As stressful as the ACT can be, you shouldn’t take it too seriously. It’s an important test, sure, but just a test all the same.
Here are five weird facts about the ACT to help you feel less overwhelmed by studying.
Fact #1: Harvey Mudd was the last college to start accepting the ACT
Although the SAT was the original college admission test, most schools have been treating the ACT equally for decades. A major exception was engineering college Harvey Mudd, which didn't allow applicants to submit ACT scores until 2007 — making it the very last school to do so.
Fact #2: The ACT was originally intended to be a placement test as well as an admissions test
When it was first designed, the ACT was meant to compete with the SAT by testing knowledge rather than potential. Given that the test was meant to show what students actually knew, founder E. F. Lindquist wanted the ACT to be used for placement as well as admissions.
Alas, that use never really caught on (except with some community colleges). But the ACT's curriculum-based testing approach has influenced the College Board's many changes to the SAT, especially next year's major overhaul.
Fact #3: The ACT is now more popular than the SAT
In the past few years, the ACT’s popularity has actually surpassed the SAT’s. 1.85 million students from the class of 2014 took the ACT and 1.67 million took the SAT.
Fact #4: Cheating on the ACT can get you arrested
In 2011, a group of college students who were caught taking the ACT for others were brought up on criminal charges in New York (although ultimately none of them went to jail). Another case of ACT cheating involved teachers at one Kentucky school helping their students with difficult questions.
The New York cheating scandal is the reason ACT admission tickets now include a photo.
Fact #5: Colorado and Illinois were the first states to require all juniors to take the ACT
If you live in the Midwest or Southeast, there’s a good chance you’ll be required to take the ACT in your high school.
Although 16 states now require the test, the practice started back in 2001 with just two: Colorado and Illinois. Ironically, the ACT is no longer required of all Illinois juniors: the state decided last year to allow districts to opt out of the testing.
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Alex is an experienced tutor and writer. Over the past five years, she has worked with almost a hundred students and written about pop culture for a wide range of publications. She graduated with honors from University of Chicago, receiving a BA in English and Anthropology, and then went on to earn an MA at NYU in Cultural Reporting and Criticism. In high school, she was a National Merit Scholar, took 12 AP tests and scored 99 percentile scores on the SAT and ACT.