How to Help Your Student Face the ACT with Confidence

By Huntington Learning Center

How to Help Your Student Face the ACT with Confidence

By today’s academic standards, a strong ACT score can be just as important as a high school diploma. This rigorous exam, traditionally completed by high school students in the spring of their junior year, can determine college acceptance and eligibility for merit-based scholarships. The ACT tests students’ knowledge of Math, Science, English and Reading, includes an optional writing portion, and is scored on a 36-point scale. Unfortunately, the Washington Post reports that ACT scores reached their lowest national average of the past five years in 2013, with a composite average of 20.9. Worse yet, only twenty-six percent of tested students met all four of the ACT’s subject benchmarks.

While the specific cause of low performance is purported to be the result of many varying factors, the competition for college acceptance remains stringent. Acceptance standards are high, and a noncompetitive ACT score could spell the difference between attending the college of a student’s dreams and attending another university. The only strategy proven to increase a student’s chances of scoring high on an ACT exam is proper preparation. But what does this look like, and how can it be achieved?

The Huntington Learning Center offers its top tips for successful ACT preparation.

Get Familiar with Key Strategies

Sometimes simply knowing how to take a test can be almost as helpful as knowing the material. For example, in the ACT reading section, your student will both save time and increase his or her chances of selecting the right answer if he or she reads questions before reading the corresponding passages. This strategy allows students to know exactly what they’re looking for while they read, a proven tactic to enhance comprehension. It’s also important to know that students should answer every question on the exam, as there is no penalty for guessing.  General test-taking strategies such as utilizing process of elimination for challenging multiple choice questions, memorizing the directions for each section beforehand, and always creating an outline for the writing portion of the exam, can also significantly improve your student’s chances for success.

Take Practice Tests

Encourage your student to take a full-length practice ACT exam, which can be found online, in test preparation books or from a tutoring service. Have your student take a diagnostic practice test before studying as a means to measure progress, and for an accurate score, always complete under similar test conditions (for instance, timing each section). Practice tests provide students an opportunity to determine pacing, identify potential weaknesses, and reduce test anxiety. Encourage your student to take as many practice exams as time allows. 

Use a Tutoring Service

Instruction from the classroom may simply not be enough when it comes to thoroughly preparing for the ACT exam. Students need extra reviews to strengthen skills in certain subjects, and even if your student does well in school, supplemental studying is still both necessary and worthwhile. This is where an ACT tutoring program can help. With an ACT tutoring program, your student will receive one-to-one instruction tailored to his or her learning style, gain valuable test-taking strategies, develop stronger time management skills, and acquire thorough preparation in every aspect of the exam. There are even opportunities for full-length, proctored exams. In today’s world of college admissions, in which a one-point increase in an ACT score can sometimes equal thousands in merit-based scholarships, there’s no denying the value of adequate preparation.

Help your student excel on the ACT exam this year with ACT tutoring from the Huntington Learning Center. The Huntington Learning Center offers three tutoring programs of varying lengths that offer proven test-taking strategies, highly-trained tutors, options for coursework and flexible scheduling.  Contact the Huntington Learning Center today at 1-800-CAN-LEARN or visit us online to learn more about our services.


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