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ACT Gains Popularity Over SAT

Michigan pays for its students to take the ACT exam in their junior year of high school.

The ACT exam is increasingly becoming the top choice for students as their college entrance exam.

The ACT is a national college admissions exam that tests English, mathematics, reading, science and has an optional writing portion. 

Fair Test, the non-profit National Center for Fair and Open Testing that works to end the misuse of standardized tests, reported in 2008 that there was a surge in seniors taking the ACT.

That trend seems to be growing, particularly in Michigan. 

All of Plymouth-Canton Educational Park (P-CEP) students take the ACT. Michigan pays for all students to take the exam in March of their junior year, said Barb Lehmann, Canton High School guidance counselor and P-CEP guidance department leader. 

Why is the ACT more popular?

"The ACT is more popular because we live in the state of Michigan and it’s a graduation requirement for us," Lehmann said.

The ACT exam has become a replacement for high school exit exams and is touted for encouraging more teenagers to consider college.

"Every school in the United States accepts the ACT," Lehmann said. "There are some schools that might prefer the SAT, but they all accept the ACT."

Lehmann said that students prefer the ACT because many stay in Michigan where there's a selection of top universities that do not require the College Board SAT. Another benefit of the ACT is that community colleges in Michigan will use scores for class placement, she said.

"Most four year schools use it as an entrance exam, we don’t. We use it as placement exam," said Laura Leshok, academic adviser at Schoolcraft Community College.

"We look at reading comprehension, English and math. And those are all parts of the ACT," she said.

Low SAT Turnout

Lehmann said P-CEP used to be a test site for the SAT but hasn't done that for about two years. She said less than five percent of P-CEP students take the SAT. 

"The last time is was offered, it was maybe 10 or 15 of our students who took it," she said.

She said they tell students it doesn't hurt to take both exams but there also isn't any harm in not taking the SAT. She said there are many P-CEP students who take Advanced Placement classes and exams, which can supplement their ACT scores when they apply for college. 

Exam Differences

Lehmann said that because the ACT is state-sponsored, a lot of the material is specific to the school's curriculum.

Scoring is also different. On the multiple choice portion of the SAT, one point is given for correct answers, a quarter point is taken for incorrect answers and no points are given for blank answers. There is no penalty for guessing on the ACT

Lehmann said she tells students that, as students in Michigan, they're going to be taking the ACT anyway. 

Aysha Jamali September 27, 2012 at 08:20 PM
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