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I can't speak for every tutor, but I know that if you work with me I have certain expectations of you in order to ensure that you will see the greatest possible improvement in your score. Luckily, they are really quite simple, and adhering to them makes a huge difference. I've attached a PDF version to summarize my Top 5 Test Prep Essentials that you can download, but I will review each of them below too.    For starters, I may be stating the obvious, but you absolutely must complete all homework assignments. All my assignments are tailored to your current performance and designed to help you achieve your goal score. Many students aspire to achieve dramatic improvements, and I fully believe such improvements are possible. BUT, in order to achieve such goals, it is imperative that you complete every homework assignment. If there is a notable gap between your current score and your goal score, that is perfectly ok, but it makes the homework that much more important... read more

The ACT stands for American College Testing. It is a national college admissions examination that consists of subject area tests in English, Mathematics, Reading, Science and an optional Writing Test.   The ACT is a curriculum-based achievement test, measuring what a student has learned in school. There are several strategies you can use to help you better prepare for the ACT.   For example: Practice Pacing Yourself Become Familiar with the Test Directions for Each Test Read Each Question Carefully Answer the Easy Questions First Answer Every Question Review your Work Bubble in Groups   If you know testing is one of your weaknesses, consider getting a tutor or joining a test preparation course.  

Between ACT and SAT preparation, strategies may differ in some specific ways, yet the overall objective is the same:  build confidence, reduce time, improve accuracy.   Confidence ... why?  Does confidence matter?   Yes!  Here's why --   1 - Neurochemically. Confidence lets us give the thinking brain its proper attention.  When we feel anxious or otherwise flooded with emotion, the stress / alert chemicals actually interfere with cognition.   2 - Cognitively.  Confidence lets us assess competing options more effectively, in order to identify and take calculated risks while avoiding impulsivity.   3 - Intuitively.  Confidence provides feedback to let us know when we are appropriately prepared.  When we feel a lack of confidence, the feeling, itself, indicates that we have overlooked something important.  When we have fully prepared and are sure we have done so, the feeling of confidence... read more

When I first took the SAT, I sat in a classroom with desks that were connected to chairs. One problem: these desks were less than the size of a piece of paper. Whenever I tried to flip pages, my materials fell on the floor, my pencil rolled off my desk, and I had to spend the time flipping each individual page rather than keeping my booklet open. This wasted a lot of time, and I'm sure I could have done better if the desk hadn't been stressing me out so much. Even though most people don't think about it, it's important to know where you are taking the SAT or ACT. Is it at a high school? Or a college where desks might be much smaller? If you can't go check out the testing site in person, try to talk to people in your area to see what they thought of the site. They might have some productive advice: "There's no AC in the building" or "the chairs were very comfortable". You'll never know until you ask. The other thing I recommend is to take the test... read more

Hi all!   If you're reading this then you probably just got the same nasty surprise as I did earlier this month.  The ACT is changing the writing prompt starting in September, and students need to shift gears, A.S.A.P.!    What changed?   Let's start with timing. Students now get 40 minutes for the Writing Test.  They'll need the extra ten minutes, because the prompt, writing task, and planning stages have all been expanded.    remember the old prompt?  Sure, you've been teaching it up until a few hours, days, or maybe weeks ago.  It included 4-5 sentences on a subject having to do with education and schooling, subjects at the forefront of high school students' minds.  The first sentence introduced a problem faced by students or schools.  The second and third sentences introduced two sides of an argument, pro- and con-, and an argument supporting each side.  Finally, the prompt ended with a... read more

There are many great texts, blog posts and other resources to help students prepare for the SAT, ACT and similar examinations. For my own part, when working with a student who is trying to prepare for a test of this nature, we approach the battle from two fronts; test-taking strategy and subject skill.   The first thing to do -- and this should be done at least a year in advance -- is to visit the website of whichever test one is taking and learn about the test, itself. The testing organization sites contain important information about the test content, sample questions, as well as general advice for successful testing. Many either contain or at least link to complete (and free) practice tests.   When preparing for a test of nearly any kind, the preparation should mimic -- and, if possible, exceed the difficulty of -- the anticipated test. Time yourself strictly, working through sample tests with realistic questions. That is, do the practice sessions as if... read more

