My high schooler is about to take the ACT for the first time. Her anxiety level is through the roof. In my efforts to help alleviate her stress and to feel more confident, I researched ACT prep options. College admissions tests are stressful, but you can prepare your child and give them ways to improve their score.
Recently, we had a medical emergency in our family. Priorities got shifted, and school went on hiatus for a few days. When we realized that this wasn’t going to be a short stint in the hospital, plans had to be made for school lessons to resume – especially since the ACT wasn’t going to postpone the test until we got our act together. So, the kids gathered their books and laptops, and we headed to the hospital.
This is one of the best benefits of homeschooling. We don’t have to go to a specific location to learn. We can learn anywhere and at anytime.
This week my kids did their school work sitting in a hospital room in uncomfortable chairs surrounded by bedpans and IV poles. Some of our work was a bit difficult because of our setting, and we had to postpone those lessons. But, others, like our ACT Prep course, were easy to keep up because of the format. Online courses can make homeschooling during the most difficult of times a little easier.
Taking the ACT
My daughter would prefer never to take the ACT, but she also wants to go to college. Unfortunately, at this time, the colleges she wants to attend require an ACT minimum test score. But, even if they didn’t, ACT scores determine the amount of scholarship funds. Either way, the ACT is a necessary evil in her life.
But, this isn’t our first rodeo. We have a child in college, and in a former life, I was the senior class advisor at our local Christian high school. So, I know what she needs to do to score her best on the ACT.
ACT Prep Tip #1 – Get Prepared
Preparation is key. This is the most important tip for taking the ACT.
First, your child should be familiar with the layout of the ACT. You can find several options for printed tests from ACT Prep books to online tests. The ACT website provides free tests you can use for each section: English, Math, Reading, Science, and Writing.
Second, you need to mentally prepare your student for the ACT. Having the right mindset can make the difference in a good score and an unacceptable score. Tests, in general, can be stressful. So preparing for the time requirements, layout, and location can alleviate test anxiety.
Third, make sure you have the appropriate items needed to take the test. You will need your ticket (you should have printed that off from the ACT website when you signed up), #2 pencil, and a photo ID.
ACT Prep Tip #2 – Practice
Taking practice tests not only familiarizes your student with the test, but it also helps them learn to manage their time.
For example, in the math section of the ACT, test takers have 60 minutes to complete 60 problems. If a student realizes a problem is taking them longer than a minute, then they need to choose the best answer and move on. The ACT doesn’t penalize a student for incorrect answers. When in doubt, the tester should narrow down their options to the best choices and pick from there. Alternatively, if there’s extra time, it can be utilized to check answers.
The ACT allows specific calculators in their exams. As your student is practicing, make sure to provide them with an acceptable calculator. Learning to use this calculator can save them valuable time on the exam.
ACT Prep Tip #3 – Utilize the Best Resources
As I mentioned earlier, we have been using an ACT prep course. My oldest, now in college, utilized a local course that we didn’t find was very helpful. So, this time around we decided to try out an online course. Because the high schooler is a self-proclaimed math hater, we decided to focus a large part of our efforts there. After learning of a few options, we opted for an online course by Mr. D Math.
This is not our first time to use Mr. D’s courses, so we knew what to expect. We signed up for the ACT Bootcamp that was scheduled to run the six weeks before the ACT exam. And, put the first class on our calendar.
Our instructor was great. He put the students at ease while also encouraging them as they worked through the problems he presented in the virtual classroom. The great advantage of a live class is that the student is given immediate problem-solving techniques and can ask questions as needed. Because the class is scheduled for a specific date and time, it also provides a measure of accountability. In my experience, this is not a strong point for teenagers.
After the class, we took the time to go through the extra resources provided in the Mr. D Dashboard. Self-paced lessons are perfect to supplement when your student has extra time. And, they are also easy to utilize on the go on your tablet or laptop.
The Bottom Line to ACT Prep
The most important part of ACT prep is putting in the effort. Your student has to want to do well. They need that drive and motivation to put in the study time and mentally prepare themselves for this test. The rewards are so much greater than a few weeks of extra study.
The ACT is not a simple standardized test. It is designed to make sure your student is alert and focused, even to the point of including some tricky answers. Don’t let your child be fooled. Use the tips above to help them be prepared for this test.
And, if your student is like mine and needs that extra level of math help and encouragement, then check out the ACT Bootcamp. You will be glad you did!
Hi, I’m Dachelle. I’m a homeschooling mom of 3 in the South. I love chocolate and have been known to hide it from my children. I can often be found reading a good book (or even sometimes just an okay book) and enjoying a jar of Nutella — don’t judge. I blog, here, at HideTheChocolate.com when I’m not creating book clubs and making lists…lots and lots of lists (it’s an addiction). Learn more…