ACT Readiness


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Test taking tips and strategies for all 4 sections of the ACT!

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ACT Readiness

  2. 2. The ACT – The Facts <ul><li>It’s a curriculum-based but not necessarily a content-based test </li></ul><ul><ul><li>It requires baseline knowledge and high-order thinking skills on ACT’s College Readiness Standards and the National Curriculum Survey . If you teach to the standards, you’re teaching to the test </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The test is more about interpretation, analysis and process than content memorization – especially in the Science section </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>E.g., a tester is not required to memorize the “the periodic table” but is required to understand the role of its elements </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>This said, you do need to know some baseline content. E.g., it doesn’t give you an algebraic function like you may see on a SAT but expects the tester to have this knowledge at his or her disposal </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. The ACT – Rigor Means Ready <ul><li>There is no question that the best way to prepare for the ACT assessment is through rigorous coursework based on the College Readiness Standards and a solid ACT score correlates to a successful college freshman experience. </li></ul><ul><li>For this reason, preparation for an ACT is not just preparation for a college entrance exam but rather for college coursework itself since it’s tied to College Readiness and your ability to succeed as a freshman in college </li></ul>
  4. 4. Take Rigorous Core Courses <ul><li>English - 4 years </li></ul><ul><ul><li>English 9, English 10, English 11, English 12 </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Math - 3 years + </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, Trigonometry, Calculus (no calculus on the ACT but the high-order skills required significantly impact the ACT math score. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Natural Sciences - 3 years + </li></ul><ul><ul><li>General/Physical/Earth Science, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Social Sciences - 3 years + </li></ul><ul><ul><li>American History, World History, American Government, Economics, Geography, Psychology </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Take the right courses, get the right score
  6. 6. Take the right courses, get the right score
  7. 7. Using your score to improve skills and understanding! <ul><li>16-19 Score Range </li></ul><ul><li>Solve routine one-step arithmetic problems, such as single-step percent, and calculate a simple average of whole numbers </li></ul><ul><li>Perform computations on data from tables and graphs </li></ul><ul><li>20-23 Score Range </li></ul><ul><li>Solve routine two-step or three-step arithmetic problems involving concepts, such as rate and proportion, tax added, percentage off, computing an average with negative integers, and computing with a given average </li></ul><ul><li>Translate from one representation of data to another (e.g., a bar graph to a circle graph) </li></ul>Describes the skills within a score range that a student is likely to know Suggestions to strengthen skills and understanding College Readiness Standards <ul><li>Activities that may benefit students: </li></ul><ul><li>Do multistep computations with rational numbers </li></ul><ul><li>Gather, organize, display, and analyze data in a variety of ways </li></ul>Skill-building
  8. 8. And statements that provide suggestions to progress to a higher level of achievement Statements that describe what students are likely to know and be able to do... ACT’s Standards for Transition helps students improve scores
  9. 9. The Goal of the ACT <ul><li>To enable a student to truly illustrate his/her college and career readiness and mastery of core content unencumbered by the barriers inherent to standardized tests, including time sensitivity, test management, fatigue, pressure, and unfamiliarity with the exam </li></ul><ul><li>Fortunately, there are non-cognitive strategies that are systemic to standardized tests that can enable testers to better illustrate their true abilities so they can turn their “poor testing into a positive” </li></ul>
  10. 10. The Ultimate Goal of this Preparation <ul><li>To put the test-taker in a position to control the test rather than letting the test control the test-taker </li></ul>It’s all about tester control
  12. 12. Since it’s Curriculum-Based, it is Somewhat Predictable Since the exam draws from a body of knowledge that doesn’t substantially change over time, it is limited in the variety of questions it can ask. Therefore, knowledge of the College Readiness Standards is the test’s best preparation
  13. 13. Predictability = Points <ul><li>Since the test only changes in subtle ways you can determine your strengths, weaknesses and patterns </li></ul><ul><li>MATH </li></ul><ul><li>33 algebra questions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>14 pre-algebra </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>10 elementary algebra 9 intermediate algebra </li></ul></ul><ul><li>23 geometry questions: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>14 plane geometry </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>9 coordinate geometry </li></ul></ul><ul><li>4 Trigonometry questions </li></ul><ul><li>Know what to study and what to invest your time in </li></ul>
