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ACT, SAT & ESSAY WRITING. Dr. Shawnita Sealy-Jefferson, Ph.D., M.P.H., B.S. Epidemiologist Postdoctoral Fellow Wayne State University School of Medicine Department of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences Objectives. Discuss ACT and SAT

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Act sat essay writing


Dr. Shawnita Sealy-Jefferson, Ph.D., M.P.H., B.S.


Postdoctoral Fellow

Wayne State University School of Medicine

Department of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences


  • Discuss ACT and SAT

    • What they are, test components, strategies for success

  • Compare and contrast ACT & SAT

  • Advantages/disadvantages of both

  • Discuss admission/scholarship essay writing

    • Role of the essay

    • Where to start when writing

    • Mechanics

    • Tips

    • Should you have a reviewer?

  • Answer questions

  • What is the act
    What is the ACT?

    • Achievement test, measuring how much you learned in school

    • Up to 5 components:

      • English, Mathematics, Reading, Science, and an optional Writing Test

    • Scale scores range from 1-36

    • Two scores for writing Test

      • Combined english/writing score (1-36)

      • Writing sub-score (2-12)

      • Comments from one of the trained readers

    • ACT national average score is 21

    • Typically taken first in junior year˚

    Basics of preparation
    Basics of preparation

    • Become familiar with the content and format of ACT

    • Learn appropriate test-taking strategies

    • Use ACT Online Prep—ACT’s test preparation program

    • Review “The Real ACT Prep Guide”—the official test prep book

    • Take ACT’s free practice test

    • See your counselor for other test preparation materials

    • Visit the ACT website at˚

    The best preparation is a solid high school curriculum
    The Best Preparation Is A Solid High School Curriculum

    English 4 Years

    Mathematics (Algebra 1 and above)4 Years

    Social Studies 3 Years

    Science 3 Years

    Foreign Language 2 Years

    Arts 1 Year˚

    Remember test scores are only one factor used for college admissions and scholarship decisions
    REMEMBER:Test scores are only ONE factor used for college admissions and scholarship decisions!!!

    Act sat essay writing

    ACT English score do YOU want?!?

    Editing five short passages

    75 questions - 45 minutes – 9 minutes Per passage

    Usage - Mechanics Skills

    40Q 53%

    Rhetoric Skills

    35Q 47%





    and Use


















    Low-level usage

    Shifting point of view


    Subject-verb agreement

    Pronoun use

    Adverb vs adjective

    Double negative





    Comma splice


    Coord conjunction


    Misplaced modifiers



    Split construction

    Unintended meaning

    Paragraph development

    Sentence-level structure

    Paragraph-level structure







    Appropriate support

    Main idea



    Opening sentence

    Concluding sentence

    No change waiting by the back door waiting by the back door waiting by the back door

    ACT English Practice Question score do YOU want?!?

    I grew up with buckets, shovels, and nets waiting by the back door; hip-waders hanging in the closet; tide table charts covering the refrigerator door; and a microscope was sitting on the kitchen table.

    No change

    Waiting, by the back door,

    Waiting by the back door,

    Waiting by the back door

    No change

    Would sit



    Act sat essay writing

    ACT Math score do YOU want?!?

    60 questions - 60 minutes

    Direct use of math facts

    or formulas

    32Q 53%

    Word Problems

    16Q 27%

    Inference/ decision making

    12Q 20%






















    Practice act math problem
    PRACTICE ACT MATH PROBLEM score do YOU want?!?

    • What is the value of x when 2x + 3 = 3x – 4 ? A) –7 B) -1/5 C) 1 D) 1/5 E) 7

    Act sat essay writing

    ACT Reading score do YOU want?!?

    4 Passages – 40 Questions – 35 Minutes

    Read 750 words


    10Q 25%

    Read 750 words


    10Q 25%

    Read 750 words

    Social Science

    10Q 25%

    Read 750 words

    Natural Science

    10Q 25%

    Explicit Questions

    14Q 35%

    Implicit Questions

    26Q 65%






    Author’s Voice

    Main Idea



    Words in


    Act reading practice question
    ACT Reading Practice Question score do YOU want?!?

