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ACT Preparation

What is the ACT?

The American College Testing or ACT exam is a test given to high school students mainly in the central United States.  The exam is designed to test high school students’ readiness for college in four different subjects: English, Mathematics, Reading and Science. The exam also offers an optional writing section that many students elect to participate in. The exam should be taken by any student interested in attending college in the central United States.  Certain colleges and universities on the east and west coast of the United States prefer their students take the ACT Exam, so check your potential colleges’ website to determine what exam(s) they want their prospective students to take. General Information There are four mandatory sections on the ACT exam: a 35 minute; 40 question English section, a 60 minute; 60 question Mathematics section, a 35 minute; 40 question Reading section and a 35 minute; 40 question Science section. All of the questions in these four sections are multiple choice. Because there is no penalty for wrong answers students should plan on answering every question on this exam, even if they are only guessing the correct answer on some questions. Because this test can be more stressful than the average test it is important to have a clear strategy for taking the exam going into the test. If you decide to go with tutoring through Vadnais Heights Tutoring Services we will focus on both important test taking strategies (the pacing for each section, how to eliminate incorrect answers when guessing, utilizing your resources on the exam, and knowing the rules and layout of the exam) and how to study for the content of each specific section. The Writing Section The Writing section is 30 minutes long and has the student write an essay to answer a question. The Writing section is optional so you need to ask yourself if want to take it or not.  Many colleges and universities require that you take the Writing section, so you should check websites of the colleges that you are applying to, to see if this is a requirement for any of the schools you are considering.  Even if none of the colleges that you are applying to require that you take the Writing section, it can be a good idea to do so anyway. That’s because colleges see initiative in students that take the Writing section, even though they don’t have to. Another reason that you may want to take this section is that it can boost your ACT score. When you take the Writing section your scores for the English and Writing sections are combined into a composite English/Writing score. Statistics show that this tends to boost the overall ACT score for most students who take the ACT Writing section. This is because most students score better on this Writing section than they do on the English section. If you decide to go with Vadnais Heights Tutoring Service, I will provide you with detailed instruction and examples on how to boost your ACT Writing score.  Practice ACT Exam If you have decided to take the ACT Exam, the next crucial step is to take an ACT practice exam to see where you stand. A link to download a PDF of a free ACT practice exam can be found below. After printing off this exam, it’s important to take it in the most realistic setting possible. So make sure that you block off at least 3 hours; more if you are planning on taking the Writing section, to take this practice test.
When taking each section stick to the time limit and use only what you can bring to the actual ACT exam (i.e. a pencil and for the mathematics section a calculator). After taking the exam mark the answers that you got correct in each section. Then, using the scoring formula at the bottom of each answer key, score each section. Next you’ll want to set a realistic goal to improve these scores.  Typically students can improve their overall ACT scores 2-4 points between the times that they take the practice exam and the actual exam. However, this number depends upon a few key factors: 1) How much time and effort the student puts into studying for the exam Obviously students will do better on the ACT if the prepare for it diligently over a longer period of time. Hiring a knowledgeable tutor will help students stay focused on their goals in the weeks preceding the exam. Vadnais Heights Tutoring Services provides students with guidance so that can stay on track while preparing for this exam.  I also have the knowledge of the individual sections to make sure that students are studying for this exam correctly. 2) Whether or not the student is using successful test taking strategies to answer the questions These exams are not all together straight forward.  They can be very stressful, which can limit a student’s performance. That is why it is important to know the exam inside and out and a have time proven strategy to be successful on this exam.  Vadnais Heights Tutoring Services provides students with the knowledge and strategies they need to be successful when taking this exam. 3) The amount of practice the student gets in taking full length proctored ACT exams It can be seen that for most students, their score increases with the number of times they attempt to take the ACT exam. This is because the test situation of taking this exam is very stressful for most students. As they take the exam more and more they become more prepared for the stress and length of exam, so they perform better.  But taking the ACT many times can be very expensive, so I offer an alternative solution. When you practice taking the ACT exam, practice for the stress. Make your practice exam conditions as realistic as possible. Vadnais Heights Tutoring Services can help students do these simulations in their own home.  I can provide tips to make your practice exam setting more realistic. I can proctor the exam over the internet to simulate a more realistic test setting.  I can provide students with more free practice exams like the one seen below if they are having trouble finding them.
Link to free Practice ACT Exam