ACT tips

Improving Test Scores

The key to improving test scores is to have the student take a full-length practice test. Based upon the results, a long-term plan is developed that involves practice assignments, timing drills, and additional full-length tests. The program is reassessed after each full-length practice test. This is why one-to-one is so effective. The tutor only works on the weaknesses for a specific student. The program is catered to the individual student and not a classroom of students. All of this takes place while leading up to the week of the test. It is not ideal to have gaps while prepping. 

Score improvement occurs after consistently practicing and learning concepts over a long period of time. Before starting a program, a full-length practice test is used as a baseline. The generated report reveals student strengths and weaknesses. For example, on the math section, the diagnostic report can reveal what the student has the most trouble with: radical equations, quadratic equations, slope, linear equations, distance, midpoint, etc.

In addition to knowing fundamental concepts, the student will need to know how to approach certain types of questions:

Know the Test – The first step to any prep program is to ensure the student knows the test. This consists of the following: timing for each section, number of questions, directions for each section, overall format, how the test and certain sections are scored, etc. Being aware of these will eliminate surprises and reduce test day anxiety. Most tests in high school classes are usually an hour long. ACT/SAT tests are new to most students and they usually don’t take tests at this length.

Pacing – Managing time is extremely important. Students may know the answer to every question, but only make it half-way through each section. Through administering hundreds of practice tests, we’ve seen this to be common. Students should plan on not getting stuck on every single question. Move on if a question stumps you. Regardless of the difficultly level, all questions are worth the same (except the new SAT will have an extended math thinking question). On the opposite hand, there are also those that rush and who do not recheck their work; even when there is ten to fifteen minutes left on the clock.   

Write, Bubble, and Erase – Each student can control his or her answer. Make sure to bubble clearly when answering. Also, be sure to erase all of an answer. These mistakes are normally careless errors. If a question is skipped on the current SAT, make sure not to bubble in that skipped space for the next question. Knowing where you are on your answer sheet is important. If you do skip a question, put a star next to it and skip it on your answer sheet. You can go back to it if there is time and it helps to remind you that you skipped that question. Always use a No. 2 pencil and write your essay as legibly as you can. The essay should be written on the lines only. The readers won’t see anything in the extra space margins.   

Make an Educated Guess – The student should answer every question on the ACT and new SAT. On the current SAT, the student needs to choose whether to skip or guess. There is a ¼ point penalty for answering incorrectly on the current SAT. Usually, students should guess on easy to medium questions, if they can eliminate two answers. For more difficult questions, students need to try and eliminate three answers before guessing. Using process of elimination will help narrow down answer choices.

With plenty of practice, students can be prepared to excel on test day!