Ways to Achieve 36 and Beyond

Hints and Tips for Performing Well on the ACT

Senior Arabella Maschino is taking the ACT on the 28th of October.

Senior Arabella Maschino is taking the ACT on the 28th of October. "I'm kind of nervous because this test determines how many more scholarships I can apply for," she said.

Senior Arabella Maschino is taking the ACT on the 28th of October. "I'm kind of nervous because this test determines how many more scholarships I can apply for," she said.

Diana Dudenhoeffer, News Editor

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American College Testing (ACT)  became an important part of every school year starting in 1959.  It was meant to test a student’s college preparedness.

  Janice Nance, ACT prep and math teacher says that “Colleges use the ACT as a predictor of success as well as a placement exam.”

 Whether it is fulfilling its objective as something to predict a student’s success  is a whole other can of worms, but one thing is for sure: You will need to take the ACT if you want to go to college.

  The October ACT is on 28, and the deadline for signups has already passed.  The next available ACT is on December 9, and Nance says that the upcoming ACT is one of the busiest, so if students need to take it, they need to sign up as soon as possible because Kickapoo and Glendale testing sites close quickly.

  Juniors and seniors in the district will flock to the city’s high schools on that Saturday morning for four hours of stress and anxiety.  

  If you are interested in lowering that stress and becoming less anxious about the pain of a test that everybody must go through, here are a few tips for ultimate ACT preparedness.

It’s a Mind Game

The first and most important thing you can do in order to prepare for the ACT is to remember that it’s a mind game!  The test is designed to be tricky.  If it was easy, then everybody would do well.  English teacher Nancy Bright Kaufman used to teach ACT prep class.  

  She says that “It’s a business—a company.  They are there to make money off of you.”  It is in the company’s best interests for students to do poorly so that they can make more money, Bright-Kaufman explained.

   If you’re a bad test taker, then you have to go into it knowing that about yourself.  

  There is definitely strategy involved in going well on the ACT, Nance said.  

  She explained that students need to know “time management, how to guess and when to guess.”


Study What You’re Worst At. . .

  It’s obvious that you’d need to study the portions of the ACT in which you lack confidence. There are four mandatory sections of the test: English, Reading, Math and Science.  There is one optional section of the test that costs extra: Writing.

  The English test judges your skill level in grammar, vocabulary and sentence structure.  There are always 10 punctuation questions, and many of them are about the 4 main comma rules.

  The Reading test is based on passage comprehension.  You will be tested on four different passages: humanities, fiction and literary narrative, social sciences, and natural sciences.  

  “The only things that change [from test to test] are the stories; everything else stays the same,” Bright-Kaufman said.

  The Math portion of the test has questions that  range in subject from Algebra 1 to Trigonometry.  

  “[It’s helpful to] review basic geometry and algebra concepts,” Nance said.

  She advises her students to review actual tests so they can get a good idea of what will be on there.  There’s usually around 40 questions about Algebra and Coordinate Geometry, and the remaining 20 or so questions are based around Plane Geometry and Trigonometry.    

The Science test can be the trickiest of them all because the scientific jargon can be intimidating.  However, you do not need  thorough background knowledge in science to do well on the science portion, as it is a reading and comprehension test.

  The writing portion is not mandatory, and Bright-Kaufman explains that “some students mistakenly sign up and pay for the writing portion, but it gives you no extra money . . . Only take the writing portion if your college requires it.”


. . .And What You’re Best At

  Some students get so caught up in studying for one section that they neglect the others.  You need to study for each section, and whether you allot equal amounts of time for studying for each is up to you.

  “Tom Brady wouldn’t go into a football game without watching film after film of the opposing team.  Why would you treat a test worth thousands of dollars any differently?” Bright-Kaufman said, referring to the scholarship opportunities available to those who score high on the ACT.

Go to a Teacher

  If it’s been a semester since you’ve taken a math class or you can’t quite remember the four comma rules, it is highly advised that you go to a teacher!  Teachers are always happy to help, whether it be a quick question about a comma rule or a lengthy conference in which you relearn foiling.  There are also tutors that can assist you with test-taking strategies, and they can help you anticipate what will be on the test.

Take the Practice Tests

  Speaking of anticipating what will be on the tests, there are plenty of resources available in order for you to practice.  

  “The best way to practice for this test is to take lots of practice tests,” Bright-Kaufman said.

  The best places to do so are on and in an ACT preparation class.

Test the Waters

  It may be wise to take the ACT without any goal score.  If you just get your feet wet, you’ll be much more prepared to tackle the test for real next time.  Also, anybody on free or reduced lunches are eligible for 2 fee waivers during their junior and senior years.

Take ACT Prep – Know What You’re Getting Into

  The ACT Preparation class is available during the school year and over summer vacation.  Ms. Nance teaches ACT Prep this year, and her expertise is in the Math section.  

Take the Test Multiple Times

  “Time is not on your side,” Bright-Kaufman said.  “[The test] is designed for you to badly so that you’ll come back . . . And you can take the ACT up to 12 times.”

  If you’re eligible for the fee waivers or if you’re able to fork over $45+ in hopes of increasing your score, taking the ACT multiple times is your best bet.

 It takes practice to make sure you have enough time to answer all the questions, Bright-Kaufman added.  And even though nobody likes to practice because it’s boring and painful, “nothing feels better than getting $15,000,” Bright-Kaufman said.

Bring the Essentials

  When you go to take the test, Nance recommends that you bring multiple pencils and a calculator that you’re familiar with.  Double check that the calculator is fully charged, and add in formulae if you’d benefit from them.

  Bright Kaufman said that there is a 10-15 minute break in between the second and third tests, so bringing water and a snack would be wise.

  One thing students might not think to bring is a jacket.  The schools can be cold, and you don’t know the location of your testing site, and whether you’ll be seated right under the air vent.

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