A quick overview of the ACT structure:
The ACT is a standardized test; however, the test writers do not give a ‘fixed’ syllabus or reference books for students can to their way through while preparing for the ACT. Content and skills required for the four distinct tests: English, Math, Reading, and Science are given below.
English test syllabus
Punctuation, grammar, usage and syntax, and rhetorical skills are the key language concepts that test takers are required to be thorough with to score well in the English test. Common grammar rules are tested in the form of multiple choice questions, and direct definitions of these grammar rules are not tested. Test takers are asked to select the best way to edit a passage by adding, revising, or deleting portions taking into account a given purpose and judging the relevance of the portions in context.
Other questions require test takers to choose the best order for certain sentences in the interest of style, tone, rhetorical effectiveness, and avoidance of ambiguity, verbosity, and redundancy. Some of these questions often refer to particular sections of the passages, or the passages as a whole.
Math test syllabus
The following content areas from mathematical skills acquired till grade 11 are required for ACT math:
- Elementary algebra
- Intermediate algebra
- Coordinate geometry
- Plane geometry
Mathematical reasoning skills are tested by posing practical problems; hence word problems are common on the ACT. Although a calculator, which conforms to ACT’s calculator policy, is allowed, all the questions on the Math test can be solved without a calculator as neither complex formulas nor extensive computation is required. Students do need to know basic formulae for the content areas mentioned above.
Reading test syllabus
The Reading test measures ability to read and comprehend English text – passages are extracted from or adapted from various sources. Questions may ask what is directly stated or implied in the passage, main idea of a passage, analyze the author’s tone, etc. While passages belong to four genres -- prose fiction, social sciences, humanities, and natural sciences there are no prescribed books that a student can read to prepare for this test. Timed practice with quality material is what’s required – remember correct answers get you the points, understanding passages isn’t enough.
Science test syllabus
Many students have the impression that they need to be great at science to ace the Science test. As with other ACT tests there is no textbook, or fixed syllabus that requires intensive learning of science concepts. This test measures ability to interpret, analyze, and evaluate scientific data. These skills are evaluated in the ACT Science Test by asking questions that test your understanding of the information provided, and your ability to draw conclusions, make predictions, etc.
Writing test syllabus
Essay topics are general and require test takers to present their point of view. They may support, oppose, take a qualified stand, or even present a totally different point of view. The score is not affected by the point of view in the essay. Writing skills and ability to articulate views on the given issue are two key skills required to get a top writing score.
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