The Edge Prep Blog
A procedural update pulls the ACT into the 21st century.
The ACT Goes Online
As you may have heard, after a brief delay the ACT is going to be converting to an internet-based test (iBT) format in the near future. This has created a lot of questions regarding which one people should take, what will the new test look like, and how best to prepare if your going to take the new version.
Let's take a quick look at what is changing and what is staying the same.
Staying the Same
The Question Structure
The ACT will maintain its current structure of English, Math, Reading, Science, and the Essay.
The Number of Questions and Time Allowances
Despite the initial announcement stating the new iBT would be an adaptive test, which could have made the total time required on the test variable based on performance, the ACT, at least initially, will be a standard non-adaptive test. This means that you will still have the same 60 questions in math, 40 questions in science, 40 questions in reading, and 75 questions in English as you do in the current format of the test.
In addition, the same time allowances will apply to each of these sections as students currently see.
As mentioned, the primary medium which the test is taken on is changing to iBT format from the current paper-based testpBT ) format. This is being done as a step towards removing the rampant cheating which has caused the last minute cancelation of tests over the years.
The first iteration of the iBT format of the ACT may be a straight port from paper to computer, but ACT.org has stated that they will be moving to an adaptive format similar to that which you see on the GMAT in the coming years. Not only will this be a more secure way to take the test, it will also be a game changer in how you approach the test.
Thankfully, there are test prep providers like The Edge Prep and The Edge Tutors who are not only able to prep for the current test, but also able to better prepare you for the future changes to the format.
For more on the upcoming changes taking place on the ACT you can look at the official ACT blog.
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Are you planning on going to the US or Canada for university, and just found out you need to take the ACT or SAT to gain acceptance? You only need one, so which one should you take?
Here is a Free mini-quiz designed to help you better understand the fundamentals of each test, making the decision to study one or the other easier.
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Want to know how you would do on the SAT? Take our quick SAT quiz and find out. Our crack team at The Edge Prep has put together 10 questions taken from real SAT exams and assigned values to them to give you an idea of how well you'll do.
So go ahead, take ten minutes, and see where you stand.
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Why not senior year? Because your first-semester senior year is likely going to be the most intense and stressful semester of your high school career. You will likely have your hardest classes, club leadership responsibilities, and college applications. During your senior year, getting enough sleep will be a big enough challenge, so why add pressure to perform well on the SAT? Also, if you procrastinated on your SAT studying, you will likely procrastinate on your personal statement writing as well. Take your SAT's early so you can procrastinate on something else!
We understand that most students don't plan ahead enough. Enrollment in SAT classes tends to peak during the summer between junior/senior year and fall of senior year. Despite encouraging high school juniors to start studying earlier, we often don't see these students until they are stressed out a year later. That's understandable. High school juniors are still teenagers and likely to perceive a year in the future as quite long.
One note about taking the SAT your senior year: if you think that you can improve your score by 100+ points, then definitely feel free to take the test again. That is a big enough improvement and worth your time.
In the old days, students taking the SAT incurred a "guessing penalty." If you got a problem wrong, 1/4 of a point would be deducted for each incorrect answer. Painful, huh? This added an element of strategy and gamemanship to the test, but this is no longer a feature of the test. The SAT has gotten soft in its old age.
If your parents are sharing strategies they honed to master the guessing penalty, politely inform them that the SAT no longer has a guessing penalty. This kind of old people rambling will do you no good. There is probably other wisdom your folks can share, this just isn't it.
In conclusion: you should expect to guess on the SAT. Don't leave those bubbles blank!
Don't believe us? OK, we checked with the official sources to make sure. Here is the official word from the College Board itself.
No Penalty for Guessing
On the SAT, you simply earn points for the questions you answer correctly. So go ahead and give your best answer to every question—there’s no advantage to leaving them blank.
-Our friends at Kaplan provide guessing tips.
-Princeton Review also provided a nifty overview of the test changes after the latest version of the SAT was released.