Standardized college entrance exams, such as the ACT and SAT, were pushed to the back burner last school year due to limited session availability. When the coronavirus began to spread, numerous facets of higher education were interrupted. Many test-makers canceled planned test sessions or shifted exams to later dates. Sessions filled quickly, leaving students unable to test.
In response, many colleges and universities began removing testing requirements and announcing test-optional pilot programs. While some colleges are stating that they will remain test-optional for several years, it is still difficult to tell whether a particular school will be test-optional or test-blind for the Class of 2022 or 2023.
Flashforward to today. School is back in session, standardized testing sessions are more readily available, and teens across the nation are dusting off their practice tests and hitting the books once again! Although some test-optional programs may remain intact, a strong ACT score can help a student stand out during the competitive college application process. Here are some ACT tips and tricks to help you reach your target score this fall!
ACT Tips & Tricks
1. Categorize & Prioritize
The ACT is a timed test and all questions are weighted evenly. Spending too much time on the hardest problems may leave you rushing through the easiest ones. You do not want to risk that! Instead of working on questions in order, the Princeton Review suggests identifying problems as ‘Do Now’, ‘Do Later’, and ‘Never’. If you are comfortable with a problem and know how to do it, do it now. If it is a problem you can tackle, but know it will take longer to complete, circle it and come back to it later. If it is a challenging problem that you do not know how to solve, skip it to give yourself more time to answer the Now and Later questions accurately.
2. Process of Elimination
Prep Scholar writes, “The number one rule of guessing on the ACT is try to minimize your guessing.” Sometimes, the quickest way to identify the right answer is to eliminate the answers that you know are incorrect. The ACT can hide the right answer behind wrong ones, but when you cross off just one or two answers that you know are not right, the correct answer can become more obvious to you.
3. Pick a Guessing Letter
What do you do if you cannot eliminate any answer choices on a ‘Never’ question? If you find yourself in this predicament, it is best practice to choose a guessing letter. By sticking with one guessing letter, you have a higher likelihood of getting questions right than you do by skipping around. Choosing a guessing letter will also save you time and will result in approximately one correct answer out of every four guesses.
Study Skills at Nevada State High School
At Nevada State High School, we teach effective study habits in our Study Skills course to help students perform successfully in a college environment.
Study Skills serves as the “training wheels” to support students while they are submerged in a full college experience. The Study Skills course develops and refines skills for college remedial assistance, academic guidance and planning, and proficiency assistance. Instructors monitor, support, assist, tutor, and meet with students to work on targeting academic needs. Students are encouraged to be actively involved in their education by becoming independent, resourceful learners.
Two of the Study Skills sessions that address strategic studying are Study Habits and Test Taking Strategies. In the Study Habits lesson, students learn how to create effective 5-point notecards that can be used for spaced practice and self-assessment. In Test Taking Strategies, students reflect on the practices that they currently implement and develop an action plan to improve their test taking strategy moving forward. Students at Nevada State High School also have access to free ACT Boot Camps throughout the year which include ACT pre-testing.
Be a Contender
When it comes to college applications, it is better to overprepare than underprepare. Even if a college is a test-optional institution, high test scores can be an impressive addition to your college application. We hope you try one or more of these ACT tips to hone your test-taking skills this semester!
Are you looking for more support on your academic journey? Nevada State High School assists students every step of the way during their transition from high school to college. From building study habits to providing one-on-one support and tutoring, NSHS helps students improve their test scores. With an average ACT score of 21.6 (3.7 points higher than the state average) and 98% graduation rate, NSHS is a clear choice for those looking to study hard and succeed. Applications open for Spring 2022 on November 1st. Learn more at earlycollegenv.com.