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Essential Guide to Becoming a Star at the ACT

Posted by Carrie Gibori on Tue, Mar 11, 2014 @ 07:03 AM

Getting back an ACT score that is less-than-stellar can be a bit of a self-esteem killer for students. First of all, remind your child that this test isn’t a gauge of intelligence, it is a test on test-taking. I've devised a step-by-step method to help your child achieve their ACT goal.

Become an ACT Star

It happens a lot some very brilliant students can get mediocre scores. For instance, the Science section has nothing to do with actual science knowledge—it is chart reading ability, a learned skill! So they shouldn't stress about it. That being said, there are many ways for your child to get their score to where they want it to be.

    1. Look at the scores for each section, and determine if one of them could have been a fluke. For instance, if your child did well on past English practice sections, and not so hot on the real deal, there could have been some confounding factors in the score.
      Consider this—since English is first, perhaps (s)he wasn’t totally awake yet, and bombed the beginning. Or maybe your child was really hungry during the Reading section, and couldn’t focus at all. Have them try to think back—there may be a reason outside of ability for the low score.
    2. If your child just got their ACT results back, figure out when the next test will be. Registration is often very early, so they’ll have to determine pretty quickly whether or not they want to take the test again. You could begin talking with your child on what steps to take in preparing for the next test.
    3. Determine a realistic goal. Let’s say your child’s score was a 24. Wanting to get a 34 on the next try, while ambitious isn’t all that practical. Try aiming for three to four point boosts on each subsequent retest (be it practice or the actual exam). Also, if they got a 30 in Science but a 20 in Math, it will be much easier to boost a score from 20 than it will from 30 because of how ACT scoring works.
    4. Figure out what is the best strategy for your child. Every test taker is different—I for one flourish with a bowl of cereal, a cup of coffee (black), and a ton of nervous anxiety. But they may not be ideal for your child (particularly the coffee part). 
    5. When they are ready, have your child take a practice test, but have them take it very slowly. Also, for each question, have them write a justification on why they chose certain answers and didn’t choose others (particularly for English, Science, and Reading). Tell them to make sure to show all their work for Math.
If they are unable to show work, justify answers, or correctly answer the question, then obviously this is a concept they need to spend more time on. Also, in the answer key in the back of the booklet, it will specify what type of question each question is (for instance, Math has Pre-Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry and more). This allows for specific targeting of pain points. Check out this link for more information on each section's content breakdown.
  1. Once the pain points are discovered, attack!! Our tutors at Chicago Academic can help greatly at this point. They are battle-worn test takers with great degrees from prestigious institutions who are ready to help your child show the ACT who’s boss. Our SCORES system and ACT test prep achieve results.
  2. After they study up on what they were having issues with, take a practice test at normal speed. Their scores should improve if they brushed up on their understanding. If not, re-determine pain points, acquire materials to study, and repeat! Once your child starts hitting their target and getting more confident, they 


If you have any comments, concerns,  tips, or links to good ACT  resources, feel free to comment below!

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Topics: ACT Test Prep, ACT Test Prep Tutor in Chicago, ACT tutor in Chicago