  14. 14. Punctuation 10 ques. Grammar and Usage 12 ques. Sentence Structure 18 ques. Rhetorical Strategy 12 ques. Organization 11 ques. Style 12 ques. 75 items, 45 minutes ACT English Test Content
  15. 15. Bubble in Blocks <ul><li>Answer the questions in blocks of ten on your test and then transfer to the bubble sheet in one action – this shaves off about 8 seconds per question, which may translate into a tester’s ability to answer an additional TWO questions per section, which may translate to time for an additional two questions </li></ul><ul><li>Start answering one-to-one at the five minute mark </li></ul><ul><li>Reserve the last couple of minutes to make sure all your bubbles are filled in (no penalty for guessing) </li></ul>
  16. 16. Letter-of-the-Day <ul><li>No guessing penalty </li></ul><ul><li>Go into the test with a Letter-of-the-Day already determined. No letter is more correct than any other (no “Ouija Board” guessing) </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t guess yourself right out of your “guaranteed” 20% to 25% </li></ul><ul><li>If you’ve used Process-of-Elimination (POE) to eliminate your “Letter-of-the-day” then randomly guess from what’s left (now you have a 24.5% to 33.3% chance) </li></ul>
  17. 17. SACRIFICE TO SUCCEED <ul><li>215 questions on the test. Answer 125 correctly and you achieve the national mean. On most tests, 55% correct equals a fail. On the ACT, 55% represents the national mean. The key is determining the “right” questions to spend your time on </li></ul><ul><li>Therefore, it’s important to recognize and answer the easier questions correctly while saving the most difficult questions for last. Test questions “basically” and slightly goe from easiest to hardest although this can be personal and there are exception that we’ll discuss </li></ul><ul><li>In other words, you sometimes need to sacrifice to succeed. Recognize the difficult questions, save them, guess if unsure, and live to fight another, more winnable battle </li></ul>
  18. 18. Three Pass System Now-Later-Never: TRIAGE <ul><li>Do NOT necessarily answer the questions in order </li></ul><ul><li>Do the questions you know that you know first, even if their “supposed to be more difficult” </li></ul><ul><li>Bubble in your “letter-of-the-day” for the ones you KNOW you DON’T know </li></ul><ul><li>Circle questions that you’re not sure about but want to leave some time for at the end to give another try. Don’t get stubborn and try to work tough questions out on your first pass </li></ul><ul><li>If you get stuck midstream on a question, DON’T get stubborn. You’re probably not going to have an “Ah Ha” moment but you might on a second pass with fresh eyes. </li></ul><ul><li>By answering the easy questions on your first pass, you’ll have more confidence during your second pass </li></ul>
  19. 19. Process of Elimination (POE) <ul><li>Incorrect answers may be easier to spot and eliminate than your ability to work out the correct answer </li></ul><ul><li>Which of the following alternatives to the underlined portion is LEAST acceptable? </li></ul><ul><li>A. Similar to </li></ul><ul><li>B. Closely related to </li></ul><ul><li>C. Separate from </li></ul><ul><li>D. Resembling </li></ul><ul><li>A,B and D are too similar and subjective </li></ul><ul><li>Answers that too close can’t be correct </li></ul>
  20. 20. More POE <ul><li>The test does have some distracter answers, so when you think you’re making a good guess, you may be picking the exact wrong answer they want you to </li></ul>Based on the passage, what does the author mean by the word “diorama?” A. Dramatic B. Miniature C. Equal D. Theatrical A and D may be distracters since they could could both be related to logical conclusions you could draw from Diorama.
  22. 22. Math Timing <ul><li>Questions “tend” to proceed from easier to more difficult although this distinction can be largely personal. You must recognize what’s easier or harder for YOU regardless of its number </li></ul><ul><li>The test will typically throw in one REALLY difficult question/s early to slow you down and cause frustration </li></ul><ul><li>Typically, you can judge difficulty by how many steps are involved: one or two; vs. two or three; vs. three or more </li></ul>
  23. 23. Hard Question 41.Four carpenters each built an average of 42 chairs last week. If no chairs were left uncompleted, and if Peter, who built 50 chairs, built the greatest number of chairs, what is the least number of chairs one of the carpenters could have built, if no carpenter built a fractional number of chairs? Question 22 has two steps whereas question 41 has four steps. Therefore, question 41 might be a good one to save Medium Question 22.Four carpenters built an average of 42 chairs each last week. If Cynthia built 36 chairs, Nancy built 74 chairs, and Kevin built 13 chairs, how many chairs did Peter build?
