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Suniti's Advice Corner

Should You Take the ACT Again?

Posted by Suniti Mathur on Mon, May 23, 2016

How many times have you walked out of an exam or test and thought "I would do so much better if I could take that test again..." ? The ACT is a test where you can do exactly that. Standardized testing shouldn't be a never ending process. However, unless you scored a 36 on your first ACT attempt, we recommend that you should take it at least once more. 

57% of students who take the ACT more than once get higher scores (source: ACT, Inc). goodbetterbest.jpgWhile you can take the ACT up to 12 times (please don't do that), we suggest you take it 2 or 3 times to get the best possible score. You can then decide which ACT attempt is reported to colleges/universities. No university will penalize you for retaking the ACT - the higher your score, the better it is. 

Do you have the ACT score that will get you into your top choice school and earn you scholarship money? Though it may not seem like a lot, a 1 to 2 point increase in your score can lead to an acceptance letter or a scholarship offer. (TestRocker's average ACT score improvement is 4 points and 78% of our students received scholarship offers in 2016!)
The good news about retaking the ACT:

You don't have to study as much as you did the first time! This time, your preparation should be more targeted because your score report identifies your weaknesses. Or, you can take a Free Diagnostic Test and instantly view your areas of improvement. Score improvements don’t come from repeatedly taking full-length tests; they come from targeting the weaknesses and solidifying your concepts. 

You already know what to expect! The next time you take the ACT, you will feel less anxious and more confident because you know what to expect. This increased confidence will also aid in increasing your score. You know what went well for you, and more importantly, what didn't. There is time to fix the areas where you struggled. 
Speak to our Experts for Free: Receive an in-depth score analysis of your last ACT score report and a plan on how to improve your ACT score:
I Want to Speak to an Expert!


Tags: For Students, For Parents, For Counselors

What You Need to Know About the PreACT

Posted by Suniti Mathur on Wed, Mar 23, 2016

Its official: With the roll out of the Redesigned SAT and the new PreACT, 2016 isPreACT.jpg
undoubtedly the year of standardized testing. We all know about the PSAT (the SAT’s little brother); in 2016, we will get to meet ACT’s little sibling: the PreACT. Here are some questions answered about the new test:

What is the PreACT?

The PreACT is a new assessment that will provide college and career readiness information to students at younger ages, similar to the PSAT. The test will mimic the official ACT in terms of scoring, skills tested & content. 

  • It is going to consist of questions from old official ACT tests.
  • It will be scored on the same scale (1-36), but it won’t contain the writing section, since it is optional on the official test.

Who will take the PreACT? When is the PreACT?

The test is going to be available to students in the 10th grade through schools and districts who choose to offer the test beginning the Fall of 2016.

Why is the PreACT important?

Test Readiness Indicator – The test is important because it will give you a good indication of what kind of score you’re starting out with. Moreover, it will serve as a wake up call to show you the rigor of the test in realistic testing conditions. You will get a first hand experience with proctors, timed sections, test breaks and all of the other factors that go into your test day experience.

College Opportunities & Scholarship Access – According to ACT, Inc. students who register for the PreACT will be able to opt in, for free, to Educational Opportunity Service (EOS). The service has the ability to make your data available to 1500+ colleges and scholarship/financial aid groups. The same opt-in option is available when you take the official ACT.

How long is the PreACT?

The test will be less than 1 hour and 55 minutes long (it contains fewer questions than the official ACT).

Should I prepare for the PreACT?

YES! Even the official PreACT test makers say you should be prepared. Why? It is a simple answer: think of a test you took unprepared vs. one you took prepared. Which did you feel better about? Going in to a test prepared leads to better performance and reduced anxiety. However, you don’t need to prepare for the PreACT endlessly. It is important to prepare in a targeted manner; find your conceptual weaknesses, learn and work through them and finally test yourself in a timed condition. 

Overwhelmed? Don't be. Take it step-by-step. To understand your strengths and weaknesses, take this free diagnostic test. You will instantly be able to view your customized study plan so that you can prepare smarter and more effectively. 

