Education: NC Pays for Juniors to Take ACT Mar 5


Story by Christine M. Hall, Ed.D., president of CMH College Consulting in Cary. Photo by Christine Zrust.

Cary, NC- On March 5, 2013, all North Carolina Public School Juniors will take the ACT test at their home school. And the state of North Carolina is paying for it!

This is one of the two admissions exams required to gain entrance to college – the other is the SAT.  The ACT is accepted by ALL four-year colleges and universities in the US and last year, the number of students taking the ACT out-numbered those taking the SAT. The ACT narrowly surpassed the SAT, by fewer than 2,000 test-takers out of about 1.65 million who took each exam.

Wake County and the state of NC began requiring the test for all high school juniors in March of 2012 as part of their strategic plan to make all students college and career ready.

Only 8 Other States Require ACT

For NC students, this is a unique opportunity available only to eight other states in the nation. The ACT is only offered six times a year on a Saturday, however, NC students will get an extra chance to not only take the test during the school day, but they will also have the advantage of taking that test in a familiar setting – their home school. Additionally, the test normally costs $35 without the Writing section, and $50.50 with the Writing. NC students are not required to pay this fee and may submit these scores to colleges.

While it has become a popular belief that you should take the ACT/SAT as often as possible, this is not the case. Many colleges still require you to submit all your test scores, thus you never want to go into a test unprepared. It is important to note that the ACT is not an aptitude test. Unlike the SAT, it measures the content that students have gained in their high school coursework.

Practice Before Taking

With less than a month to go before the test date, students still have time to prepare for the test. With little or no money, students have numerous options. You don’t need to hire a tutor, or enroll your child in expensive Prep courses to be prepared. The ACT offers free practice test questions, as well as tips on taking the test. It is advised that if students do nothing else to prepare, they at least review this before exam day so that they are familiar with the test format.

Students can also go onto for additional free test prep or purchase test prep books from the ACT or other publishers. Finally, students should check with their individual school to determine if other test prep options are being offered at their site.

This is just another way that North Carolina is leading the way to help students gain access to college.

8 replies
  1. George
    George says:

    Do homeschooled kids get the same deal? Seems reasonable to me since their parents pay taxes just like everyone else.

  2. Christine Hall
    Christine Hall says:

    The state of NC is using the ACT as a means of measuring student achievement. The advantage is that it also measures college readiness. Essentially, they are eliminating many end of course tests and using a standard means of assessment. In reality, it could actually save money if we eliminate the production, dissemination, administration and assessment of end of course exams.

    The purpose of the article, however, was intended to inform students and parents of a unique opportunity to take a college readiness test during the school day. The final paragraph was intended to provide more free preparation for students.

    • Brent
      Brent says:

      I thought it was a great and informative article, Christine. I think the final sentence sums it up nicely. Hope to see more articles in this area.

  3. Gary
    Gary says:

    Hope they show a boys school in next article! ;-)

    Regarding college students and getting aid for food:

    “Google” the phrase: obama college students snap

  4. Gary
    Gary says:

    Wow, nice treat from the taxpayers. Sorta of like a mini tax refund for those that pay sate income taxes, eh?

    Yes, I helped put three through college in the 90s. All are employed and live locally.

    I sure hope NC is not setting an example for students subsequently expecting things throughout college, like food stamp-type programs, and student loan forgiveness, etc.

    Myself, I got vocational education in H.S. that enabled a 33-year career at IBM, after attending a two-year community college.

    Let’s hope NC taxpayers are as generous helping a student learn a vocation that may not want a liberal arts degree, etc.

    Best advice I have for those not taking or “failing” the free test:

    Call up several community college placement offices and ask what employers are begging for what graduates…then apply for enrollment in that program!


    • Brent
      Brent says:

      Comments? Ummm…yeah.

      1. I support public education and I am delighted to be able to furnish my share of this “treat” to students. I wonder how many students will be able to take the ACT who might otherwise not be able to do so? If it’s just one, that’s fine with me…maybe this could be the start of his or her new opportunities enabled by having the option to go to college.

      2. I fail to see how funding opportunities in education will lead to people expecting to get food stamps. Really? I take the opposite view…enabling educational opportunities for all students makes for a stronger state of North Carolina.

      3. Unfortunately, no, the state of North Carolina is not nearly so generous for vocational training. Funding for community colleges is a small fraction of funding for public universities and other public education. Here’s where I agree with you: I think there should be more opportunities in this area and that community colleges should get a lot more funding (when the economy goes sour, community colleges actually experience increased demand and need more resources…frankly, I don’t know how NC’s community colleges accomplish their mission as well as they do on a shoestring budget…but that’s not sustainable). But it’s not very productive to try to pit universities against community colleges…we need all of them. And here’s the rub: NC’s education funding is pretty shallow overall, and it’s getting worse…so K-12 public schools, universities and community colleges are all headed downhill over the long term. Much of that is because a majority of our lawmakers get elected by promising to minimize and halt all these “treats from taxpayers”. Everyone wants to cut spending until it hits home for them.

      I also agree with your advice to those students who are so inclined to pursue trades, although I would add the caveat that they ought to pursue something that interests them and that they like. We spend too much time at our jobs to do something we hate, even if the pay is good.

    • Brooke Meyer
      Brooke Meyer says:

      Not really a treat from the tax payers, NC Students are required to take the ACT, which is stated in the article.

      Here’s a quote from a previous Wake County School Superintendent:

      ““Our goal is for all Wake County students to be college and career ready,” Superintendent Tony Tata said. “The ACT is one of many tools in our strategic plan to ensure that students are on a path to success.”

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