Every year over a million and half people take the ACT exam. ACT originally was simply an acronym that stood for American College Testing, but the official name is now just ACT. The exam is taken as part of the college admission process, and in 2011 more people took the ACT than the SAT, which for decades had been the most popular college admissions test. The test is scored on a scale of 1-36, and in 2011, of the 1.6 million people who took the exam, only 705 scored a 36.
There are two forms of the ACT. The regular exam has four sections – English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science Reasoning. All of these use the multiple choice format. The ACT Plus has the same four sections, in addition to an essay writing requirement. On the writing section the test taker is given 30 minutes to respond to a prompt, which is usually of a social or political nature. (The score on this section can affect the score on the English section of the exam.) A student can choose to take the regular exam or the one with the essay requirement, but some colleges and universities require applicants to take the ACT Plus.
For the English section, the test taker has 45 minutes to answer 75 questions. They cover both usage and rhetoric. Topics can include commas, colons, semi-colons, dependent and independent clauses, structure, clarity, style, etc. Answering 75 questions in 45 minutes is quite a challenge, and many test takers aren’t able to complete this section in its entirety.
The Mathematics section consists of 60 questions and lasts 60 minutes. It, too, is a race against the clock for most test takers. The questions cover arithmetic, basic and intermediate algebra, plane geometry, coordinate geometry, and basic trigonometry. Certain kinds of calculators are permitted for this section.
The Reading section is 35 minutes long and consists of 40 questions based on four reading passages -one each of fiction, social science, liberal arts, and natural science. It measures the ability to understand and interpret written material in different fields.
Science Reasoning consists of 40 questions with a 35 minute time limit. It is comprise of questions about seven reading passages – three data representation passages, three research summary passages, and one conflicting viewpoint passage. Questions on this section measure a test taker’s skills at logical reasoning, problem solving, and their abilities to interpret, evaluate and analyze scientific material.
Questions 1-15 pertain to the following passage:
A Quick (and Easy) Step to Better Health
A more healthy diet is something most of us want. It can be mystifying to put into practice sometimes though – with new (and completely different) diet books coming (1) of the marketevery day that tell us that if we follow them (2) precise they will not only make us thinner, but stronger, smarter and help us live longer. Sometimes it’s easier to just throw up our hands and eat that bag of Cheetos for dinner, than (3) to decide how we’re going to make sense of all the eating advice out there. Just because it’s hard and frustrating doesn’t mean (4) its okay to stop trying (5) through. Endless snacking on those Cheetos may be understandable if we can’t figure out exactly how to do things right, but it’s also a sure-fire way to be a whole lot less healthy if it keeps us from eating better options.
One powerful (6) but very easily approach to increasing the healthiness of our diets is to recognize that some foods are so good for us that we can almost think of them as medicine. Some fight heart disease or cancer, some lower cholesterol or blood pressure. Some fight depression. At some point, (7) we may wants to give ourselves the complete diet, exercise, and general health overhaul that all these books seem to think is necessary, but (8) in the meantime, we can take the baby step of adding in one or more good-for-us foods a week. This step is quick, easy, painless and couldn’t be simpler (9) implement-and it will make our transition to full-fledged healthy eating that much easier to accomplish when we finally get there.
Here are a few ideas for superstar foods to work in to our regular diet: broccoli has tons of vitamin K and vitamin C which help build strong bones and fight off cancers. Dark chocolate can (10) reducing blood pressure as well as bad cholesterol. Walnuts and salmon have tons of omega-3 fatty acids which are linked to reduced risk of depression, heart disease and cancer. Lemons pack in the vitamin C, may inhibit the growth of cancer cells and (11) acts as an anti-inflammatory. Avocadoes can lower cholesterol and help reduce risk of heart disease. Sweet potatoes are jam-packed full of cancer-fighting and immune system-boosting vitamin A. Garlic can inhibit the growth of bacteria and has been shown to lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Spinach is a great cancer fighter and contains immune-boosting antioxidants important for eye health. Beans help lower risk of heart disease and breast cancer.
Wouldn’t we take all (12) that things if they were medicines that our doctors offered us? Instead, we have the fun (13) off sitting back with (14) our lemony guacamole, bean salad, grilled salmon or piece of dark chocolate and knowing we’re taking an important (15) steps to better health.