Start My Free Diagnostic Test  

Tags: For Students, For Parents, For Counselors

How to Secure Testing Accommodations for the ACT or SAT

Posted by Suniti Mathur on Tue, Feb 09, 2016

SAT/ACT accomodation

If your student has a disability, it is imperative that you look into testing accommodations for him/her. However, before you apply for an accommodation, familiarize yourself with the types of accommodations available and the timing of your request.

Who Qualifies for SAT/ACT Accommodation?

Today, more students, than in any previous years, are being granted accommodations because they have been diagnosed with learning disabilities. However, being diagnosed is just the first step. To qualify for an accommodation, a person must present formal evidence of a disability provided by an authorized assessment.

For students in public school, families can work with the school disability coordinator or a school psychologist to get psychological testing, assess the results and enact interventions that are defined in either the 504 plan or Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Parents of students in private schools may seek self-governing evaluations from licensed neuropsychologists because private schools are not obliged to administer testing.

In addition, the student must show a history of receiving accommodations at his/her school for a stretch of at least 4 months in the case of the SAT and 12 months in the case of the ACT. To show a history of receiving accommodation, you might have to work with your student’s teacher to include documentation or letters describing the accommodation that was provided.

What does SAT/ACT Accommodation Look Like?

The look of each accommodation depends on the type of accommodation needed and varies on a case-by-case basis. Some examples include, requesting a reader or a scribe, a quiet testing room, enlarged print test booklets and answer keys, additional or extended breaks, the use of a computer, and multiple-day testing. It is important to be as specific as possible when making a request regarding the type of accommodation that will be most helpful. These accommodations are endorsed for range of disabilities, all the way from mild to moderate LDs, including anxiety, ADHD and slight visual processing issues to more severe learning disabilities such as dyslexia, major visual impairment and dyscalculia.

The most common type of accommodation granted to a student is 50% extended testing time. At TestRocker, we believe students benefit from this accommodation and it is worth pursuing if your student qualifies. However, a 50% time extension translates to 5 hours and 45 minutes on the SAT with Essay, and can make testing day a test of endurance. To circumvent this, make sure you help your student practice for the SAT/ACT with extended time. TestRocker’s test prep programs give students the option to practice with 50% increased time. Such a realistic timed practice will help students keep their stamina and energy up right till the end on actual test day.

The Application Process

In general, the best way to get accommodation approval is to work with your school. Your school can apply for the accommodation online for the SAT. If you were to do it yourself, you would have to submit a paper application. The table below shows the application process for both ACT and SAT





Complete one of these forms with your school's SSD coordinator:

Request for ACT Special Testing

Application for ACT Extended–Time National Testing

Complete the Student Eligibility Form with your school's SSD (Services for Students with Disabilities) Coordinator. You will be provided a parent consent form to sign as well.


The deadline is typically four weeks to the test date. So get this done as early as possible.

Do this as early as possible, if possible in the spring before the year the test is to be taken.


Time taken

The ACT takes about four weeks to review your information

The College Board can take up to seven weeks to review your information

Next Steps

It will be noted on the admission ticket that you will get in the mail if you are approved for extended-time. You will as well be notified by mail if you are accepted for other testing accommodations.

You will get an Eligibility Letter. This letter will describe the accommodations for which you have been approved and in the letter, there will be inclusion of an SSD Eligibility Code.


Submit your request with the regular registration packet to request extra time. To appeal other accommodations, make sure you submit the application for special testing before submitting the regular registration packet.

When you register for the test, use your SSD Eligibility Code.


Should my student sit for the ACT or SAT

In our experience, timing is more of an issue for those students who take the ACT, even for those who don’t have a learning disability. This is because the ACT has 215 questions versus 154 questions on the SAT that have to be completed in the roughly the same amount of time. Given that the tests have relative scoring, being granted extended time on the ACT gives a student more of an advantage.

