The ACT is an achievement test like the SAT, and ALL colleges accept either one. In recent years, the ACT has gained in popularity over the SAT (one of the reasons why the SAT is undergoing major changes). Other than the obvious differences between the tests like scoring, number of sections, science section, etc., here are some little known facts about the ACT:
- Some schools can automatically see your ACT scores even if you do not report them. Some states, including Florida, are considered automatic reporting states for the ACT. This means a student’s ACT scores get automatically reported to the State Department of Education. And while it is not sent to colleges directly, public universities in Florida do have access to those records. These scores are primarily used for Florida Bright Futures, but can also be used for other research and information. Scores will be reported unless you specifically direct the ACT organization, in writing, not to do so. To direct them not to report your scores, students need to send a letter postmarked by the Monday immediately after the test date you don’t want reported. Address your letter to: ACT Institutional Services, PO Box 168, Iowa City, IA 52243-0168. This will not affect the reporting of scores to the colleges you listed.
Importantly, Florida schools look at the BEST scores. So if you do badly on one test and better on the next one, only the best scores will count; however, it is important to contact schools with rolling admissions policies directly to ensure they know that new scores are on the way in order to postpone a decision if needed.
- Most colleges do NOT superscore the ACT. Superscoring means a college takes the highest subscores from various test dates to get a new, higher final score: the superscore. The subscores come from the four components of the test: Math, Reading, English, and Science. Some of the more popular colleges known to have superscored the ACT include: American University, Amherst College, Boston College, Brandeis University, Bryn Mawr College, California Institute of Technology, Florida Atlantic University, Florida Gulf Coast University, Florida State University, Georgia Tech, Johns Hopkins University, New York University, Northeastern University, Tufts University, University of Chicago, University of Georgia, University of Miami, University of Mass Amherst, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, University of South Florida, Vassar College and Williams College. And there are more, as well. If your choice colleges are not on this list, call the college’s admissions department and ask if they superscore the ACT. Most colleges superscore the SAT.
- Many top schools accept the ACT with Writing instead of the SAT and two SAT Subject Tests. Several colleges require or recommend SAT Subject Test scores for admission and placement of incoming students. Many of these colleges actually accept the ACT with Writing as a substitute for the SAT and SAT Subject Tests. This flexibility saves families time, money, and convenience by not necessitating additional tests.
- Where you take the test can matter. Testing conditions can contribute positively – or negatively – to a student’s scores. When registering for the exam, be mindful of the testing location. Some problems our student clients have encountered at various test sites, for example, include proctors eating crunchy food while students took the test, proctors leaving doors open, and tests stopped early. Students should ask older friends where they took their SAT/ACT, and if they experienced any issues at their test site. Clients of International College Counselors should contact us for advice on testing locations.
- Bombing on the ACT – or the SAT – is not the end of the world. Roughly 860 colleges and universities are test-optional. That includes more than a third of the nation’s 100 top liberal arts colleges. A list of test-optional schools can be found at www.FairTest.org.
When choosing an ACT tutor, remember that the tutor should be an expert with the specific strategies and content given on the ACT. Not all tutors have the proper materials and know how to prepare students for the ACT. For recommendations on tutors who specialize in the ACT, or to contact an educational consultant at International College Counselors, please visit us at www.internationalcollegecounselors.com.