    (65) Existing that way all the time, on the edge of hunger, on the edge of kindness, gave Abshu an appreciation for a life fully lived. Do whatever job makes you happy, regardless of the cost; and fill your home with love. Well, his home became the community center right around the corner from Brewster place.

    • As it is used in line 65, the term the edge refers to a place where Abshu felt:

      • most alive.

      • unfulfilled.

      • defeated.

      • most competitive.

    Act sat essay writing

    ACT score do YOU want?!?

    Science Reasoning

    7 passages - 40 questions - 35minutes

    3 passages

    Research Summary

    18Q 45%

    3 passages

    Data Representation

    15Q 37%

    1 Passage

    Conflicting Viewpoint

    7Q 18%

    Identify data points

    Identify units/labels

    Identify trends

    Identify variables

    Identify controls



    7Q 17 5%








    20Q 50%









    13Q 32 5%




    Act science reasoning practice question
    ACT Science Reasoning Practice Question score do YOU want?!?

    • Spent fuel (SF), a radioactive waste, is often buried underground in canisters for disposal. As it decays, SF generates high heat and raises the temperature of the surrounding rock, which may expand and crack, allowing radioactivity to escape into the environment. Scientists wanted to determine which of 4 rock types—rock salt, granite, basalt, or shale—would be least affected by the heat from SF. The thermal conductivity (how well heat is conducted through a material) and heating trends of the 4 rock types were studied.

    • The scientists calculated the temperature increase that would be expected over a period of 100,000 yr in each rock type at a point within a site holding buried SF.

    • According this study, if another set of temperatures had been calculated for a time 1,000,000 years in the future, the calculated temperature increase in any of the 4 rock types would most likely be closest to:

      • 0°C

      • 10°C.

      • 20°C.

      • 30°C.

    10 strategies for act
    10 Strategies for ACT score do YOU want?!?

    • Skip the directions

    • Skim the whole section

    • Pace yourself

    • Answer the easy questions first

    • When in doubt, guess

    • Don’t lose your confidence with tough questions

    • Frequently check your place on the answer sheet

    • Don’t get sidetracked by the unimportant

    • Understand what you’re being asked

    • Stop a minute or two before your time is up

      BONUS: Make a study plan and follow it ˚

    Act sat essay writing

    Scholastic Aptitude Test score do YOU want?!?


    Sat what is the purpose
    SAT: WHAT IS THE PURPOSE? score do YOU want?!?

    • Aptitude: predicts your potential for future success

    • Assess your academic readiness for college

    • Provides a path to opportunities, financial support and scholarships

    • Measures the skills required for success in college and beyond!

    Act sat essay writing
    SAT score do YOU want?!?

    • Taken 1st time in spring of junior year

    • Indicates how well you use skills and knowledge attained in and out of the classroom

      • How you think, solve problems, and communicate

    • 3 hr and 45 min exam

    • 10 sections

      • 3 critical reading sections

      • 3 math sections

      • 3 writing sections

      • 1 experimental section

    • Total score is between 600-2400

    • National average for the SAT is 1510˚

    Act sat essay writing
    SAT score do YOU want?!?

    • Offered 7 times a year

      • January, March, May, June, October, November, December

    • Students can register at

    • SAT Fee Waivers are available

    • Cost is $45.00 and includes 4 score reports˚

    Sat critical reading
    SAT Critical Reading score do YOU want?!?

    Sat writing
    SAT Writing score do YOU want?!?

    Sat practice writing problem

    Hoping to -------the dispute, negotiators proposed a compromise that they felt would be --------to both labor and management.

    A) enforce…useful

    B) end…divisive

    C) overcome…unattractive

    D) extend…satisfactory

    E) resolve…acceptable

    Sat math
    SAT Math score do YOU want?!?

    Sat subject area tests
    SAT SUBJECT AREA TESTS score do YOU want?!?

