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Why Are My Grades Not Reflected in My ACT Score?

I’ve heard dozens of straight A students state that they expected to score much higher on the ACT than they actually did. Why do good, proficient students often struggle with the ACT? The ACT is designed to measure how likely a student is to excel at first year college core courses. The ACT does this by measuring how well a student can take information, reason through the information, and apply their knowledge and skills to questions pertaining to the data.


On the contrary, high school tests often center around testing skills recently learned. For example, an English class reviews comma usage for a week and takes a test on this skill at the end of the week. Tests are often broken into chapters or units, so students know exactly which skills to study and become proficient in using in order to perform well on these tests. The ACT does not specify which skills are being tested by a question or problem; rather, the test-taker must determine what skills are required in order to solve a problem. So, what’s an ACT test-taker to do?

The ACT is designed for high school students, so, unless you take the ACT very early in your high school career, you have the knowledge necessary to answer the questions! The key is to learn how to decide what knowledge you must apply to each question. This ability comes through practice, preparation, and a little patience.