What You Need to Know About the PreACT and ACTAugust 8, 2022
If you’re a high school student or parent, you’ve probably wondered about the process of college applications. Standardized tests play a big role in admissions, and high scores can help secure valuable scholarships.
The PreACT and the ACT are two common standardized tests for high school students, but they’re very different — and have very different uses. Continue reading to learn about these exams and which is the right exam for you.
What Is PreACT?
The PreACT is a standardized test that 10th-grade students can take to gain exam experience. It provides information on how they may perform on the ACT and an overview of their career readiness. This is a great way to identify strong academic areas, as well as opportunities to study and grow.
The PreACT has four sections:
Students will receive a score ranging from one to 35, with 35 being the best possible score. According to the Princeton Review, the PreACT isn’t used in the college admissions process. However, your scores may be useful when applying for scholarships or internships.
What is the ACT?
Like the SAT, the ACT is a standardized exam for high school students.
Like the PreACT, the ACT covers English, reading, science, and mathematics. It also has an optional essay component. The ACT does not factor the writing section into the composite score, but some states and colleges require or recommend that students take it.
The ACT is scored on a scale of one to 36. The writing portion is scored separately; the scale is two to 12, with 12 being the highest possible score.
Do You Have to Take the ACT?
In some states, completing the ACT — and meeting a certain score requirement — is a requirement to graduate high school. In others, the test is optional, but many students take it as part of the college admissions process.
PreACT vs. ACT: What Are the Differences
Although the PreACT and the ACT share some similarities, there are several key differences:
- Exam contents: Although both exams cover English, reading, mathematics, and science, the PreACT does not have an essay component.
- Year of completion: The PreACT is typically taken in the 10th grade, while high school juniors and seniors generally take the ACT.
- Length: The PreACT is shorter than the ACT. It takes 2.5 hours to complete. By contrast, the ACT takes 3.5 hours (four hours if the student completes the writing exam, too).
- Testing availability: To take the PreACT, students must sign up through a participating school. The ACT allows students to take the test at any eligible testing center.
- Uses: Colleges may require the ACT as part of the college admissions process. By contrast, colleges don’t consider the PreACT; it’s simply a way for students to gauge their college preparedness and gain experience with standardized tests.
Preparing for Standardized Tests
Your performance on standardized tests can affect your chances of getting into your dream school and your eligibility for merit-based financial aid. To do as well as possible, follow these tips:
- Register in advance: Your high school may offer the PreACT. If it doesn’t, you may be eligible to take the exam at a nearby school; talk to the school guidance counselor about available options. For the ACT, you must register for the exam in advance.
- Study ACT prep guides: PreACT and ACT preparation materials are available to teach you what to expect on the exams and what material is typically covered. Full practice exams are available for the ACT, while more limited materials – PDFs and PowerPoints – are available for the PreACT, as it’s intended as a practice exam.
- Take online courses: ACT, the organization that offers the exams, has online courses you can use to familiarize yourself with the tests and learn test-taking strategies. They’re self-paced so that you can complete them on your own schedule.
- Consider hiring a tutor: If you need extra help, an ACT tutor can be a good investment. Individual tutoring sessions led by experts can provide personalized recommendations and assistance.
- Get plenty of rest: The night before the exam, go to bed early and get plenty of sleep. Being well-rested will ensure you’re at your best when you take the exam.
After you complete the PreACT or ACT, you can start thinking about the next steps in paying for college. Be sure to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and explore financial aid opportunities like scholarships and grants.