(1) Getting ready for the ACT can be difficult, but is imperative in reaching for that higher score. If you try to wing it, I guarantee you will not get the results you're hoping for. 2) Don’t cram.  Reviewing the test prep book and taking the practice tests are time-consuming efforts. Plan your preparation for at least a month or even two, setting aside one to three hours per day.  3) Take the practice tests, allowing yourself the amount of time that the real test gives you for each section.  If you have trouble finishing in time, focus on speeding up answering each question.  You can also practice taking each test and giving yourself 5 minutes less than the actual time you'll be given on test day. 4) Don't look at the answers in the back of the book until you've answered all questions in all sections of the practice test. Trust your own knowledge and thought process. (5) When preparing for the reading section, read the questions first.  Once... read more

Back in the day, where you wanted to go to college dictated which standardized test you took. Colleges in the midwest generally required the ACT, while those on the coasts wanted the SAT. These days, the score conversions are commonplace enough that most colleges will accept either one. So how do you choose which one to take? Well, there are a few differences to keep in mind. Format Most of the differences between the tests are matters of format. The SAT is comprised of ten sections ranging from 12 to 35 minutes each. The sections alternate between reading comprehension, math, and writing, and the whole test begins with a 25-minute timed essay. One of the ten sections is an “experimental” section, which is not scored as part of your test and is a chance for the test-makers to try out new ideas on a group of students. The ACT, in contrast, is four 75-minute sections, one for each subject. The ACT does not include an essay, but it does include a “science” section (which... read more

Schedule for ACT Crash Course: Lesson 1: Test Basics, ACT Reading Strategies Lesson 2: ACT Reading Question Types Lesson 3: Difficult ACT Reading Passages Lesson 4: Punctuation and Sentence Structure Errors (Basics, Commas, Apostrophes, Run-Ons) Lesson 5: Grammar Errors (Verb, Pronoun, Modifier, Comparison, Coordination) Lesson 6: Rhetorical Skills (Strategy, Organization, Style) and Essay ACT English/Reading Basics: Scored out of 36   Reading Section: (35 minutes) 40 Questions 4 Passages Prose Natural Science Humanities Social Studies English Section: (45 Minutes) 75 Questions Usage/Mechanics Punctuation 13% Grammar/Usage 16% Sentence Structure 24% Rhetorical Skills Rhetorical Strategy 16% Rhetorical Organization 15% Rhetorical Style 16% Writing Section: (30 minutes) 1 essay prompt Scored out of 12 and combined with English score 1 point given for each... read more

It's the fall season, which means students are back in school! Don't let the rush of new classes and uniting with friends stop you from preparing for upcoming college entrance exams. Seniors, this is your last chance to improve your scores if you want to start college next fall, and, Juniors, get a jump start on some awesome scores with test prep tutoring and at-home practice tests.     Helpful Hint: Set aside 10 - 15 minutes a day for SAT and ACT words and definition quizzes -- it will pay off in a big way!

It's time to look ahead and plan your weekends.  You can still register for the September test this week.  This information is found on the ACT website.  Do you need a course of study to get ready for the ACT?  I offer personalized study plans to motivated students, so that you can get going the right direction, on your timeline, even if you decide not to use a tutor.   Test Date: September 13, 2014 Registration Deadline:  August 8, 2014 (Late Fee Required):  August 9–22, 2014   Test Date: October 25, 2014 Registration Deadline: September 19, 2014 (Late Fee Required): September 20–October 3, 2014   Test Date: December 13, 2014 Registration Deadline: November 7, 2014 (Late Fee Required): November 8–21, 2014   Test Date: February 7, 2015* Registration Deadline: January 9, 2015 (Late Fee Required): January 10–16, 2015   Test Date: April 18, 2015 Registration... read more

Test anxiety can impact everyone.  However, with a few strategies, you can overcome these anxieties and excel on your next standardized assessment.   Should you guess? This is a choice you will need to make based on the assessment you are taking.  For certain tests, such as the Praxis, you are scored based only on your correct answers.  However, keep the guessing to a minimum. On the SAT, you lose 1/4 of a point for an incorrect answer, but if you leave it blank, you lose 1 point.  So guessing should be used as a last resort.  Obviously, you should not guess on too many questions. Which leads me to...   Should you omit questions? Only skip questions you find extremely difficult.  Use other strategies to help you determine if you can, in fact, answer these questions before omitting them.  However, do not spend too much time using these strategies, as time is limited.   Should you... read more

