college level study. It also assumes that students have completed a course in Earth science and biology. The tests gives several sets of scientific information, each followed with multiple-choice questions. The scientific information will be presented in one of three formats: data presentation such as tables or graphs, research summaries such as descriptions of experiments, and conflicting viewpoints such as expressions of related views that oppose each other. The follow-up questions will require students to recognize the basic scientific features of the information and draw conclusions/make predictions using the information given.
The writing portion is a 30 minute essay that will measure your child's writing skills, specifically those that are typically emphasize in high school English courses. The test gives one writing prompt that defines an issue and students are required to respond to a question about their position on the issue.
Preparing for the ACT
Paying attention in class and learning the basic skills needed for the ACT is first step to preparing for this test. Make sure that your child is doing well in her school courses, and figure out what the issues are if she is not. You may want to consider hiring a private tutor to help bring her grades up, but also to help her really understand the material. A private tutor will give your child the one-on-one attention she may be lacking from a classroom setting.
Beyond doing well in school, nothing will help your child prepare for the ACT like practice will. Use practice tests that can be obtained easily online to get a feel of the type of questions that will be given for each portion. Make sure that your child understands the different sections and what is expected of him for each. While you may not be able to help him during the actual test, you can ensure that he goes in knowing what he needs to do for each subject.
When it comes to ACT test prep, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. But if you stop thinking about the test as one part, and focusing on each section separately, preparing for the test isn’t as daunting as it once seemed. Make sure that your child does well in school, hire a tutor to make sure he understands the material, and practice, practice, practice.