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"As test time approaches, take the time to prepare"

Here’s an old joke:"How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” Answer: "Practice, practice, practice."

This is probably the best advice you’ll ever hear whether you are aiming to be your best as a musician, an athlete, or to do well on your standardized tests. If you are planning to take your SAT’s or ACTS’s this year, take comfort in numbers. More than two million students will take the test this year! The best way to prepare for this test

is to get the “lay of the land’ first. Knowledge is power, and it’s a lot less daunting if you know what to expect. Here are the basics:

Let’s break down the ACT into its four sections: English, Mathematics, Reading, Science. Each part is separately scored. A student’s composite ACT score is the average of the student’s scaled scores for the four multiple- choice test sections. For example, a student who scored a 24 in English, 28 in Math, 26 in Reading, and a 23

in Science, would have a composite ACT score of 25.5, rounded down to a 25.

English: this is a 45 min test of 75 multiple choice questions that test understanding of English, writing production, including punctuation and organization, and knowledge of language skills and syntax. Even the best students often have trouble with the writing section because the grammar that the test covers is not specifically reviewed in schools these days. My suggestion is to learn the types of grammatical errors being tested and become sensitive to “categorizing” them until the error types “pop out” at you.

Math: A 60 minute, 60 question multiple choice test that includes all mathematical skills and concepts that have been learned in course work up to the beginning of 12th grade. The content includes 20-25% pre-algebra, 15-20% elementary algebra, 15-20% intermediate algebra, 15-20% coordinate geometry, 20-25% plane geometry, and 5-10% trigonometry. Many students have taken geometry a year or two before they take the ACT’s and, therefore, may have forgotten a lot of the concepts and need a refresher.Begin reviewing early and perhaps ask to borrow a geometry textbook from your high school math department.

Reading: This is a 35-minute, 40 question multiple-choice test that measures reading comprehension that would likely be encountered in a first-year college curricula.

Science: In this test of 35 minutes there are 40 multiple choice questions that measure interpretation of science concepts and graphs, analysis, evaluation and problem-solving skills typically required in chemistry, earth and space science, biology, physics, and chemistry.

Optional Writing test: In 40 minutes students must respond to a prompt that measures high school English class writing skills taught in high school English classes and those included in entry-level college composition courses.

Now that you have the basics, your next question should be, “How do I prepare myself?” Fortunately, there are no shortages of resources and if you take advantage of what is out there to prepare yourself, you’ll know just what to expect, your anxiety level should be reduced, and you’ll have a much better opportunity to get the results for which you are aiming.

Time is important. Look at the different dates for the tests and give yourself at lest 10-12 weeks before the test to devote yourself to hard study. Of course there are ACT (and SAT) prep classes you can take as well as private tutors who work one-on- one with you and tailor the sessions to your specific strengths and challenges. You’re not in this alone!

Remember that if you take the time to understand the process and prepare yourself you will have a much better chance of being more comfortable on test day and your results will show all your work and preparation. You are in this to do your personal best. If you’ve prepared, and after you have given it your all, you will feel comfortable and

satisfied with your results.