  24. 24. Bypass the Bogs - Math <ul><li>Skip the questions (on your first pass) that you know are tough for YOU. What’s tough varies from person to person </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t spend five-minutes to miss number seven, leaving yourself less time to devote to numbers 28, 29, and 30, which may be appreciably easier </li></ul><ul><li>Determine question difficulty early (i.e., is it a one-step, two-step or three step problem) </li></ul><ul><li>Know your natural strengths and weaknesses. I.e., you might be great at geometric slope questions but very poor at cosmic algebra, where you’re not necessarily solving for x </li></ul>
  25. 25. Math: Now, Later, Never <ul><li>First Pass : You’re sure you know how to do it </li></ul><ul><li>Second Pass : You think you know how to do it so you give it a quick try but you probably circle it and wait until a second pass </li></ul><ul><li>Third pass : You’re sure you don’t know the answer, so you bubble in the letter-of-the-day and you “might” take another shot, time allowing </li></ul><ul><li>By doing all the easier questions on the first pass, you gain confidence going into the second pass </li></ul>
  26. 26. What Calculator to Use <ul><li>Ideally, use a TI-83 </li></ul><ul><li>TI-89 and TI-92s are not allowed </li></ul>
  27. 27. Plugging in and Backsolving <ul><li>When asked to solve for x, then try “working backwards” from your answers choices (assuming you don’t know the equation) always starting with the middle answer choice, this way you’ll never have to plug in more than two choices </li></ul><ul><li>When not asked to solve for a particular variable you can “plug-in” reasonable numbers </li></ul>
  28. 28. 2 . If $600 was deposited in a bank account for one year and earned interest of $42, what was the interest rate? F . 6.26% G . 7.00% H . 8.00% I . 9.00% K . 9.50% <ul><li>If you know the equation, use it. If you don’t know the equation, then backsolve from the answers </li></ul><ul><li>Start with H so depending on the answer you only have to work in one direction </li></ul><ul><li>Does 8% of 600 = $42? No – it equals 48 so you’ll want to move down to 7% </li></ul><ul><li>Does 7% of 600 = $42? Yes – it does equal 42 so you have your answer </li></ul>Backsolving
  30. 30. Prose Fiction 25% Social Sciences 25% Humanities 25% Natural Science 25% 40 items, 35 minutes ACT Reading Test Content
  31. 31. <ul><li>Testers typically find that one type of passage is consistently more difficult for them than the other three, typically by up to 20%. Save this difficult passage for last </li></ul><ul><li>The toughest passages are usually either prose fictions (sub-text, metaphor, allegory, etc.) or natural science (unfamiliar terminology) but, again, this is very personal </li></ul>Know Your Strengths
  32. 32. Skip to Score <ul><li>Testers have approximately 9 minutes per passage if they’re going to attempt all four. With this time pressure and the existence of a “tough” passage, testers will typically make several careless errors while rushing through easier passages just to get to the tough passage, which they’ll typically do very poorly on regardless of the amount of time they invest </li></ul><ul><li>If testers choose to concentrate on three passages, they have almost 12 minutes per passage, thus they’ll probably make fewer careless errors. Assuming the tester guesses into 25% on the tough passage, this tester will achieve a score in the top 10 percentile of the country by only concentrating on three passages and guessing on the fourth </li></ul><ul><li>Of course, this strategy must be used with discretion dependent upon the tester’s realistic target score </li></ul>
  33. 33. The Loop <ul><li>Find the critical words and phrases in the questions (don’t actually read the question) </li></ul><ul><li>Find those same critical words and phrases in the passage so you know to slow down </li></ul><ul><li>Skim the passage and note the main idea of each paragraph. You’re not reading for discrete information but rather for main idea </li></ul><ul><li>Practice the “loop.” </li></ul>
  34. 34. Extremes are Inexcusable <ul><li>ACT is careful to avoid correct answers that represent extreme views </li></ul><ul><li>Preferred Answer Choice words: </li></ul><ul><li>may, can, should, usually, some </li></ul><ul><li>Questionable Answer Choice Words: </li></ul><ul><li>always, never, will, must, unquestionably </li></ul>
  35. 35. 18. Based on the passage, how does the author feel about the work of Langston Hughes? A . He was the greatest black author of his time B . His appeal was universal C . He was one of the greatest authors of the 20 th century D . His work only appealed to Americans
  37. 37. Punctuation 13% Grammar and Usage 16% Sentence Structure 24% Rhetoric Strategy 16% Organization 15% Style 16% 75 items, 45 minutes ACT English Test Content
  38. 38. <ul><li>Do the questions in order leaving the Rhetorical questions for last (if for no other reason than rhetorical questions are typically more time consuming than the other types of questions) </li></ul>Refrain from Rhetoric
  39. 39. <ul><li>Look for comma splicing. I.e., linking two independent clauses without any punctuation </li></ul><ul><li>Pay very close attention if a verb or adverb is in the answer choice. Odds are that the answer is based on their proper usage </li></ul>Some of Their Favorite Kinds of Questions