Another instance where getting extended time (50%) on the ACT is more beneficial than the SAT is when you are allowed to take the test over multiple days. Taking the test over multiple days helps students feel rested. It also allows students to focus their review only on the sections they are sitting for. Testing over multiple days in normally granted to students taking the ACT outside the United States or Canada. Students taking the test in the United States can also be approved for multiple day testing if they request special testing at their school (instead of at a national testing center). The threshold for being allowed to take the SAT over multiple days is much higher. You need to be granted 100% extra time (not just 50%) and request special testing at school.

 An important consideration when deciding between the two tests is to see which type of test the student is stronger at. There is a difference in content and type of questions between the two tests. Learn more about the differences here. A painless way to compare performance on the two tests is to take TestRocker’s free SAT and ACT Diagnostic tests. Bottom line is, getting more time on either tests is useful and should definitely be pursued.

This article is meant to serve as a general information guide for those planning on requesting for accommodation. You should review ACT and College Board’s website for most up to date information.

Tags: For Students, For Parents

Understanding Your 2015 PSAT Score

Posted by Suniti Mathur on Fri, Jan 08, 2016

The cat is out of the bag! 2015 PSAT scores were released online on January 7th. If you took this PSAT, you were amongst the first students to experience the new changes. Here are answers to some popular questions we get from students and parents about the PSAT report.
 Why are PSAT scores important, and what if I didn’t score well?

 Your PSAT score is a predictor of how you would perform on the SAT if you took it today. Honestly, the score should serve as a realization that the college application process is starting, and that its time to get serious.

Many school counselors will also use your PSAT scores to give you an idea of the kinds of schools you should think of applying to. It definitely acts as a good place to start, but don’t let your PSAT score deter you from aiming high for those “reach” schools. 

Our advice: don’t get discouraged if your score isn’t as high as you expected. With the correct planning, preparation and hard work, you can aim to raise your score by 200 points when you actually take the SAT.

Do colleges and universities see my PSAT scores?

Breathe! Universities do not receive your PSAT scores. The only people with access to your scores are you, your school & district (probably the counselor), your parents (if you choose to share with them, which we think you should), and the National Merit Scholarship folks who will see if qualify.


What do my PSAT scores mean? 

There is a lot of information in your PSAT score report. Here’s what you need to know:

Total Score: This is the number that tells you how you did on the PSAT, and approximately what you would score if you took the SAT today. It is the combination of your Evidence-Based Reading & Writing + Math sections. Each of the two sections is out of 760, for a total maximum score of 1520. The SAT will be out of 1600 (800 for each section).

Additional Test Scores: This area tells you how you performed on Reading, Writing & Language and Math. Our advice: Don’t worry too much, it is just providing you with additional information. Same goes for the cross-test scores.

What is the College & Career Readiness Benchmark?

Under each score on the first page of your score report, you will see a multi-colored red, orange and green line. The vertical black line is where you fall on that line/scale. The benchmark shows whether you are on track to be ready for first year college courses. Scores in Green show that you meet or exceed the benchmark. Orange shows that you’re almost there but still need a bit more work, and red shows that you need to improve significantly in that area.

Did I qualify for the National Merit Scholarship?

National Merit Scholarship Index (NMSC Selection Index) – go to this section to see if you meet the entry requirements. If there is an asterisk next to the score in the NMSC Selection Index section, that means you didn’t qualify.

Now that I understand my PSAT score, what should I do next?

If you are going to be applying to universities next semester, it is time to get serious. Your SAT/ACT prep is going to be the first step in your college application process. Here are a few pointers:

  1. Spend time reading your PSAT Skill Insights area. You will get a good understanding of things you can do to improve your score.
  2. Understand why the SAT/ACT tests are important. 
  3. Create a test taking plan with your parents.
  4. Need help creating your test-prep plan? Get a free customized study plan and consultation.


 You also might like:

How to Support your Child Through the Test Prep Process

Discouraged by your PSAT Score? Tips and Advice

Tags: For Students, sat, psat

Should I take the January 2016 SAT?

