The Wake County Public School System is now offering the American College Test (ACT) free of charge to all juniors.
The ACT is an alternative to the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), another standardized test widely accepted by colleges.
“I think it’s great the school is giving us another option for standardized testing. It gives me something else to send to colleges, and to possibly set me apart,” said Maggie Weathington, junior.
Colleges typically try to accept applicants that have a strong and well-rounded application, featuring a variety of extracurricular activities and challenging classes. Taking both tests gives students more of an opportunity to prove themselves to universities.
“I think it’s a way more effective measurement tool than the SAT,” said Zane Weekman, junior. Students typically believe this, as the ACT tests in English, math up to precalculus, science and reading. The SAT, however, tests in reading, math up to algebra 2 and writing. The wording of questions on the two are also slightly different.
“A lot of colleges on the East Coast don’t care about the ACT. ECPI (a technology-oriented university in Virginia) doesn’t check your SAT or your ACT scores; they have their own aptitude test,” said Peter Oertel, junior.
All four-year colleges in the U.S. now accept the ACT, so the number of students taking the test and scores are both rising. On the contrary, the number of students taking the SAT is dropping, as are scores.
“I am using ACT prep books to get ready to take it,” said Weekman. Like the SAT, ACT preparation books are offered at most major book retailers, so students can prepare, both through paper and online practice tests.
With all the evidence behind the ACT, including increased scores and the sheer number of people taking the test, it comes at no surprise WCPSS is now offering it free of charge.
Said Danette Swann, Chair of Special Programs and Test Coordinator, “I feel that advantages of the ACT offered to all juniors in the State of North Carolina are accessibility to all students who financially may not have been able to afford to pay for the test, a fair assessment of college readiness as well as practice taking standardized tests.”