Saturday’s ACT was straightforward, but the Math was difficult for many strong students, which may mean a slightly more forgiving scale for Math. Scales for the Reading and Science will probably be right on; the English might have a harsh scale, since it seemed easy on Saturday.

English

Success here should be right in the wheelhouse of our students. Many questions concerned “balancing” of punctuation. Two of our prime idioms were asked about straight-on. ACT rules prevent me from revealing specifics, but if you haven’t already…memorize our first four pages of Idiom in the ACT English Workbook. For SAT Students, this is almost identical and found in Section 7 of Lesson 8 in our Verbal SAT binder.

One new question type asked, “how can the writer make this sentence more vivid?” The right answer replaced an ordinary generality with specific details, as in “the frescoes were designed with a lot of hard work” to “the artist designed the frescoes with intricately colored hues and elaborately detailed animal depictions.” We speak about making one’s writing more vivid in our Essay section, but have yet to invoke this in our Grammar lessons.

Avoiding redundancy was tested on at least five questions. Again, our serious students should have felt good about the English section.

Math

Perhaps not so good. There was an elaborate, heretofore unseen, type of arithmetic question that came up early (question 6 of 60). It demanded at least 90 seconds of most students and we know that can throw students, since most early questions are meant to be done in under 1 minute.

We cannot publish specifics now, but it will get worked into our exercises for students taking the fall ACT. We can say that students who arm themselves with a good ACT “Game Plan” typically are undaunted by one time-consuming question. They know that the test can’t be filled with them and then move on to stomp the questions that follow. An early question that plagues you is not a derailment if you use this “push to greatness” engine.

There were only two trigonometry questions; that’s as low as we have seen. There was one logarithm question and one matrix question. No high-level exponent questions, no need for the Quadratic Equation and only one intricate quadratic polynomial. This was another test where the calculator was not necessary and not even helpful if a student already does 2-digit by 2-digit multiplication quickly. Two triangle answers invoked the term “scalene.”

In short, this ACT Math gave more evidence of a “Math Reasoning” test than ever before. Reasoning was the hallmark of the pre-2016 SAT. This seems like a deliberate move by the ACT in the Reasoning direction. If so, it’s a winning direction – math reasoning, instead of intricate math, is the better way to judge students whose 11th grade curriculum doesn’t include trigonometry, high level functions or polynomials.

Reading

The ACT Reading was straightforward, with a standard mix of Fiction, Science, Social Science and Humanities. It included an awful-to-read passage by an idealistic author, but the questions and answers seemed pretty clear-cut.

Over the last two years, the ACT Reading has been the source of the highest scores for most of our students. We do not know if this is a national phenomenon and, even if it is, whether colleges even acknowledge it.

Science

This test had a standard six experiments. As always, they gave way too much information for a student to attempt to truly understand. But, as always, very little understanding is needed on ACT Science to get its questions right.

Two science questions demanded science knowledge from outside the test – on dominant and recessive genes.

Essay

The essay concerned a very delectable topic: The fairness of celebrities’ loss of privacy. One of the three perspectives seemed very easy to reject with just common sense about the world. Our students should have been able to give lots of supporting or refuting details about the three perspectives.

We look forward to hearing from you once you receive your scores. In the meantime, presume things were good and enjoy the onset of summer.