I spoke to my high school college an career counselor (we had one for a school of over 2,000 the end of my sophomore year and I said, “Well I have been researching the schools I want to go to and I have to take something called the act (I said the word) to get into college. We have taken the PSAT but what is this act?”
The college and career counselor said,”It is pronounced ACT and it) is a college entrance exam that most Midwest schools look for to determine how you compete with other students. You took an exam this year that should have given you a projected ACT score. Speak with your counselor (We had five of these)and they will have your scores.”
I went to my concelor and she pulled out my folder with all the data that has been collected on me since starting high school. I told her I wanted the information about my predicted ACT score. She said, ” Well from what you scored, it is predicted you will score an 18 if you progress at the pace you are currently progressing.”
“Hmm, the mimimum scores that my schools want is a 26. I need to do better than that”
“What schools do you want to go to?”
“University of Michigan, Ohio State, and Spelman to major in engineering” (I didn’t know about the intense rivalry, don’t judge me)
She laughed slightly, “Based on your scores math and science were your worst subjects. English was saved your score. With scores like these you will never get into those schools. You are not even in Honors Math. You should look at state schools like Northern or Southern for something like sociology…Engineering…not with these scores.”
1. Know your baseline: Before you even prep take a practice test so you know where you are starting at. Know that the average score jump with preparation is 5 points but as I have proven, you can jump more.
2. Evaluate your score report: There are indiviual score reports called subscores and then the subscores are broken down into competencies. For example in the math subscore I saw my worst area was Algebra. In English it was vocabulary I knew I needed to work on building up this skill.
3. Practice, Practice, Practice. I read somewhere that the best way to improve on the ACT was to take as many practice tests as possible. So I took all the ACT books out the library and went through them one by one.
4. Create a system that works for you- I knew that I had to improve in some proficiencies like math and English so I spent time during the week doing that. I practiced vocab on my flashcards on my way to school and during lunch. After school I went on Algebra websites like coolmath.com and did the tutorials and practice problems. On the weekends I took a full practice exam or two and studied the answers solutions to the problems I got wrong.
5. Set a schedule- Everyday after-school I dedicated an hour to ACT prep and like I said any downtime was dedicated to vocabulary flashcards. It is good to learn ten to fifteen new words week, no more. Every weekend I did a practice exam and reviewed the answers. This was about 8-16 hours of work on the weekends. It was a lot of work on top of my weekend job, classes, and outside activities, but I looked at it as for every hour I studied that would equal scholarship money for college.
It was that simple. I did this for four months. No prep classes, no group studying. Of course I recommend tutors, study groups, and prep classes. I just didn’t have money for a tutor or prep class and no one wanted to study as hard as I did. This takes a little self motivation but it can be done. If you have more competencies you need to catch up on. Like basic grammar, Algebra, Geometry, etc…this process may take you a little longer. Please don’t think you can start practicing for the ACT a month in advance and raise your score. Since my study schedule was pretty intense, most students would take about 8 months to do what I did in four. Of course if you need any personalized help I am a math and ACT tutor and I can help set you up on a plan that will fit your needs. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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