By Steve Rogers

ACT. Are there any other three letters that strike more fear into  your hearts? Placing those three letters in that order creates such a sense of panic that many  dread learning anything more than is necessary about what those letters represent and why it is important to them. The intent of this blog is to help you eliminate your fear that so often accompanies the ACT by providing you with information about the test. To paraphrase the Jedi code, “Where there is knowledge, there is no fear.”

What is the ACT?

As the title of the blog indicates, the ACT is a standardized college admissions test. It is has now surpassed the SAT test as the most common test taken for students seeking admission to college. Universities use this test to assist them in determining a student’s admittance and overall college readiness. Typically the ACT test ranges from $40-60 per test, but in the past, Utah has covered the expense of one test per student. To find out if this is still available, be sure to check with your school counseling office. In some cases where there is a cost to take the ACT, check with your school counselor to see if you qualify for a test fee waiver so you don’t have to pay out-of-pocket to take the test.

How does the ACT impact you as a student?

The college admissions process is the most obvious way the ACT impacts a student, and a low score may actually negatively affect you from being admitted into the college of your choice. However, many colleges also use the test to place incoming freshmen into specific classes or tracks of classes. A less than ideal score may end up placing you in a class that is not academically challenging enough, or force you into a track of classes that you otherwise may have been able to bypass altogether.

Colleges typically use the ACT when they evaluate their scholarship resources and funding. A student who performs well on the test will most likely be considered for merit-based (academic excellence) scholarships that the university awards.

Resources to help prepare you for the ACT

Utah provides statewide access to various ACT test preparation resources.

The following are some of the most commonly used:

  • Shmoop University (a free, state-provided resource) has diagnostic and full-length practice tests, top-specific drills, skill mastery breakdowns, and additional math-based resources for the ACT.
  • is another state-provided, free resource which provides students with access to the Learning Express Library suite of college preparation resources (available through the user’s account homepage under assessments), which includes access to tutorials, full-length tests, and ebooks for the ACT. (It also has other college prep resources for the SAT, AP, and other tests).
  • If you are just looking to get more information about the ACT in Utah, reach out to your school counseling office, but check out the Utah State Board of Education to get you started.

If you’re planning to take the ACT this fall, check out the upcoming test dates. Good Luck!


Steve Rogers is the Outreach Manager for Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority (UHEAA). Connect with him on Twitter.