FAQ– General ACT Info
What is the ACT and do I need to take it?
The ACT is another standardized test like the SAT. The ACT has four sections: reading, math, writing, and science. It is accepted in place of the SAT at any college or university requesting standardized test scores for admission. Students are encouraged to take the ACT at least once during their junior year.
Do all colleges accept the ACT?
Yes! Parents might remember a time years ago where certain universities only accepted the SAT, but for over 20 years any college that requires standardized admissions tests will take either the ACT or SAT with no preference given to either one.
When should a student take the ACT?
Students should take the ACT their junior year. Even in the fall, most juniors will have covered enough English and math in school to take the ACT. ACT math does include a few trig questions and a handful of higher level Algebra II concepts (logarithms and matrices), but most juniors will have sufficient skills to take the ACT even if they are just starting Algebra II in the fall..
Most students will want to take the test more than once to improve their scores, but students who are pleased with their initial scores do not need to retake the ACT or take the SAT.
Will colleges “superscore” my ACT if I take it more than once?
It depends. “Superscoring” is the practice of taking a student’s best individual section scores, even if they come from different test dates, and adding them together to form a stronger “superstore.” Some colleges superstore the ACT and other don’t. Check with the schools on your list to be sure.
I have a learning difference. Can I get accommodations on the ACT?
Yes, students with documented disabilities can receive accommodations on the ACT, but you need to work with your school guidance counselor to submit an application to ACT and present appropriate documentation. The process can take weeks and not every student is approved. For additional details see the ACT’s Services for Students with Disabilities page.
How do colleges look at scores when a student takes the ACT more than once?
Colleges expect students to take the ACT or SAT more than once. Don’t panic that schools may see lower scores; they are looking for and focus on a student’s best score.
Most colleges will look for your best composite score (the average of all four sections), but some schools have begun to “superstore” the ACT by taking your best results in each of the four subject areas. “Superscoring” means a school might take your best English and Science from one test and your best math and reading from another. Check with the colleges and universities on your list to learn their ACT policies.
Can my son keep taking the ACT until he gets the score he wants?
Taking the test over and over will not increase scores. Before a student takes the SCT for a third or fourth time he or she should change preparation strategy — take a prep course or refresher, study new material, or implement a new approach. With proper preparation, it may be a good idea to re-take the ACT if a student is unhappy with previous scores.
When I sign up to take the ACT they ask for college or scholarship codes. I’m not sure where I will apply; should I send scores?
When registering for the SAT or ACT students are given four free score reports which can be sent to any college or scholarship program. If these free reports must be requested when registering for the test. Additional score reports requested later will cost an additional fee (approximately $10-$15 per report.) Because of the additional cost, students are encouraged to use the four free reports included with test registration. It is acceptable to send scores to a school and later decide not to apply.
Personally, I like to see scores before I send them and I don’t mind paying for that peace of mind. You do what seems right for your situation.
I’m on reduced lunch at school. Is there a discount on SAT/ ACT registration fees?
Students who qualify for free or reduced lunch can receive a fee waiver to cover the cost of testing. Students who use a fee waiver to take the SAT/ Act qualify for three waivers of college application fees. See your high school guidance counselor for more information.