07/09/2014 01:18 pm ET Updated Sep 07, 2014

Important ACT Test Information for High School Students

The ACT, the nation's widely used admissions test for colleges and universities is becoming more prevalent across the US and studies show that it is used more than the SAT to evaluate admission. So what is the academic value of taking the ACT test and why should students invest the time studying for it?

Why Take the ACT Test

Since the ACT test is accepted by all 4-year colleges and universities in the United States, being visible to colleges and scholarship agencies is another way to help students get ready for life after high school. In fact, studies show that the ACT is becoming much more prevalent in recent years than the SAT.
Unlike the SAT, The ACT is the only national college admission test based on the number of correct answers--students are not penalized for guessing.

What Skills Does the ACT Test

A multiple choice type test, the ACT evaluates content areas and skills students have acquired during their four years of High School. It is not a pure reasoning test. If a student is being expected to infer information from an academic text in a Science class, then s/he may find an academic text on the photosynthesis or global warming and be expected to answer a bunch of higher level thinking questions like inferencing, sequencing, and summarizing. Click here to read the descriptions for each subject area including the number of questions and time allotted.

Students can expect to find a number of texts on a variety of content-based areas including English, Math, Reading and Science. The Math portion of the test measures skills students have mastered up to the beginning of grade 12.

Each day that students attend class, they are preparing for the ACT. Obviously taking more challenging and academically rigorous classes will prepare a High School student just that much more thoroughly. "Scoring well on the ACT leaves a great first impression to college admissions officers on how well you understood high school materials. It's certainly not the only quantitative criteria but it leaves an enduring impression," says Nathan Aurora, President of, an online tutoring company.

Because not all colleges require a writing test for admission, ACT offers students the choice of whether they want to spend the extra time and money taking the Writing Test. For some students, taking the writing test presents a more complete academic picture of their skills and abilities while others will base their decisions on whether the writing test is required. Click here to read more about colleges and their policies regarding the writing test.

The ACT Isn't Just Another Standardized Test

In addition to providing a diagnostic and study questions, the ACT site also gives students a free resource including an interest inventory and a student profile section that assists them with their journey towards college. Students can create an in-depth profile online which helps with figuring out their majors and career paths. They can opt-in to receive an inventory questionnaire which explains how one's interests, abilities and values can influence their majors and careers. The profile also compares job outlook and salary by state which is especially helpful for those who aren't exactly sure where they want to study.

Although ACT and SAT are not the only reasons in getting accepted into a school of one's choice, it is one universities and colleges continue to use widely heavily and unfortunately, the concept of standardized testing is not going to change in the near future.