Posted by Urvashi Mathur on Thu, Dec 17, 2015

The current SAT is going to be discontinued after January 2016. This is not new information. However, if you are a currently in 12th or 11th grade, you should seriously consider taking the SAT in January. Here's our advice based on which grade you are in right now:

12th Graders (Class of 2016) - Take the SAT in January if you are applying Regular Decision. Some universities will accept your January test scores! Benefits are simple: 1) a better score leads to a better chance of being considered for acceptance. 2) a better score can lead to higher scholarship amounts. 

Question: Will my university of choice accept January SAT scores? 
Answer: Many universities will. The best way to know for sure is to check on the university website. Here are a few examples of universities that accept Jan scores:

See Full List of which top 20 Colleges accept JAN SAT scores←

11th Graders (Class of 2017) - Take the SAT in January if you have previously prepared for or taken the current SAT. Don't let the work you have already done to prepare for the current SAT go to waste. If you choose to take the Redesigned SAT at a later date, you can send in whichever scores you think are best. Prepare over December break, take the January SAT (be a part of history!) and get your testing out of the way. There is no downside here. 

Question: Will universities accept current SAT scores even for the Class of 2017?
Answer: Absolutely. ALL universities will accept your current SAT scores when you apply next year. This information is openly available on all university websites. In fact, some universities have even stated that they will accept the Current SAT scores for up to 5 years from the date of the test. Don't belieave us? Here is a quote from the University of Chicago admissions website: "We will continue to accept scores from the old version of the SAT for the five years scores remain valid." 

If you've decided to take the January SAT, your test is just about a month away. If you're feeling like there isn't much you can do to prepare at this point, we are here to tell you that's not true! You can still do a lot to get the highest possible SAT score. To help you get there, we have created a 3 week prep calendar. Follow this calendar and you will be ready to rock the current SAT, one last time, in 3 weeks.

And remember, TestRocker is completely online, so you can prep for the SAT whenever you want, wherever you want. Good luck!


Click to Download the Calendar




Are you ready to rock the test? 

Get Started!

 Which Top 20 Colleges Accept January SAT Scores?

Top 20 Colleges

Accept JANUARY 23rd SAT scores?

Accept Feb 6th ACT Scores?

Admission Deadline

1.     Princeton



January 1 2016

2.     Harvard University



January 1 2016

3.     Yale University



January 1 2016

4.     Columbia University



January 1 2016

5.     Stanford University



January 3 2016

6.     University Of Chicago



January 1 2016

7.     Massachusetts Institute Of Technology



January 1 2016

8.     Duke University



January 3 2016

9.     University Of Pennsylvania



January 5 2016

10. California Institute Of Technology



January 3 2016

11. John Hopkins University



January 4 2016

12. Dartmouth University



January 1 2016

13. Northwestern University



January 1 2016

14. Brown University



January 1 2016

15. Cornell University



January 2 2016

16. Vanderbilt University



January 1 2016

17. Washington University St. Louise



January 15 2016

18. Rice University



January 1 2016

19. University Of Notre Dame



January 1 2015

20. University Of California Berkeley



November 30 2015

 You also might like:

Your Guide to SAT Test Day

Staying Calm on Test Day

5 Things You Shouldn't Do Before Your SAT Test

Tags: For Students, sat

Five Types of U.S. College Summer Programs Worth Considering

Posted by TestRocker Team on Tue, Dec 01, 2015

U.S. College Summer Programs.jpg

Summer is a time that offers endless of opportunities: students have the option of recharging and the possibility of finding a program that offers the opportunity to engage, learn something new, and be inspired. For those of us who are life-long learners the summer possibilities are endless. But how can we decide how best to spend a summer break?

It is important that before finally deciding on what to do in the summer, you take time to reflect on what do you hope to get out of it. Do you want to use the summer as a reflective period? If so, spending time away from technology and social media might be the right choice for you. I used to spend part of my summers in a secluded area in southern Mexico learning about nature, reading novels, and putting into practice what I had learned in my botany class by collecting all sorts of leaves. At the same time, I combined my summers with a two to four week summer program to learn new mathematical concepts. While, there is not a one-size-fits-all for the summer experience, this time of the year allows you to push yourself out of your comfort zone, improve your learning muscle and discover a new interest that can potentially change what you hope to do during your college years.