  40. 40. Science Section
  41. 41. Drawn from Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Physical Science: Data Representation 38% Research Summaries 45% Conflicting Viewpoints 17% 40 items, 35 minutes ACT Science Test Content
  42. 42. Know What’s in the Section <ul><li>Charts and Graphs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>15 questions: 3 passages </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Experiments (aka Research Summaries) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>18 questions: 3 passages </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Fighting Scientists (aka Conflicting Viewpoints) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>7 questions: 1 passage </li></ul></ul>
  43. 43. Charts and Graphs <ul><li>They do not have summaries or experiments </li></ul><ul><li>Scan and look for trends </li></ul><ul><li>Use guesstimation and POE </li></ul>
  44. 44. Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) <ul><li>Answers are rarely based on questions that are based on rote memorization, discrete knowledge, and basic skills </li></ul><ul><li>Answers tend to require analysis, interpretation, assessments </li></ul>
  45. 45. General Testing Considerations
  46. 46. Night Before and Morning of the Test <ul><li>Do NOT try to learn any new information or take any NEW quizzes. Don’t subject yourself to NEW information </li></ul><ul><li>Review information you already know and take quizzes you’ve already completed and done well on </li></ul><ul><li>Read the newspaper the morning of the test to warm up – particularly the OP ED page (basically same length and similar themes are reading passages </li></ul><ul><li>Only review areas of strength </li></ul><ul><li>ONLY REINFORCE THE POSITIVE </li></ul>
  47. 47. <ul><li>Analyze a three-hour test for six hours rather than spend nine hours taking three tests. You need to know exactly why you got every question right as well as wrong </li></ul>Perfect Practice out Performs Persistent Practice
  48. 48. Test Information Release <ul><li>You Can take the real test and get back the all the test questions, with a key and your answers </li></ul><ul><li>Best possible preparation is to review this </li></ul><ul><li>Only available in December, April and June </li></ul><ul><li>Costs and extra $17 at time of test registration </li></ul>
  49. 49. Test Registration Recommendations <ul><li>Even though you can send 4 score reports to schools free of charge, this may not be advisable </li></ul><ul><li>Even though you can tell schools which test you want them to look at, they’ll still see all of your test score submissions </li></ul><ul><li>It’s safer to spend the extra money and send your scores once you know what they are </li></ul><ul><li>Try to take your first test on a “Test Information Release” date where you can get your test and the correct answers back (it costs $18) so you can have some real review </li></ul>
  50. 50. <ul><li>The ACT is for grades 11 & 12 </li></ul><ul><li>11th is the best time! </li></ul><ul><li>The ACT is actually 4 tests: English, Math, Reading & Science and an optional Writing Test </li></ul><ul><li>The ACT includes: </li></ul><ul><li>Career Interest Inventory </li></ul><ul><li>A Student Profile </li></ul><ul><li>HS Course & Grade Information </li></ul>Other ACT FACTS
  51. 51. <ul><li>Colleges use this information for scholarship, advising, and course placement </li></ul><ul><li>Checking yes on the “EOS” box gets students into colleges’ scholarship and recruitment pools! </li></ul>Step 2: Complete All The Registration Information!
  52. 52. <ul><li>Many colleges begin contacting prospective students as early as the 10th grade - using PLAN’s EOS information. </li></ul><ul><li>If you are a junior and do not score as well as you believe you can, there will be opportunities to retake the ACT during the fall of your senior year. </li></ul>More on Admission...
  53. 53. How do the tests compare? ACT SAT <ul><li>English, math, reading, science </li></ul><ul><li>Curriculum-based </li></ul><ul><li>Writing Essay: Optional </li></ul><ul><li>Writing Essay: 30 min. </li></ul><ul><li>Basic Fee: $33 ($48.00 with essay) </li></ul><ul><li>No penalty for guessing </li></ul><ul><li>Perfect score = 36 </li></ul><ul><li>Students choose best score to report to colleges </li></ul><ul><li>Accepted nationally (Ivy Leagues included) </li></ul><ul><li>Pre-ACT: PLAN (10 th ) </li></ul><ul><li>Career Interest Inventory </li></ul><ul><li>Critical reading, math, writing </li></ul><ul><li>Reasoning </li></ul><ul><li>Writing Essay: Mandatory </li></ul><ul><li>Writing Essay: 25 min. </li></ul><ul><li>Basic Fee: $45.00 </li></ul><ul><li>Penalty for wrong answers </li></ul><ul><li>Perfect score = 2400 </li></ul><ul><li>All scores reported to colleges </li></ul><ul><li>Accepted nationally (Ivy Leagues included) </li></ul><ul><li>Pre-SAT: PSAT (11 th ) </li></ul>
  54. 54. 2010-11 ACT National Test Dates * September test dates is now available nationwide. Test Date Registration Late Reg Deadline Deadline April 10, 2010 March 5, 2010 Mar 6-19, 2010 June 12, 2010 May 7, 2010 May 8-21, 2010 Sept. 11, 2010 Oct. 23, 2010 Dec. 11, 2010 Feb. 12, 2011 April 9, 2011 June 11, 2011 Registration deadlines for 2010-2011 will be posted on the Web in March 2010.