    • Measure your knowledge and skills in particular subject areas

    • SAT Subject Tests fall into five general subject areas:

    10 strategies for sat
    10 Strategies for SAT score do YOU want?!?

    • Create a study plan and follow it

    • Don’t get stuck on any one question

    • Learn the directions in advance

    • For the essay, develop your ideas and express them clearly, using examples to back them up

    • For the writing multiple-choice questions, think about the simplest clearest way to express an idea

    • For sentence completions, as you read, try to predict what word should go in each blank

    • For reading comprehension questions, skim the passage to see what it’s about

    • For the math multiple choice, you’re allowed to use a calculator, but it won’t help you unless you know how to approach the problems

    • For the math grid-ins, you must come up with the answer and fill in the grid

    • Relax the night before the test

    Or both
    or both???? score do YOU want?!?

    Act sat essay writing

    ACT/SAT COMPARISON achievement test?

    • ACT

      • Achievement Test

      • Given 6 times per year

      • English, Math, Reading, Science Reasoning, and optional Writing

      • No penalty for wrong answer

      • 1-36 for each subject, averaged for a composite score, 2-12 for the Writing Test˚

    • SAT

      • Aptitude Test

      • Given 7 times per year

      • Reading, Math, and Writing

      • ¼ of a point deduction for wrong answer on multiple choice

      • 200-800 points per section, for a total score of 600-2400˚

    Act sat essay writing

    ACT/SAT COMPARISON achievement test?

    • ACT

      • Math section includes Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra 2, and Trigonometry

      • Sends 4 free reports to colleges of your choice, each additional report is $10

      • No formulas given for math section˚

    • SAT

      • Math section includes Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra 2

      • Sends 4 free reports to colleges of your choice, each additional report is $10

      • Formulas given for math section˚

    Act sat essay writing

    SAT Advantages achievement test?

    SAT Disadvantages

    The SAT is about 4 hours long

    ¼ point penalty for wrong answers

    If you don’t like writing essays, the SAT begins with a timed essay that is graded and factored into your writing score˚

    • 10 short sections, the longest of which is 25-minutes  

    • Tests 9th and 10th grade math, plus a few reasoning concepts

    • About 1/4 of Critical Reading questions are vocabulary-based

    • “Score choice”: choose to send best scores while suppressing lower scores˚

    Act sat essay writing

    ACT Advantages achievement test?

    ACT Disadvantages

    Time demand can be profound

    Science section is challenging for those w/ difficulty reasoning with numbers and graphs

    Math concepts include trigonometry

    ACT English will certainly challenge knowledge of colons, hyphens, commas, etc˚

    • Only 4 sections, the longest is 1 hour

    • ~3 hours long

    • “Score choice”: only send your highest score to colleges

    • No penalty for incorrect answers˚

    Additional resources
    Additional Resources achievement test?

    College Information

    • CSO College Center:

    • The College Board:

    • Peterson’s:

    • The Common App:

    • Hobson’s Collegeview:

    • Colleges That Change Lives:

    Additional resources1
    Additional resources achievement test?


    • ACT:

    • ACT Fee Waiver Instructions: www.actstudent. org/faq/answers/feewaiver.html

    • SAT: The College Board:

    • SAT Fee Waiver Instructions: www.collegeboard com/student/testing/sat/calenfees/feewaivers.html

    • Preliminary SAT(PSAT): www.collegeboard com/student/testing/psat/about/html

    • Free Test Prep from Number2 com:

    • The Princeton Review:

    • Kaplan’s Test Prep:

    Essay writing
    ESSAY WRITING achievement test?

    Act sat essay writing

    WHY DO I HAVE TO WRITE ESSAYS?!? achievement test?

    • Gives some context for your accomplishments

    • Allows you to add your voice to the admission process

    • Gives readers insight into you as a person

    • Allows admission/scholarship committee to evaluate:

      • Writing style

      • Language usage

      • Organization

      • Persuasion skills

      • Confidence˚

    Role of the essay
    Role Of The Essay achievement test?