One of the best ways to engage in self-discovery is to spend time in a college campus to determine if a given subject area is the one you would like to explore further when committing yourself at a four-year institution or if that particular institution is one you want on your college list.

  1. Junior and Senior Programs:  If you are interested in choosing thought-provoking courses that will help you develop your critical thinking, analytical, and presentation skills while providing you with new lenses for viewing the world, this is a great fit for you. Furthermore, you will have an opportunity to experience undergraduate life both inside and outside the classroom in a college campus. Some great alternatives are: Wellesley Pre-College Program ; Harvard Pre-College Program ; Notre Dame Summer Scholars ; Washington University in Saint Louis ; Carnegie Mellon.   Applications for some of these programs usually open in November and spots fill up quickly. Make sure to apply early.

  1. Writing Programs: One of the ways to succeed in college and the world is by having superb writing skills. Hence, these programs will allow you to get ready for most of your summer courses while honing your writing abilities to excel in the profession of your choice. Some great options are: Boston University Summer Challenge; Lake Forest College Writing and Thinking Workshop; Northwestern Medill School of Journalism Cherub Program; Carleton College Summer Writing Program.
  1. Engineering Programs: These programs are ideal if you are interested in exploring the academic and career opportunities in the various fields of engineering; apply your knowledge of math and science; get hands-on experience in engineering projects; or conduct university-laboratory research under a faculty mentor. Washington University in Saint Louis Pre-Engineering Institute ; Cornell Engineering ; University of Notre Dame Introduction to Engineering ; Johns Hopkins University Engineering Innovation Program.
  1. Business Programs: Perhaps you are interested in developing your entrepreneur interests in a close knit community while developing a real venture of your own; honing your teamwork and communication skills in the business setting; or finding out more about how to understand sport as a business. If so, you may wish to explore the following possibilities: Babson College Entrepreneurial Development Experience ; Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania Leadership in the Business World Program ; Ithaca College Introduction to Sports Management .
  1. Leadership Programs: If you are someone with outstanding leadership skills interested in a career in global diplomacy or intrigue by the possibility of connection with future world leaders, these two programs offer an outstanding opportunity to reach this goal: Georgetown University International Relations Program for High School Students ; University of Notre Dame Global Issues .

The most important thing when discerning a summer program is to keep in mind that this endeavor is a way for you to discover yourself, to learn about new interests, or decide to follow an alternate path. Whatever you do, do not pick a program thinking it will guarantee you acceptance at a given school, but look at it as an opportunity to learn and when completing your college application think about how this summer experience has changed you and how has prompt you to further explore certain possibilities during your time in college. Do not forget to meet the application deadlines for the summer programs!


About the Author: 

Linkedin_1.jpgAdela Penagos, PhD, Futuro Enlightened's President, has 16 years of academic advising, teaching, and admissions experience between Harvard University, the University of Notre Dame, and Boston College allowing her to help students not only to be admitted to college or graduate school but to find success in college and beyond. She has a wealth of experience guiding students to put forth the best possible application for undergraduate, graduate, law, and medical programs and to excel once into the program of choice.  She is passionate about helping students reach their potential.

 Adela has a BA in Modern Languages from Knox College, cum laude, an MA in Spanish Literature from the University of Notre Dame, and a PhD in Hispanic Language and Literatures from Boston University.  She is fluent in Spanish, English, and French and has lived in Mexico, France, and the United States.

Adela Penagos is a college admissions expert and can be contacted directly at:  apenagos@futuroenlightened.com


Tags: For Students, For Parents, College Applications

How to Prepare for the December ACT in 3 Weeks

Posted by Urvashi Mathur on Thu, Nov 19, 2015

Are you taking the ACT on December 12th?

If yes, your test is just about 3 weeks away! If you're feeling like there isn't much you can do to prepare at this point, we are here to tell you that's not true! You can still do a lot to get the highest possible ACT score! To help you get there, we have created a 3 week prep calendar. Follow this calendar and you will be ready to rock the ACT in 3 weeks.

And remember, TestRocker is completely online, so you can prep for the ACT whenever you want, wherever you want. Good luck!


