COVINGTON - Even though the new school year just started, some high school counselors already are asking their students to think about taking a test.
The deadline to register for the next ACT, scheduled for September, is Tuesday.
The achievement test is used at many colleges and universities in Georgia and across the United States to determine if the student can enroll in the institution.
"A lot of parents and students are under the mistaken impression that colleges nationwide prefer the SAT to the ACT," said Catherine Crisp, college and financial aid advisor for Alcovy and Eastside high schools in Covington. "This is not true; all colleges in the state of Georgia accept scores from either test."
Zanessa Burch, career resource coordinator at Rockdale County High School, said many students prefer the ACT over the SAT for various reasons, but she suggested students look at what colleges they want to attend to find out what tests they accept and what scores they need for admissions.
The ACT will be given Sept. 13 at Rockdale County High School and Eastside High School, in addition to many other locations around the state. Students in any school district can take it wherever the test is offered, as long as they register for that particular location and are approved to take it there. Space is limited at each location, so testing officials suggest students register as soon as possible.
Students generally take the test for the first time during their junior year and can retake it as many times as they want.
"We typically advise juniors to start taking the ACT in February ... so that they have taken more of their course work," Crisp said. "They will be tested on information that they will be taught through the end of their senior year, so if they take it first semester, they are potentially missing an entire year's worth of material for the test."
She said many of this year's seniors should have already taken the exam in the spring and may retake the test again this fall to try for better scores.
"Many students will take the test at least twice to try to raise their scores for college admission purposes or to qualify for certain scholarships," she said.
The cost to register for the traditional ACT is $31; the exam is made up of multiple-choice questions in four sections - English, math, reading and science - and is expected to last about three hours.
The ACT Plus Writing costs $46 and will take 30 extra minutes for the additional section.
The late registration deadline is Aug. 22, but students must pay a late fee.
Students can register for the test online at www.actstudent.org or by a registration form in their school counseling office. The Web site also lists the future ACT dates and locations.
Students can take the Oct. 25 exam at Heritage High School in Conyers, the Dec. 13 exam at Eastside High School in Covington and the Feb. 7 exam at Heritage High School.
"We do encourage students to go to the closest available testing site if a (local) high school is not giving the test," Crisp said.
Web sites like www.actstudent.org and www.gacollege411.org offer testing preparation exercises for the ACT and other college admissions exams.
Michelle Floyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.