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Is the ACT the Better Test to Take?
While both the ACT and SAT have many similarities, there are differences to consider as well. The break down of the SAT favors math a bit more in the overall score while the ACT favors reading and data analysis. The SAT math puts more focus on Algebra 1 and 2 whereas the ACT also puts equal weight on Geometry. On average, the SAT gives a bit more time per question (Up to 27 extra seconds per question at best). For details on everything that’s different about each test, check out this post.
If you’re looking for resources, though, especially free ones, it’s worth noting that the SAT has undergone drastic changes over the last decade, so using older tests to prepare is less reliable. The SAT had some major changes in 2012 and again in 2016. Now, in 2024, the SAT is about to undergo another major change with the digital SAT, which will also see some changes to the overall structure of the test.
How Do I Register for the ACT?
You register for the ACT on the ACT website. To register for the test you will need to have or create an account.
- Log into or create a MyACT account.
- From your dashboard, click the registration link, or click the link here.
- Choose your test center and date. Note that tests are always administered on Saturdays.
- Add your photo ID and personal information. Make sure that your information provided matches the information on your photo ID.
- Prepare for test day. Make sure you set out everything you need the night before and have everything you need for the test. Must-haves include:
- Face covering
- Your up-to-date admission ticket. (You need to print this out.)
- Acceptable photo ID
- Two No. 2 pencils with erasers
- An approved calculator
What is the Cost of the ACT?
It is $66 to register for the ACT. Various other costs may be associated with your test if you wish to do things such as change test dates, rush scores, or get a more detailed report. Late registration incurs an addition $36 fee. Some students are eligible for a fee waiver which covers the cost of regular or late registration. According to the ACT, 11th and 12th-grade students are eligible for fee waivers if one or more of the following applies:
- Enrolled in a federal free or reduced-price lunch program at school, based on US Department of Agriculture (USDA) income levels.
- Enrolled in a program for the economically disadvantaged (for example, a federally funded program such as GEAR UP or Upward Bound). Note: If the student participates in a program, but is not economically disadvantaged, they are not eligible for a fee waiver.
- Resides in a foster home, is a ward of the state, or is homeless.
- Family receives low-income public assistance or lives in federally subsidized public housing.
- Family’s total annual income is at or below USDA levels for free or reduced-price lunches on the USDA Food and Nutrition Service website.
When Should I Take the ACT?
We recommend giving yourself a few months to prepare for the test. As with any exam, the earlier you start preparing, the better. This is because it will take time to learn new concepts, memorize the necessary formulas, and improve your understanding for advanced concepts. If you’re looking ahead, you could start working on essential concepts like Algebra, Geometry, Data Analysis, Reading Comprehension, and Grammar/Punctuation in 9th grade. As students encounter these concepts in their high school classes, build a deeper understanding of the core concepts, how they relate, and word problems. If you haven’t thought of preparing beforehand, though, it’s not too late. Most students take these tests in their junior and senior years.
How Long Should I Study for the ACT?
To give yourself the best chances of absorbing new information and improving your score, we recommend a minimum of 2-3 months in between taking tests. Of course, this will vary depending on your schedule and how much time you can devote to studying, how easily you can understand the concepts, and your current level of preparedness. Taking back to back tests will likely not show much difference in scores unless you intend to undergo a bootcamp-like study schedule.
Should I Take the ACT More Than Once?
For best results, you should consider taking the ACT at least twice if possible. For many students, the first time taking the ACT will not be the best. Taking the test the first time will allow students to get used to the content, format, and pacing. Tutoring or prep resources can help with this, but nothing beats actually experiencing test day. After getting your score back, you can use it to see which areas need improvement and adjust your study strategy. Unfortunately, not as many schools offer pre-scheduled Pre-ACT or ACT testing during the school day as with the SAT, so you are more likely to have to register and pay for the ACT yourself for all testing.
Do I Need to Have a Tutor for the ACT?
If you’re not satisfied with your scores and you find that your scores are not improving, especially after months of studying, you likely need some help. There are a variety of ways tutors can help students studying for the test. Tutors can help students review the essential information, concepts, and formulas they need for the test; review test-taking strategies; and/or show you how to use your time efficiently to get that coveted perfect score.
If you need a tutor, give us a call. We have helped students with all the situations above, and our students see significant increases in their scores after roughly 8 sessions (8 hours) with one of our tutors.
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