What Your ACT Scores Mean to Higher Education
The standards set forth from American College Testing (ACT) still play a key role in your academic future, at least in the eyes of many colleges and universities across the country. While you may understand some of the importance of these numbers from your perspective, higher education takes a longer term approach to what your individual results mean for you moving forward. The more you know about those implications, the more seriously you will be likely to take test preparation.
Accepted or not
The first thing that your ACT results can determine is whether you’re in or whether you’re out. Generally speaking, public colleges and universities are pretty lenient in terms of acceptance. The exception would be Ivy League schools – Dartmouth, Yale, Harvard, Columbia – and a few of the other more discriminating institutions throughout the United States. In other words, don’t expect to get in to Yale with a 19 or a 23 on the ACT.
Scholarships and other financial assistance
Many schools will accept you with a relatively low ACT test score. Personally, we’ve known some students who were able to get in with a 17–sometimes even lower than that. It just depends on the location, the university and other circumstances such as grades, extracurriculars, etc. But one constant that you can take to the bank: you’ll need score well on the ACT exam (24 or better) to be considered for scholarship money or financial awards from the institution itself.
Best courses starting out
Once you’re in and the funding issue is settled, a college or university continues to use your ACT test scores to determine the best pathway to your degree. Your strengths and weaknesses can play a huge role in setting you on the path for a standard educational plan or towards honors classes. Higher education looks at the composite score (your overall average among the four content areas) as well as the individual score for each section. Along with your high school grades and the level of difficulty of high school classes, advisors will try to help you plot a strong course for success from the very beginning.
Throughout the rest of one’s college degree plan, ACT test scores can still offer insight for both the student and the advisor as to how one’s educational career develops. The exam measures one’s knowledge of English, math, reading and science reasoning. Within each of these specialties, the test can determine strengths in subspecialties that range from rhetorical skills to trigonometry. The questions that you get right say a lot about where your strengths lie and along with grades, are a great benchmark for college readiness.