    • Allows you to add information that you couldn't share in other parts of the application

    • Adds clarity, depth, and meaning to information collected in other parts of your application

    • Enables you to make the best possible case for why you should be admitted/awarded a scholarship˚

    Act sat essay writing

    Role Of The Essay achievement test?

    • It's your only chance to explain to college admissions/scholarship committee why you are a good fit:

      • become more than just another application

      • become an individual

      • share your personality

      • your goals

      • your experiences

      • explain any opportunities or obstacles that have affected your academic record˚

    Act sat essay writing

    TRUE OR FALSE (and why): achievement test?If I write one good admission/scholarship essay, I can send the same essay to all of the schools/scholarship search committees?

    Where do i start
    WHERE DO I START? achievement test?

    • Complete the application FIRST!

    • Use the application to help you:

      • Think about your life story and how you will convey it

      • Think about your academic experiences as a whole

      • Connect the issues raised by the application to your responses in your personal statement

      • Find the questions that your readers might ask

        • You as the writer have a responsibility anticipate & answer your readers' questions, even before they are asked˚

    Now what
    NOW WHAT?? achievement test?

    • Investigate and explore your audience

      • Info about the universities their admissions process

      • What does the committee want to find out about applicants through the personal statement?

      • This info can be found on the university or scholarship website

    • Explore Yourself!

      • The more comfortable you are with writing about yourself and your story, the better your essay will be!

    Mechanics of writing the essay
    Mechanics of Writing the Essay achievement test?

    • Be original - be yourself

    • Tell a story - your story

    • Remember to put things in the words and language with which you are comfortable

      • Don’t use big, fancy words, especially if you are not sure of the meaning of the words

    • A simple style is best

      • Good writing sounds like speech rather than a vocabulary review lesson

    • Use clear, vivid writing style˚

    • The body must relate to the first sentence of the paragraph

    • Use transition words

    • Your conclusion is crucial

    • Revise, Revise, Revise!

    • Read aloud what you have written to help you locate areas that don’t make sense

    • Put your draft aside for one day, then read it again and revise˚

    Tips for writing
    Tips for Writing : achievement test?

    • Get Personal

      • A successful essay is the one where the reader learns about you and your life

    • Details, Details, Details

      • Use details to personalize your essay and to make it more interesting

    • Be Honest

      • Write about what really happened and who you really are

    • Don’t just list the facts

      • The why and how about the information is also important

      • Use specific, concrete examples and language

      • Avoid generalities like "being on the track team was fun”

      • Make sure your response directly addresses the ?

      • Expand on information contained elsewhere in your application ˚

    Tips cont
    Tips (cont) achievement test?

    • Get right to the point

      • Adding unnecessary info is distracting and not helpful

    • Adhere to word restrictions

      • Better to be under the limit than over the limit

    • Responses should complete the application

      • The personal statement is an extension of your application

      • It should provide new information

        • Do not repeat things you've already said in other parts of your application

  • A strong essay demonstrates self-awareness, a key indicator of intelligence˚

  • In your essay did you
    In your essay did you: achievement test?

    • Assist the reader in learning about you?

    • Explain experiences, accomplishments, and point of view that you would contribute?

    • Explain your attributes and experiences that are not evident from your academic record?

    • Describe any unusual circumstances or challenges you have faced?

    • Discuss how you responded to these circumstances or challenges?

    • Discuss your interest in your intended major?

    • Discuss how your interest developed?

    • Describe any relevant work or volunteer experience you’ve had?

    • Discuss your long-term goals after the Bachelor’s degree?

    Act sat essay writing

    Should You Have Someone Review It? achievement test?

    • Having someone review the essay is a necessary step in the process

    • Incorporate the suggestions for improvement

    • Fine line between having your college essay edited and having it rewritten by the reviewer

      • Ultimately, the essay you submit must be your work, not the reviewer’s

      • Be careful about suggestions for major revisions like changing the basic thoughts and content of the essay or adding things that are NOT truly your story

      • An essay that is written by someone else is not yours and should not submitted with your application

    For additional information
    FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: achievement test?

    General Websites