When should I guess on an ACT question? What do I do when I am stuck on a question?
The ACT exam presents a large challenge to any student, no matter how competent or accomplished in the classroom they might be. Although not quite the same length as the SAT, the ACT exam still takes over 3 hours at the minimum and features hundreds of questions. The ACT tests you on Trigonometry, Grammar, Rhetoric, Scientific Reasoning, Vocabulary, and Literary Interpretation among other topics. Needless to say, you won’t know the answer to every ACT question.
The question then becomes, what do you do when you encounter a question on the ACT exam that you can’t answer. The ACT is scored by granting a point for each correct answer and by granting no points for each omitted OR incorrect answer choice. This means that it is always worth guessing on the ACT exam because there is effectively no difference between a wrong answer and an omission.
This is certainly an advantage that the ACT has over the SAT, but it’s one that should be used wisely. You still need a guessing strategy on the ACT. Most ACT questions feature five answer choices, either “A” through “E”, or “F” through “K”. The answers to the questions are customarily distributed evenly over all the answer choices. So in the case where you are really making a blind guess, always choose the same letter. In fact, it’s a good idea to designate that letter before you even walk into the ACT exam so you don’t have to spend valuable time thinking about which letter to choose. By always choosing, say A and F, you are guaranteeing that you will get twenty percent of your blind guesses correct on the ACT exam.
How do I get extended time on the SAT test? Is it the same as the ACT Test?
As the SAT Test has evolved the College Board has attempted, as much as possible, to level the SAT Test–taking playing field. The SAT’s takes on as a mission to give as fair as possible a chance for all students to succeed. The College Board awards certain allowances for students in need of extra time, large print tests, computers for writing the essay, and/or a reader, among other things. A lot of misinformation exists about how certain students get these exceptions, so let’s try and set the record straight.
If you feel you require a specific kind of aid on the SAT Test you need to have a professional evaluation and report from a licensed neuropsychologist before registering for the SAT Test. The results of the report will recommend either time and a half (extended time), double time (exactly what it sounds like) over two days, or any other appropriate allowance. Once a neuropsychologist prepares the report, you must submit it to the College Board for consideration. This report must include a specific diagnosis – be it ADD, dyslexia, executive functioning disorder, etc. – and have adequate quantitative and qualitative support for its findings. It usually takes around 10 weeks for the College Board to render a decision once the report has been submitted, so plan ahead and think about what your needs may be as early as possible. If you feel you are a candidate for a special SAT Test condition, do not go to take the SAT Test until you hear back from the College Board.
In our experience at CATES, students may have a bit more difficulty getting extended time on the ACT Test than on the SAT Test. If you find this the case,, and you are awarded extra time on the SAT Test but not the ACT Test, you might want to only take the SAT Test (every extra minute is precious). Either way, we can’t stress enough that if you feel you need extra time on the SAT Test and/or ACT Test, start the process early. In the case of the ACT, you also must register for the test first before applying for extended time. Starting early ensures you’re not racing against the clock, can make the most informed decision possible, and do your best on test day!