College Student Blog

09 May, 2008

More Testing – ACT & SAT

Posted by: Parker In: Admissions

Parker vs. Standardized Testing

I loathe standardized testing. In reflection on my experiences as a test taker, I reaffirmed the notion that standardized testing is nearly worthless.

Standardized testing such as the ACT and SAT are becoming continually less valued by institutions in their admissions process. Amen; schools are finally waking up and noticing that the tests, in general, do not gauge intelligence and practical usage of abilities. /rant off


The “grand-daddy” of them all (tests that is). The ACT is, hands down, the number one most used and accepted test in the college admissions process.

SAT vs ACT usage.

My apologies for the small text. The legend writes that students in the states in blue generally ACT takers. In contrast, students in orange states generally take the SAT.

I will not go into extreme depth on the ACT, as I will eventually form a whole category on standardized testing in the future.

The four subject areas are always in the same order in the test, every year.


The ACT test scores range from 1 to 36, with 36 being a “perfect” score. I say perfect in quotes because a test taker can get a question or two wrong and still achieve a 36. This all depends on the deviation of scores. If the scores form an irregular bell curve, such a possibility exists.

The “composite score,” or final score, is an average of all for subscores from the four subject areas.


The English portion of the test covers writing mechanics and rhetorical skills. The test is 45 minutes and totals 75 questions.

The English test has questions regarding grammatical errors, sentence order within a short article, and author’s tone comprehension skills.


Math (my favorite); for an hour you must wrangle 60 pre-algebra, algebra, geometry, and trigonometry questions. You are allowed to use a calculator, although mine ran out of batteries (be sure to replace yours the day before…). I didn’t find a calculator to be a necessity anyway.


Reading comprehension is the name of the game. For 35 minutes, you read passages and answer 40 questions. The questions consist of four previously published passages, one prose fiction, one social science, one humanity, and one natural science.


A scientific reasoning test that tests more of finding useless trends than possessing any actual scientific knowledge. 35 minutes, 40 questions. Topics include data representation, “research” summary, and conflicting viewpoints.


The writing section is optional, and is not even offered on some testing days. Some colleges require it to be done, most don’t.

This is the one part of the test that is becoming more widely used and looked at.

In truth, this rushed writing process is the bane of college writing. Writing is supposed to be a work of art, requiring endless revisions and enormous amounts of time to think and reason.

Facts & Scores

In 2007, the average ACT score was a 21.1. You will need to add, at minimum, five points onto that score in order to have a change at ivy or “public ivy” schools. The bell curve for 2005 scoring is shown below.



In the next post I will cover the SAT as I did the ACT. I will also be covering some tips and tricks that I learned at the “test prep” courses, as well as my opinion on such courses.

As always, drop me a comment or email if you have a question or concern.

2 Responses to "More Testing – ACT & SAT"

Comment Form