As parents, we know that an excellent ACT score is a critical factor for college admissions and for scholarship awards. Unfortunately, even students in advanced placement classes with exceptional grades may not perform well during standardized tests. Use these strategies to help your teen achieve a higher score on the ACT:
Tip #1: Time Management is Key
- Becoming familiar with the format of the test saves time; knowing the directions before the test begins allows more time to solve problems.
- Know basic math really well. “Just because you can use a calculator on the ACT, does not mean you don’t have to prepare,” said Diven Patel, owner of Kumon of Montgomery, “Teaching students to do mental math builds their work pace, math awareness and more importantly, confidence.”
- Trust your gut. Since there is no penalty for guessing on the ACT, it does not hurt to guess when pressed for time.
Tip #2: Learn How to Decode the Questions
- Learn math-speak. (This is helpful for homework too!) Words like percent = out of 100, difference =subtraction, more than = addition, unknowns = variables such as x or y.
- Science section. First understand the question being asked; then look at the graphs.
- English section. Realize that historically, the answer “No Change” will be the correct answer 15 to 18 times (meaning the underlined section is correct as written).
Tip #3: Focus on Your Weakest Area
- This may seem a bit obvious, but students tend to focus on areas that they excel. However, the biggest gain of points will be in the weaker areas.
- Focusing on the weak area is a great preparation strategy since focusing on the entire test is a bit daunting for most students.
Tip #4: Take a Prep Course
- Learn proven strategies from professionals.
Tip #5: Third Time’s a Charm
- Typically students with above average scores tend to take the ACT three or more times.
- Some parents have reported that changing the test location has helped their students increase their scores.