F. no change
G. on the market
H. from the market
J. if the market
A. no change
C. precise fully
F. no change
J. make decision
- no change
- it are
F. no change
- no change
- but very easy
- but not easy
- but not easily
F. no change
G. we may
H. we wants
J. we may want
- no change
- in the now
- in the time now
- in meantime
F. no change
J. to implement
- no change
F. no change
G. act on
- no change
- this things
- these things
F. no change
- no change
F. no change
J. step on
16. What is the largest integer less than the square root of 71?
17. The expression (4x – 3)(x + 2) is equivalent to
- 4x2 – x + 2
- x – 6
- 4x2 + 8x – 6
- 4x2 + 5x – 6
- 4x – 6
18. I-4I2 + I -7I – 2 =
Questions 19-28 pertain to the following passage:
Joseph Smith and Mormonism
Joseph Smith, Jr., born in Vermont in 1805, was the founder of Mormonism. In the late 1820s, he claimed to have been visited by an angel named Moroni who led him to a book on golden plates that was buried on a hill near Smith’s home. This book recorded the history of God’s dealings with indigenous inhabitants of the Americas. Smith claimed to have taken possession of the plates which he said were written in “Reformed Egyptian.”
A neighbor of Smith’s, Martin Harris, transcribed the translation of the plates as Smith dictated. The resulting 116 manuscripts were lost by Harris. Smith then dictated to his wife his first written revelation which assured Smith that if he repented the loss of the manuscript, God would allow him to redo the translation. The Book of Mormon was finally published in 1830; Martin Harris financed the publication by mortgaging his farm.
In April of 1830, Joseph Smith formally created the Church of Christ. In the early 1830s he also published the Book of Moses and a collection of his earlier revelations published as the Book of Commandments.
In 1832, Smith was twenty-six years old and leading a church of about one thousand members. He faced difficulties internally with the management of such a large organization and with disaffected former followers who accused him of various misdeeds. He also faced opposition to his revelations and religious beliefs externally. That year, he was beaten, tarred and feathered and narrowly escaped being castrated.
Smith courted controversy with his institution of plural marriage. In 1841 he secretly married a second wife, and in less than three years after that may have married about thirty additional women. About a third of those new wives were teenagers. Smith faced opposition to this institution from the outer world, whose fears of Mormonism were felt to be confirmed by this disturbing practice. His wife, Emma Smith, intensely disliked this aspect of her marriage. Emma Smith, in fact, frequently denied that her husband had been a polygamist.
Another opponent of polygamy, William Law, had been one of Smith’s greatest supporters. Disagreeing with Smith over plural marriage as well as other issues, Law gave testimony that resulted in three indictments being brought against Smith, including one accusing him of polygamy. Law then published a newspaper called the Nauvoo Expositor that attacked Smith. Smith, then Mayor of the town in which the paper was published, ordered the city marshal to destroy the paper. Smith, facing criminal charges for the destruction of the press, surrendered and went to jail. A mob stormed the jail and Smith was killed.
In the early 21st Century, there may be as many as 14 million members of denominations arising from Joseph Smith’s teachings. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints alone claims a membership of thirteen million.
19. According to the passage, how was the publication of the Book of Mormon financed?
- God allowed him to redo the translation.
- Smith led a church of about 1,000 members.
- Martin Harris mortgaged his farm.
- Smith dictated the book to Martin Harris.
20. According to the passage, what political office did Smith hold when he ordered the destruction of the newspaper?
F. City Marshal
J. Supreme Leader
21. According to the passage, with what issue did Smith court controversy?
- his claim to have been visited by the angel Moroni
- his claim that the gold plates were written in “Reformed Egyptian”
- his institution of plural marriage
- his collection of early writings
22. According to the passage, what did the Book of Mormon describe?
F. God’s dealings with indigenous Americans
G. the angel Moroni
H. the language “Reformed Egyptian”
J. the hill near Smith’s home
23. Which of the following is not a text published at the behest of Smith?
- Book of Mormon
- Book of Moses
- Book of Commandments
- Book of Moroni
24. According to the passage, how many members does the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints say it has?
25. Which of the following is true according to the passage?
- In 1832, Smith was 26 years old.
- In 1820, he created the Church of Christ.
- In 1840, he had more than 30 wives.
- In 1805, he founded Mormonism.
26. According to the passage, which of the following was an opponent of polygamy?
F. angel Moroni
G. Martin Harris
H. Nauvoo Expositor
J. William Law
27. As of the year 2000, how long had the Church of Christ been in existence?
- 270 years
- 170 years
- 100 years
- 70 years
28. According to the passage, which of the following statements is true of Emma Smith?
F. She never legally became Smith’s wife.
G. She was not Mormon.
H. She disliked polygamy.
J. She divorced Smith.
Questions 29-34 pertain to the following passage:
Bats are one of the largest and most diverse mammal orders – accounting for one-fifth of all living mammal species. A long-standing question about bats had been about how they evolved. Specifically, scientists have wondered which came first for bats: flight or their sonar system which they use to navigate and hunt for prey. Or, some scientists questioned, did those two attributes evolve together? In 2003,a bat fossil was found that answered that question.
