What Does The ACT Measure | Section By Section

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We talk about the ACT, but what is each section supposed to measure from test-takers? Today, let’s answer in a nutshell, what does the ACT measure from students.

What does the ACT measure? Let’s take a quick look at what it is meant to examine in students.

Here’s the latest news on where ACT scores are in 2020.

What The ACT Measures Overall

The ACT is designed to measure what students should already know before entering college.

The test is comprised of four specific subsections and the optional writing test. The subsections are English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science.

Points-wise, each section is scored on a scale of 1-36 points. The final Composite score averages the four subsection scores together and rounds that average to the nearest whole number.

The ACT English Test’s Goal

The ACT English test puts you in the role of author.

The English test assesses your ability to revise and edit a variety of texts. A number of short texts and essays in various genres are provided.

You are asked to answer questions that test your writing and language skills via examining the tests themselves. You don’t need to worry about formulating an opinion, but more about analyzing what’s already in front of you.

ACT Math’s Goal

ACT Math wants to see what skills you’ve acquired through high school.

The ACT Math test is an assessment of skills a typical student should have acquired through junior year in high school. The covered material emphasizes subjects and skills that include basic formulas and computational skills.

You aren’t required to use incredibly complex formulas. However, your score is designed to reflect how well you’d perform in entry-level college Math courses.

ACT Reading’s Main Focus

The ACT Reading test is about using logic and evidence for analysis.

The tested skills include:

  • Ability to read texts carefully
  • Apply logic and reason to text by citing evidence
  • Integrating information across different sources

The questions will ask you to do things like:

  • Identify main ideas
  • Locate and interpret details
  • Understand event sequences
  • Compare information
  • Analyze cause-effect situations
  • Determine meaning through context
  • Analyze point of view
  • Analyze argument claims and evidence

The Reading section questions force you to pull apart texts on every level to understand them.

ACT Science Is All About Analysis

The ACT Science test is all about analysis, logic, and drawing conclusions.

The questions measure your ability to interpret, analyze, evaluate, and reason through problems related to natural science. A variety of passages present scientific scenarios followed by a set of questions.

The actual science content you’re tested on include:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Earth Sciences (Astronomy, Geology, Meteorology)
  • Physics.

Questions will probe your ability to do the following tasks:

  • Recognize and understand concepts related to the passage’s information
  • Critically examine relationships between provided information and hypothesis
  • Generalize conclusions or predictions from given information

As with the other test sections, your ability to examine and interpret information is the biggest skill you need for overall success.

The Optional ACT Writing Test

The Writing test isn’t mandatory but it definitely helps.

The ACT made its writing section optional, just like the new SAT format. However, at Prep Expert, we teach students how to handle it because it’s great practice for college-level writing assignments.

The test is comprised of one writing prompt that lays out a complex issue and provides three different perspectives on it. Students must read the prompt and write an essay that reflects their own perspective on said issue.

In addition to formulating a new position, the essay must also analyze how the student’s own perspective relates to the ones already presented. You can adopt one of the given perspectives as well.

However, your writing must address the issue and how the perspectives interact with each other. Your ability to develop those arguments and clearly state them is what’s at stake here.

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