It is never too early to get a head start on preparing with ACT Test Prep, but a student’s junior year should be the time to batten down the hatches and swab the poopdeck. While some students benefit from preparing their sails in their sophomore year, most students will need at least to stop ashore during their junior year. OK, I'm going to cut out the ship metaphors...maybe.
There are three ingredients your child needs for this critical exam. The more, the tastier... errr merrier.
Each one of these methods are more suitable for some types of learners than for others.
Buy the Book
Practice tests and books are readily available online or at your friendly neighborhood book store or high school. Oftentimes, the books that are sold by ACT prep companies include supplementary materials, such as tips, tricks, and cursory summaries of the four primary subject areas on the exam (English, Reading, Math and Science) with an answer key.
And that's about it. As you can imagine, you're not going to relearn several years of math skills from a few dozen pages of text. So why get the book at all? Exposure. Even if your child is a test ace, it is vital for them to get comfortable with the test format and pacing. If they're going to study by the book, make sure they time themselves! It's over before they know it.
Books are difficult because, let's admit, standardized test prep's a bit bland. Some students need some flavor to eat up the material (can you tell it's close to lunch for me?). Advantage of doing it by the book? It's cheap!
And then there are ACT test prep courses: a tried and true method of knocking that critical composite score up a notch. Test prep courses, like the ones Chicago Academic offers, not only provide practice tests, but they also offer a more detailed test analysis and a variety of testing tools and approaches. The courses come in different varieties-- from small groups (2-3) to larger-sized ones (8-9). Why the variety? Because every learner's different. Some thrive in groups; others love personalization. We also have your financial considerations in mind.
While these courses aren’t for everyone, they are well worth the time spent in order to familiarize a student with the test content and the strategies associated with taking these tests. Students will:
- Engage with an expert instructor
- Review several past exams
- Discuss best practices in strategy for taking on each section
- Help to reconstruct the building blocks necessary to be successful by indentifying particular strengths and weaknesses
You're getting that bang for your buck. With a book, you're not sure what you're getting.
Your Personal Octopus
Of course, you can't beat personalized, custom-tailored tutoring. This really helps your child zero in on their weak points and reach their full scoring potential. With group tutoring, one student may be weak in English, while the other struggles with reading comprehension, and the other can't do geometry. Tutors aren't octopi; they can't help everyone at once. But when it's one tutor at a time, all their energies and efforts are directed.
The one-on-one tutoring that we offer at Chicago Academic is a great way to help students become intimate with the materials. A tutor can work with the student’s strengths and weaknesses to devise a plan for adequate preparation. They can also implement a plan for the whole family to get involved. Our ACT Chicago tutors will not only keep a student organized and on track for the exam, but they can also help to fill in the particular information gaps for each individual student.
In the end, each student is different when it comes to these exams. Colleges know this. One must remember also that the purpose of the ACT and SAT is to measure college preparedness. Even if a student has a high GPA, these test scores will help to really show how prepared they are for the next step in academia. Therefore, making sure a student is truly prepared for this big step will require some degree of preparation, no matter how you slice it. Students and parents should discuss what would work best for them and move on from there. Whether a book will suffice or there is a greater need for a helping hand, this is the time to make that decision.
Check out our E-Book on ACT Prep and Help Your Child Reach Their Fullest Potential