A well-preserved fossil of the most primitive bat species currently known was found in Wyoming in 2003. Dating the rock formation in which the fossil was found put its age at 52 million years. The fossil had a number of surprising characteristics. More claws than modern bats and different limb proportions from those found on bats today suggest that these early bats may have been skilled climbers. But its long fingers, keeled breastbone and other features indicate that it could fly under its own power like bats of today, though probably not as far or as fast.
On the other hand, the bat’s skull lacked features in and around the ear that are found in bats that use echolocation. Without echolocation, the bat species most likely used visual, olfactory and audio cues to hunt. Thus the question was resolved: bats could fly before they had sonar.
29. Which was not a possible answer to the long-standing question described in this passage?
- echolocation evolved first
- the ability to fly evolved first
- echolocation and the ability to fly evolved simultaneously
- neither echolocation nor the ability to fly evolved
30. Which features did the scientists find that suggest that the bat could have flown?
F. long fingers and keeled breastbone
G. keeled breastbone and many claws
H. many claws and long fingers
J. unusual limb proportions and many claws
31. What features were absent that suggest the bat could not echolocate?
- long limbs
- features in and around the ear that bats use for echolocation
- multiple fingers
- keeled breastbone
32. What is the closest meaning for the word “olfactory” as used in the passage?
F. of or relating to the sense of sight
G. of or relating to the sense of hearing
H. of or relating to the sense of sonar
J. of or relating to the sense of smell
33. How did the scientists estimate the fossil’s age?
- by comparing it to modern day bat skeletons
- by echolocation
- by dating the rock formation in which fossil was found
- by archaeology
34. Which of the following characteristics suggest that this species of bats were skilled climbers?
F. long fingers
G. keeled breastbone
H. more claws that found on modern bats
J. less claws than found on modern bats
1. G: “On the market” is the correct version of the colloquial expression.
2. D: The sentence needs an adverb to modify the verb follow.
3. F: No change is needed. The infinitive form is correct.
4. C: The word needed in the sentence is the contraction of it is, which is correctly written: it’s.
5. G: The meaning of the sentence indicates that the correct word is though.
6. B: The form of the word easy needed in this sentence is an adjective, easy, not an adverb, easily.
7. J: Want is the verb tense that agrees with the subject we.
8. A: In the meantime is the correct phrase.
9. J: This sentence needs the infinitive form of the verb implement.
10. B: The correct form of the verb in this sentence is reduce.
11. H: The subject of the sentence is Lemon; the correct form of the verb that agrees with the subject is acts.
12. C: The plural these correctly modifies the plural things.
13. J: The sentence uses the expression “fun of…”.
14. A: No change is needed. Our is the correct word choice.
15. G: The singular step is the correct word choice for this sentence.
16. G: Think of the perfect squares closest to the square root of 71. The square root of 64 is 8; the square root of 81 is 9. 81 is larger than 71 so the answer must be 8.
17. D: Remember to multiply out these equations using the order FOIL (first, outside, inside, last). Using this approach, we get 4×2+ 8x – 3x – 6 or 4×2 + 5x – 6
18. F: The absolute value of -4 squared is 16. The absolute value of -7 is 7. Therefore solve for the equation 16 + 7 – 2. The answer is 21.
19. C: The last sentence in the second paragraph notes that the publication was financed through the mortgaging of Harris’ farm.
20. G: The sixth paragraph notes that Smith was Mayor when he ordered destruction of the press.
21. C: The fifth paragraph notes that Smith courted controversy regarding the issue of plural marriage.
22. F: The first paragraph notes that the Book recorded God’s dealings with indigenous Americans.
23. D: Options A, B and C are all texts published at the behest of Smith; the Book of Moroni is not such a text.
24. H: The last sentence of the passage notes that the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints claims membership of thirteen million.
25. A: The fourth paragraph notes that in 1832, Smith was 26.
26. J: The sixth paragraph names William Law as an opponent of polygamy.
27. B: If the church came into existence in 1830, as of 2000 it would have been in existence 130 years.
28. H: The fifth paragraph describes how Emma Smith disliked polygamy.
29. D: We know from the premise of the passage that bats can both fly and echolocate.
30. F: The second paragraph states that the long fingers and keeled breastbone suggest that the bat could fly.
31. B: Scientists did not find features around the ears that modern day bats use to echolocate.
32. J: Olfactory means related to the sense of smell.
33. C: The scientists estimated the fossil’s age by dating the rock formation in which it was found.
34. H: The fossilized bat has more claws than modern bats, which suggests that the bat was a skilled climber.