  55. 55. <ul><li>Take the Writing test only if your college(s) </li></ul><ul><li>of choice requires it. </li></ul><ul><li>Why spend more time and take a test that isn’t necessary? Cost difference: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>ACT $33.00 </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>ACT Plus Writing $48.00 </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>ACT strongly recommends that you contact college admission offices for their current Writing policy, although you can go to for a list of what most schools require. </li></ul>To Write, or Not to Write?
  56. 56. <ul><li>Format: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>30 minutes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Administered after The ACT </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Scored by two well-trained, qualified readers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Standards-based interpretation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>• Narrative included </li></ul></ul>More About the Optional Writing Test…
  57. 57. Check out ACT’s website at: Where Can You Get More Information on The ACT?
  58. 58. <ul><li>The ACT is a national college admission test, accepted by colleges and universities across the United States! </li></ul>
  59. 59. ACT Score Scale <ul><li>1 - 36 </li></ul>
  60. 60. <ul><li>Open Up to 17 </li></ul><ul><li>All HS grads until school capacity is reached </li></ul><ul><li>Liberal 18-19 </li></ul><ul><li>Some from lower 1/2 of HS grad class </li></ul><ul><li>Traditional 20-22 </li></ul><ul><li>Top 50% of HS grad class </li></ul><ul><li>Selective 23-26 </li></ul><ul><li>Top 25% of HS grad class </li></ul><ul><li>Highly Selective 27-36 </li></ul><ul><li>Top 10% of HS grad class </li></ul>Estimated National Admission Selectivity Ranges
  61. 61. Test Day <ul><li>Report to your test center/school no later than 8am (unless told otherwise by school) </li></ul><ul><li>Check in </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Acceptable ID </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Admission ticket (only required for national </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> test dates) </li></ul></ul>
  62. 62. Test Day Schedule <ul><li>English 45 min. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>(no break) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Mathematics 60 min. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>(15 min. break) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Reading 35 min. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>(no break) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Science 35 min. </li></ul><ul><li>~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ </li></ul><ul><li>Writing (if taken) 30 min. </li></ul>
  63. 63. How Do I Register for a National ACT Test? <ul><li>Registration Packet--available in </li></ul><ul><li>your high school counseling office </li></ul><ul><li>Online at </li></ul><ul><li>Telephone Registration at </li></ul><ul><li>(319) 337-1270 </li></ul><ul><li>Standby Testing </li></ul>
  64. 64. ACT $33.00 ACT Plus Optional Writing $48.00* Late registration additional $21.00 Standby testing additional $41.00 Additional Score Reports $9.00 Early Scores on the Web No charge * The $15.00 Optional Writing Test fee is refundable if a student is absent or the test option is changed before the test begins. Fee waivers are available for The ACT and The ACT Plus Writing How Much Does the ACT Cost? NEW
  65. 65. When Will I Get My Scores? Your score report will arrive three to seven weeks after you’ve taken the ACT exam.
  66. 66. It’s up to you! Nationwide, about 1/3 of students who take the ACT also retest. Of those, 55% increased their composite score, 22% had no change, and 23% decreased their composite score. Should I Retest?
  67. 67. If I retest, can I choose which results to send to colleges? YES! You may select which ACT test to send to colleges. However, you must send the entire student report which includes subscores and your composite score, and the Writing Test score (if you take the Writing Test).
  68. 68. The ACT. . . <ul><li>Is taken by more than 2.5 million students annually! </li></ul><ul><li>Is accepted by colleges across the country! </li></ul><ul><li>Provides more info for YOU! </li></ul><ul><li>Is based on what you can do with </li></ul><ul><li>what you know! </li></ul>
  69. 69. What Other Test Prep Resources Are Available? <ul><li>Preparing For The ACT </li></ul><ul><li>free booklet available in your high school </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>The Real ACT Prep Guide $25.00 (includes shipping & handling) </li></ul><ul><li>ACT Online Prep </li></ul><ul><li>personal version for $19.95 </li></ul>
  70. 70.
  71. 71. Remember! An An ACT score is only one item that colleges consider for admission, so Put Your Best Foot Forward!