Hi! I'm Jennifer J.,  B.S., MEd, JD, PHD ABD WyzAnt Tutor In my blog I will tell you everything you need to know about the "start-to-finish" process of preparing and taking the SAT and ACT exams. that will get you into the college or university of your choice.    Some Background About Me: I teach classes and tutor privately for the PSAT, SAT and ACT. I have taught these test preparation classes since 1999. I taught for Princeton Review, and then started my own business, Pathfinders College Preparatory. Since then, I have amassed my own collection of actual SAT tests, answer sheets, practice material, etc. I work with anywhere from one to four students at a time. I will tutor you privately in your home or at another location.   Commonly Asked Q & As:   Below are some commonly asked questions and answers about preparing for the SAT, the PSAT, and the ACT exams:     Q:... read more

 I recognize that students learn differently–so there is no one- size-fits-all approach.  I customize my services to meet the individual needs of each of our students, assessing their strengths and weaknesses and providing relevant support.  In addition to tutoring, I confer directly with parents/guardians on a regular basis and contact teachers about the progress of my students to customize my lessons based feedback I receive.   Three Reasons to choose a best fit service   1.  Best tutors (I) have the ability to make learning material to be understood by their students in a way they conceptualized during academic years. Best tutors are NOT always top academic performer! It is very similar to top athletes are not good coaches. Psychologically speaking, best tutors have the intuition for students they coach or mentor they experienced earlier by themselves or by their children... read more

How to avoid the "freeze" during a quiz, test, or exam: First, let's talk about what "the freeze" is. The freeze is usually a sort of momentary panic, that makes it very hard to concentrate and focus and solve problems. Does that sound at all familiar? Many students experience it at least once in their lives, and some students face it frequently. When we have a moment of panic, our adrenaline kicks in. We go into "fight or flight" mode, and certain parts of the brain are chemically over-stimulated by the adrenaline. When we are in "fight or flight" mode, it is very hard to concentrate and do challenging problems like math and science problems. Sometimes it takes a long time to calm down and get the adrenaline out of our system. A strong panic can wipe out our best thinking skills for an entire test period, and give us a score that does not represent our actual level of understanding at all. We can actually know most of the material,... read more

How to avoid the "freeze" during a quiz, test, or exam:   First, let's talk about what "the freeze" is. The freeze is usually a sort of momentary panic, that makes it very hard to concentrate and focus and solve problems. Does that sound at all familiar? Many students experience it at least once in their lives, and some students face it frequently. When we have a moment of panic, our adrenaline kicks in. We go into "fight or flight" mode, and certain parts of the brain are chemically overstimulated by the adrenaline. That makes it hard to focus.   When we are in "fight or flight" mode, it is very hard to concentrate and do challenging problems like math and science problems. Sometimes it takes a long time to calm down and get the adrenaline out of our system. A strong panic can wipe out our best thinking skills for an entire test period, and give us a score that does not represent our actual level of understanding at... read more

In preparing to take and excel on the ACT Test, it is very important and very advisable for the student to obtain and prepare from an ACT Study Guide, as opposed to going in and taking the ACT test "cold" with little or no preparation.     Study Guides offer many hints and strategies which, if the student will take a little time to learn those techniques, he or she will assuredly gain points on the ACT test.  Study Guides also offer practice tests with answers so a student can check to see if their answers are correct, or if not, why not.  All of that constitutes a learning experience.   The ACT test does not measure a student's calculating ability, rather, their thinking ability and reasoning ability. For example, by examining the 5 answer choices on any particular question, probably at least 2 and possibly 3 or 4 answer choices can be ruled out for not making sense in relation to the question being asked or the data being presented... read more

Which test to take or if he should take both tests is determined by what colleges he is interested in. Generally even the top schools in the Midwest are looking for high ACT scores, and writing the essay is a plus. The big schools on the coasts generally want the SAT. (Its essay is not optional.) However, to maximize your investment you MUST investigate each individual school's expectations of its incoming freshman class. If both tests are indicated on the basis of what I've just said, then my counsel is to prep and sit for the SAT first, then the ACT.   You may even want to schedule one of each test before investing in paid test prep. It's enormously helpful to me to have that baseline already drawn.   On test dates occurring in December, April, and June, it's even possible to obtain a copy of the exact test and your students' answers. This request is called Test Information Release (TIR). You can request a TIR at the time that you register for the... read more

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