The IELTS is currently accepted by around 3,000 U.S. higher education institutions. Unlike the TOEFL, the IELTS is a pen-and-paper English proficiency test available in two formats: Academic and General Training. The Academic TOEFL is the one sometimes accepted as an alternative to the TOEFL test. If you plan on taking the IELTS, make sure you check if your chosen U.S. university accepts it. More details on the test at www.ielts.org. In Romania the test is administered by the British Council www.britishcouncil.org/ro/romania-examene-de-limba-engleza-ielts.htm.
Just like the SAT, the ACT is a standardized admission test designed to examine students’ readiness for college-level work.
The test covers 4 main subject areas: Mathematics, English, Reading, and Science. There is also an ACT Plus version, which includes a 30-minute writing test.
The basic registration fee is $35 for the ACT without the writing test and $50.50 for the Plus version. This fee covers the delivery of a score to up to four universities. More details and additional fees on the official website: http://www.actstudent.org/regist/actfees.html.
Basic differences between the ACT and SAT tests can be found here: http://www.actstudent.org/faq/actsat.html
The ACT includes a total of 215 questions. It is a 3 hour and 30 minutes test, without the added writing section. The test is organized as follows:
• English: 75 questions in 45 minutes;
• Mathematics: 60 questions in 60 minutes;
• Reading: 40 questions in 35 minutes;
• Science: 40 questions in 35 minutes.
Usually the ACT and ACT Plus are administered internationally in October, December, February, April and June, with the ACT Plus unavailable in February. Details on the test and registration dates can be found on the official website: http://www.actstudent.org/
The English Test
The English Test is design to test candidates’ attention and concentration. During this test you will have a few paragraphs to read and then multiple choice questions.
There are two ways of analyzing a candidate’s abilities in this section, so the section carries two subscores: for Usage and Mechanics (punctuation, grammar, sentence punctuation) and Rhetorical Skills (strategy, organization and style).
The Mathematics Test
The ACT Mathematics Test measures a candidate’s basic knowledge of formulas and computational skills. The questions in this section are also multiple-choice.
Test-takers will receive three subscores for the Mathematics Test based on knowledge of algebra, geometry, and trigonometry.
The Reading Test
During this section, test-takers will work with a number of prose paragraphs and multiple questions for each, questions that will allow them to show their capability to understand the main point of each passage, as well as their ability to extrapolate this information.
There are two subscores for this section:
• One in Social Studies (anthropology, archaeology, history, economics, political science,etc) and Sciences (biology, medicine, astronomy, chemistry, geology, physics, etc); and
• One in Arts (short stories or excerpts from short stories or novels) and Literature.
The Science Test
This test is based on knowledge accumulated in fields such as biology, chemistry, physics, and so on. This is also a multiple-choice answer test.
The Writing Test
This optional section is an essay writing test, which measures students’ collage entry-level composition skills. During this section, test-takers will receive a prompt and two points of view. Based on the prompt, they will have to construct their essays from one of the points of view available.
The main four tests are scored individually on a scale of 1–36, and a composite score is provided which is the whole number average of the four scores. For the Writing test, the final score is from 2 to 12.
According to the official website, scores are generally available online within 2 ½ weeks after each national or international test date. Score reports are normally released within 3 to 8 weeks after each test date. If you took the Writing Test, your score reports will be released only after all your scores are available, including Writing, within 5 to 8 weeks after the test date.
An ACT-SAT score concordance table is available on the ACT website at http://www.act.org/solutions/college-career-readiness/compare-act-sat/.
More useful links
Details about the test: http://www.testmasters.net/ActAbout
Official website: http://www.actstudent.org/
Useful FAQs: http://www.actstudent.org/faq/
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