Belgian and Luxembourgish students wishing to enter an American college or university must arrange to take one of the two basic standardized tests by the last year of their secondary studies. These standardized tests, which are also required of American high school students, include the ACT and the SAT. Your score on these tests will be considered by colleges in the admissions process, along with your secondary school records, your personal statement and letters of recommendation, and numerous other intangible factors.
Since both tests are now universally accepted by universities in the U.S., students usually can choose which test to take.
What is the ACT and what does it test? The ACT (American College Testing) assesses the student’s skills in Mathematics, Reading, English, and Science. There is also an optional Writing Test for students applying to colleges and universities that want to see a writing score. Students receive a composite score from 1 to 36 that takes the average of their four test scores.
The ACT Mathematics Test consists of 60 questions on the following topics: Pre-Algebra/Elementary Algebra, Intermediate Algebra and Coordinate Geometry, and Plane Geometry and Trigonometry. The ACT Reading Test consists of 40 questions and contains passages relating to Arts and Literature as well as Social Sciences and Natural Sciences. The ACT English Test, which consists of 75 questions, tests students on both language mechanics (e.g., punctuation, sentence structure) and rhetorical skills. Lastly, the ACT Science Test requires interpretation analysis, evaluation, reasoning, and problem-solving skills in the fields of Biology, Earth/Space Science, Chemistry, and Physics.
Since the ACT is curriculum-based, some US colleges and universities that normally require SAT Subject Tests will exempt ACT examinees from taking them.
When should I take the ACT? The ACT is offered five times per year. The dates for the 2016-2017 academic year are 10 September 2016, 22 October 2016, 10 December 2016, 8 April 2017, and 10 June 2017. Online registration closes 1-2 months before the test date. It is important to allow time for the test results to be sent to admissions officers, so the earlier you take the test, the better!
How can I register for the ACT? All students taking the ACT outside of the U.S. must register online by going to www.actstudent.org to create their free student web account and following the simple instructions to select a test date and location. A credit card is needed to finalize registration. After registering, students print their admission ticket, which they will take with them to the test center on the day of the exam.
For the most part, admissions tests like the ACT and/or SAT are required of all foreign students. The most important thing to remember is not to worry too much about them! The results of these tests are only one element in your application. Admissions officers realize that foreign students generally have lower verbal scores than American students and will be more interested in your academic results than in the results of these standardized tests.