Wednesday, September 19, 2012

WHAT'S WITH THE A C T?

As you begin exploring options beyond high school, you enter the world of educational jargon...which often uses a series of letters to represent important items or concepts.  One such mysterious example is the ACT, or more simply the "American College Test".  The ACT is an assessment used by colleges to measure student readiness for post-secondary education. It is only one piece of the puzzle that colleges and universities use to piece together a portrait of student applicants when they are evaluating them for admission.  As you begin preparing to move out of high school and on to college you may have lots of questions about the ACT.  Below are the top 10 questions we most often get from students and parents regarding the ACT:

1.  What is the ACT?  The ACT is a standardized exam that measures skills in English, mathematics, reading and science.  It also has an optional writing section.  ACT also collects information from students about educational plans and needs, and provides feedback about potential career fields of interest.

2. Does my child have to take it, and if so, Why?  Students planning to attend a four-year college will be required to submit an ACT or SAT score in order to be considered for admission.  In Ohio the ACT is the test of choice for 95% of students.  Some two-year colleges will also require the ACT for admission to certain programs.  The ACT is NOT required for graduation.

3.  When should my child take the ACT?  ACT recommends testing in the Spring of the junior year.   Spring test dates are available in February, April and June.  Additional fall test dates are available in September, October and December.  These test dates work very well for seniors who may want to take the ACT a second or third time.

4.  How do we get signed up?  Students will need to register for the ACT test online at www.actstudent.org.  New security standards are in place, and students will be required to upload a picture of themselves.  The test fee will need to be paid with a credit card.

5.  How can my student prepare for the ACT? The very best preparation for the ACT is a strong high school curriculum, however, it is also a good idea to look at some practice materials to become familiar with the types of questions and overall format of the test.  Practice tests are available on the ACT website and  in the Guidance Office.

6. Should I take the test a second time?  If a student feels that he/she can improve their score it is a good idea to take the test a second time.  Be realistic in your expectations for improvement.  It is unlikely that your score will go up 5 points, but an increase of 1 or 2 points is not uncommon.  Remember that a higher score is not a guarantee, your score could go down!  Your best plan of action is to do some preparation with a practice test, especially if you did nothing to prepare the first time.

7. Where is the test offered?  The test is offered at Celina High School in September, October, December and April.  If you are testing in February or June you will be able to locate testing centers when you register online.

8.  Should I take the Writing Test?  It is a good idea to take the writing test at least once.  While not a lot of colleges require this test for admission, more and more colleges are using it for placement in classes.  To find out what colleges require the writing test go to:  www.actstudent.org/writing

9.  What if my student is on an IEP?  Students who receive services through an Individualized Education Plan may be eligible for accommodations on the ACT.  Please contact Mrs. Gabes in the guidance office for more information.

10.  What should I bring on test day?  Students will need to print out an admission ticket once they finish the registration process.  Students must present this ticket, along with a picture I.D. to be admitted to the test.  Students will also need a calculator for the mathematics test, and several sharpened #2 pencils.

For more information about ACT testing, college readiness, and career information check out the ACT website at:  www.actstudent.org