If you’re a junior at a public high school in Colorado, Tuesday, April 23 won’t be a regular school day for you. Rather than attending classes, you’ll spend the morning taking the ACT. I know what you’re thinking: “Oh, great. I get to spend four hours taking a test. What fun!” Listening to your teacher’s boring lecture probably doesn’t seem all that bad in comparison, right?
But look at it this way: this is a chance for you to take an exam that’s required for admission to most of our nation’s colleges and universities, including all the public colleges in Colorado. Even better, it’s free and you don’t have to get up early on a Saturday to take it! Plus, keep in mind that this year you didn’t have to take the TCAP, a test that extends over several days.
Your scores from the Colorado ACT can be used in your applications to colleges. In other words, you can submit these scores just like you would submit scores from a national ACT (an ACT given on a Saturday throughout the country). Your high school will have you complete pre-test materials prior to April 23, and at that time, you can designate up to four colleges to which to send your scores. I generally advise students to send scores to colleges they’re interested in, even if they’re not yet sure they’ll apply to those schools.
Some students are hesitant to send scores before they get their results because they’re afraid they won’t do well. The reality is that most colleges will use your highest scores to make admissions decisions, so even if you take the test again and do better, you really have nothing to lose by sending your Colorado ACT scores. Additionally, if you send scores to colleges after you receive your results, it will cost you $11 per score report, whereas if you sign up to have scores sent before you take the test, there’s no charge.
That being said, if you’re thinking about applying to highly selective schools, you might not want to send your scores before you see them. See Andrea Aronson’s recent blog post, “How Early Should You Take the SAT or ACT?” for more information.
There is one major downside of the Colorado ACT: it doesn’t including the optional Writing section. Many of the more selective colleges require applicants to submit Writing scores, so if you’re planning to apply to these types of schools, you’ll have to take the test again with the Writing section. Unfortunately, this section cannot be taken on its own; rather, you’ll have to take the entire test again. Before signing up for another ACT, check with the colleges you’re considering to see if they require the Writing section.
You should treat the Colorado ACT like any other ACT. Get a good night’s sleep, eat a healthy breakfast (many schools provide breakfast for all students on test day), and come prepared with sharpened #2 pencils and a calculator, if you have one. (If you don’t, check with your school ahead of time to see if you can borrow one on test day.) Be sure to arrive on time, because if you’re late, you won’t be admitted to the test. Most importantly, take the test seriously and do your best!
So what should you do if you wake up on April 23 and don’t feel well? Don’t fret, because if you miss the ACT that day, you can take the make-up ACT on May 7. Your school’s test coordinator probably will track you down soon after the first test to let you know about the make-up test, but in case he or she doesn’t, make sure you find out what time to arrive and where to go on May 7.
Good luck on the test!