Click to Download the Calendar




Are you ready to rock the test? 

Get Started!



You also might like:

Your Guide to SAT Test Day

Staying Calm on Test Day

5 Things You Shouldn't Do Before Your SAT Test

Tags: For Students

Free Test Prep Services Are Costly To Students

Posted by Suniti Mathur on Tue, Oct 13, 2015

Free test prep is costly

Improving ACT and SAT scores even slightly can make a major difference when it comes to meeting admissions requirements and qualifying for scholarships. Not surprisingly, then, high school students often take steps to study specifically for such tests. Some simply take advantage of ACT and SAT test prep sessions offered at their high schools. Outside of school, free test prep services
--typically offered online--are among the most popular ways to go. Are they "worth it" though? They may not cost money, but they cost time. Unfortunately, many students come away feeling like they wasted theirs and wish they'd invested money in other test prep services.

 It Always Pays to Prepare for the ACT and SAT

Whether a student is naturally gifted at taking tests or tends to struggle with them, it's always a good idea to prepare for the ACT and SAT. Merely being a good test taker isn't enough; students need to have a strong grasp of the material. The most successful test takers have familiarized themselves with the content and format of these tests through extensive practice, which reduces their anxiety and allows them to focus on the task at hand. Here's the thing though: Just any test prep service won't do, and free ones rarely deliver the results students deserve.

Free Test Prep Services: Popular but Less Effective

Everyone likes to save money, so it makes sense that students and their parents often start out by exploring free test prep options online. It's safe to say that such services' popularity is almost exclusively due to the fact that they don't cost a dime. Just because something is popular doesn't mean it's high in quality. Considering how much is on the line with SAT and ACT testing, it's well worth it to invest actual money into preparing for it.

Learn First, Practice Second

Even bright students can perform poorly on standardized tests because they have fundamental gaps in their understanding of the content. Taking free tests online repeatedly without any feedback about how or why questions are being answered incorrectly doesn't tend to work. Students merely learn how to answer those specific questions correctly. On TestRocker there are over 3000 videos focused on teaching content alone. Even the practice questions come with video explanations from a top private tutor so that students can understand why they are getting questions wrong and quickly recall tough concepts on test day.

A Human Touch Still Matters

Many would argue that free online test prep services are every bit as good as ones that cost money. The main thing they lack, however, is perhaps the most valuable thing of all: customer service. What if a student gets stuck on a question? Is there any tutor support available? What about the technical aspect of the program? Can the student receive technical support 24x7 to ensure there is no interruption in their test prep? Needless to say, free test prep services very often don't include any kind of service, and it's their biggest flaw.

Get Actual Feedback with TestRocker

It's understandable for parents to be wary about investing large amounts of money in test prep services. However, the price of test prep services tends to be more affordable than most people assume. For example, TestRocker, offers a free trial and then charges a one time fee of $699 for unlimited access. Students can prepare for multiple test attempts after paying this one time charge. Compared to group classes, which can be $1000+ or private tutors who charge $40+/hour, TestRocker is quite affordable. Considering what it brings to the table--technical support, customer support and two hand-graded essays returned within 48 hours--it's well worth it too. With this service, students get that last, crucial puzzle piece that's needed to earn higher scores on these important tests.

There's No Such Thing as Free

At the end of the day, so-called free online test prep services aren't free at all. They still require substantial time commitments, and the return on that investment of time is disappointing. With paid-for test prep services like TestRocker, students receive guidance and feedback, which lets them study more effectively and efficiently. They get far more out of their sessions in shorter periods of time, and they tend to enjoy better test scores too. Considering how much money they can save later in the form of scholarships, there's no doubt about it: Free test prep services are costly to students.



You might also find these blogs useful:

Why is the SAT/ACT important?

Developing a test prep plan with your teen

Five questions to ask when selecting a test prep method

Tags: test prep

Why is the SAT/ACT important?

Posted by Suniti Mathur on Tue, Sep 29, 2015

why is the SAT/ACT important?


