Mythbusting the ACT

Common misconceptions about the test—and tips for how students can best prepare for the ACT!

MYTH: The SAT carries more weight with college admission committees.

FACT: Both the ACT and the SAT are universally accepted by most colleges, and admissions officers don’t prefer one test over the other. That said, students may want to consider taking both—having more options when it comes to test dates and scores can reduce stress.

MYTH: It is more challenging for a student to increase their ACT score than their SAT score.

FACT: Preparation and practice can help students increase scores on either standardized test. SAT/ACT Essentials from The Princeton Review provides both full-length practice tests and study plans personalized based on each student’s performance.* The ACT is scored on a scale of 1-36, so an increase of 1 or 2 points is significant!

MYTH: Students who struggle in science courses should skip the ACT.

FACT: The ACT Science section is actually a complex reading comprehension exercise, including texts, charts, and graphs. The content draws from biology, chemistry, physics, and the Earth/space sciences (astronomy, geology, and meteorology), but students should focus on reading and reasoning skills to conquer the Science section.

MYTH: The ACT essay is optional, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should skip it.

TRUTH: The ACT Essay is optional for test-takers, and not all colleges list it as a requirement for admission. Students should research what schools on their “list” do and do not require the essay portion, and if they do not have a list, should opt in to take it just in case. That said, completing the essay section demonstrates a student’s initiative, like taking challenging courses in high school.

*The Princeton Review SAT/ACT Essentials can be found at no cost in all library accounts as well as Coast Guard families using For more information on test prep support, visit

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