Students go to great lengths to ‘ace’ the ACT

When it comes to the ACT, students are getting their act together.

The American College Testing, or ACT, is a standardized test for high school achievement and college admissions.Ohio graduation requirements state that, starting with the class of 2018, high school juniors in Ohio will be required to take the ACT or SAT. All in all, students have a lot riding on a good ACT score. But that’s easier said than done.

2014 ACT statistics show that the average composite score is 22 for students in Ohio.  Compare this to the University of Cincinnati whose academic profile suggests that the middle 50% of the fall freshman class had a range of 22-26. Northwestern University in Chicago has an average composite ACT score of 33.

Students need to master the art of acing the ACT if they want to get into the college of their choice. So
how exactly can that be done? Well for one, it’s about reinforcing concepts learned at school, according to Honors English and Visual Literacy teacher Kristin Stoll.

“I think tFullSizeRender (18).jpghat a lot of the material that is on the standardized test is being taught at school but also some of the skills are skills that students have been working on for years,” Stoll said. “For example, reading and students have been practicing the skill of reading for a very long time. The content on the test may be more difficult, but it’s still that skill that they’ve been mastering over and over for years that they’re being tested on.”

A major factor that influences how students perform on the ACT is time. Senior Grace Huang, who got a 36 on the test says that staying stress-free is the best way to go into the test.

“I think time is a big issue,” Huang said. “You need to make sure that you can get the test done in time and answer questions to the best of your ability. Something that really helps you do well on the ACT is if you can read fast. A lot of the ACT is just a reading test.”

Although the ACT national and state data for 2015 hasn’t arrived yet, the stakes are high. According to the Columbus Dispatch, 77 students of the class of 2014 in Ohio scored a 36. But having a plan is only the first step. According to Maine, when preparing for the ACT, one should be methodical.

“I basically look at the patterns,” Maine said. “What’s going to be on there, what’s likely to be on there and how to approach certain types of questions. I can use what they’re asking me to my advantage. That way, I know that half the answers are wrong just off the bat.”

And then there’s the fact that practice makes perfect. For junior Anamika Shah, who also got a perfect score the last time she took the ACT, practicing means not only being familiar with the content, but also the know-how of taking the test.

“I think practice makes perfect,” Shah said. “The more familiar you are with not only the concepts but how ACT lays them out for you and the mindset that they want you to be in to answer their questions or read the passages, etc. It’s different from the SAT. Something that they want you to focus on is how to take their test as opposed to other tests. It’s definitely more about test taking skills than actual content.”

Huang said her most important piece of advice was to stay calm;staying stress-free is the best way to go into the test.

“Dont worry too much,” Huang said. “You can take it multiple times, so don’t stress about that. Think through the questions because a lot of the questions are very simple, they just ask you what’s in the text. I think people overthink them.”

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