Lately, many students have asked us why the SAT/ACT tests are important. We realized that while students are always told they have to take the tests, no one has really explained why! There are many reasons, but here are three few really good ones:


The first line of defense:

University admissions officers receive thousands of applications each year. Each application is evaluated by a human being, and there are only so many hours in the day. So, they need to narrow down their piles of applications to the really serious contenders. The quickest way for them to do so is to look at GPAs and SAT/ACT scores. If your scores aren’t competitive, your application could end up in the denied pile even before your essays, recommendations etc. get read.

Proof in Numbers:

GPAs and SAT/ACT scores provide a glimpse into how you will perform with the rigor of courses once you get accepted into University. By the time you apply for college, your GPA is not going to change too much. However, your SAT/ACT score has a lot of room for improvement! By increasing your score, you can show university admissions officers that you are capable of working hard, performing well in stressful situations and learning a large amount of content in a short period of time.

Money, Money, Money:

Universities award millions of dollars in financial aid every year. Merit-based scholarships are awarded to students with high test-scores and achievements.

 The SAT/ACT tests are of course, just a part of your entire college application. While high test-scores alone will not get you accepted, low SAT/ACT scores can be the reason you don’t get accepted.

If you haven't submitted your applications yet, there is still time to improve your scores. Sign up for a planning session so that we can help you cross the first line of defense! 


You might also find these blogs useful:

Scared of the SAT/ACT?
SAT vs ACT Webinar: Which Test is Right for You?
The Content and Structure of the New SAT
The top 4 reasons to take both the SAT and ACT


Tags: For Students, For Parents

New ACT Essay: What you Need to Know

Posted by Suniti Mathur on Fri, Aug 28, 2015

The New ACT Essay Section: Your questions answered

Image Courtesy of David Coleman

The ACT is shaking things up by changing the essay section. 

Before you freak out, read this summary and wepromise you will feel better and more prepared! TestRocker Students: Once you have read the below, make sure you log back in to TestRocker and submit your two ACT essays (located in the Full Length Tests). We will send you feedback to help you improve. Essays must be submitted at least 1 week before your test date. Not a TestRocker student? Enroll now to take advantage of our essay grading/feedback service!

How is the ACT Essay section changing?

The ACT Writing section is changing in the following ways:

  1. Allotted Time

    You will now have 40 minutes to complete the essay. The old essay allotted time was 30 minutes. This is because you now need to spend more time to plan and compose your essay. 

  2. Topic

    The old essay topics were about controversies around school-related issues. Eg. School uniforms – should schools have them or not. The new essay topics will focus on contemporary real-world issues beyond school. Eg. Public health vs. Individual Freedom.

  3. Perspective/Reasoning

    The old ACT essay would prompt you to take a stance for or against the issue. The new essay will give you three perspectives about the issue and ask you to develop an argument taking these three perspectives into consideration, and to explain your perspective in relation to the perspectives provided. 

  4. Scoring

    The old ACT essay was scored on a scale of 2 – 12. The New ACT essay will be scaled, so you will receive a score out of 36 (like the other ACT sections.)

When will the new ACT Essay section replace the current one?

The old ACT essay is officially gone – so any of you taking the ACT with Writing from September 2015 onwards will see the new ACT Essay.

What does a sample prompt and example response look like?

Good question! We have created a Sample Essay Response to one of the New ACT Essay prompts. To download the attachment, simply click here:

View Sample Essay Now!


Tags: For Students

About Suniti

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Suniti is the creator of TestRocker, an online learning platform that helps you unlock your dream SAT and ACT scores. TestRocker is based on Suniti’s highly successful and proven method of teaching students how to maximize their SAT and ACT scores, a method she has perfected through tutoring thousands of students globally for more than a decade. 

TestRocker is a one of a kind online SAT/ACT program that empowers students to take control of their test preparation. After taking our diagnostic test a customized study plan, individualized to students' strengths/weaknesses, allows them to track progress as they work through the program. Each of the 1,200 SAT & 2000 ACT questions on TestRocker are accompanied by video explanations from Suniti. Parents are able to track their child’s progress through biweekly reports.

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