Let me tell you a little secret; the ACT sucks. However, the ACT sucks for different reasons than the SAT. It doesn’t matter which test you take. All colleges accept both tests. Either way, let’s jump into the ACT and why it SUCKS!
Section 1 The Grammar Section
75 questions in 45 minutes
This section is a literal grammar marathon.
It breaks down to 5 reading passages with 15 questions each. There are two types of questions asked in this section.
Question type 1: Annoyingly subjective questions like “what sentence belongs in which passage?” or “if the author wanted to put in this statement, should they add it or should they not?” These questions will take approximately 30 precious seconds to answer.
Question type 2: The positive side of this section is that the majority of the questions are Type 2. These are manageable because they deal with tangible concepts such as punctuation, word choice, and verb tense. It will take approximately 5 seconds to answer each of these… if you know your grammar.
For tips on how to conquer this section CLICK HERE.
The Math Section
60 questions in 60 minutes
60 questions in 60 minutes. You will have exactly one minute to answer each question.
I like to call this section the “all four years of high school mega math final” because this section feels like you’re taking a final exam on every math subject ever covered: Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2, Trigonometry and a tiny bit of pre-calc. Oh, and don’t forget Statistics! This sucks.
While that seems overwhelming, it is in fact quite manageable. Every question is a multiple choice. This means if you know what you are doing, there will always be a method to eliminating answer choices.
So, the downside, you ask? There is no short cut when it comes to this section. You MUST know your math because unlike the SAT, the ACT does not provide any formulas on this test. You MUST enter the exam having memorized a minimum of 15 formulas.
CLICK HERE to see how I teach math hacks in my SAT/ACT Boot Camp course.
40 questions in 35 minutes
This section sucks because it is incredibly wordy. The passages are long. The questions are long. The answer choices are even longer.
There are only four passages on the ACT unlike the SAT’s five. This seems nice, however, the ACT's passages are boring, which sucks. This will be a test of your will to remain focused as much as it is a test of your reading comprehension.
That being said, the questions are easy to understand and the answers are straightforward. There are almost always two obviously wrong answers you can eliminate straight off the bat.
40 questions in 35 minutes
Why? Just why? This is what I ask myself every time I am reminded of the science section. It truly embodies the suckiest part of the ACT.
First of all, let us be clear. It is not actually a science section. This section tests your knowledge of chart reading and data analysis. It is that simple. Your prior knowledge of science or lack thereof will not aid you or hurt you respectively. In fact, there are only two questions out of the forty that require outside science knowledge and they are at an eighth-grade level.
The purpose of this section is to try and intimidate you… and be an annoying waste of your time. Especially because after completing Sections 1-3, you have taken the equivalent of a full length SAT test. The science section is extra and you are way tired which way sucks.
Regardless, this section is uber easy to pass. You just have to put in the time to complete practice pages and practice packets to master data analysis. Only then will you realize the science section is truly easy.
CLICK HERE for sample problems and strategies for the science section.
The essay section is thankfully straightforward and not so sucky.
You will be asked to write a five-paragraph essay with a prompt along the lines of: “do you like this/ do you agree with this whole topic?”
The sucky side of the essay section is that the ACT requires you to use three different perspectives. That said, with the right prep, this essay is very easy to write.
CLICK HERE to learn about my SPIT method.
I hope this article helps you find your way through the murky waters of standardized testing. In the end, we all know the ACT and the SAT both suck. Whichever test you choose you must: study, practice and focus and you will persevere. Good luck!
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