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lewber

ACT reading scores

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8th grade DS took the ACT just to see where he was. After the test, he said the reading and science were very hard and he couldn't finish them. Got his test scores back today, and they supported that feeling.

What would you do during high school to increase reading and analyzing ability? He is a slow reader, and testing at school has put him at the 12+ reading level for the last year or so, FWIW.

Also, he does not like to read. Never has really read for fun. It is really hard to get him to read, unless it is for facts. And he would rather teach himself something via video or YouTube than read instructions.

I did order the tests, so I guess there's a chance he did well on the ones he got to and bombed the rest. But, I doubt that's all of it. Also, for an 8th grader, he did fine. It's not a remedial issue or anything like that, but much lower than his other scores. And I really do think this is a weakness that he hasn't learned and will hold him back.

Help:)

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The best thing for improving reading is more reading. Avoiding reading by learning through videos and other auditoey/visual presentation will not improve this skill. Throwing those away, of course will likely create resistance. You may need a more balanced approach. Also, have you looked into any possible learning difficulties that make reading more difficult (tracking issues for one?) Also, maybe investigate a speed reading course and, perhaps, a study skills course. The reality is, whether he likes it or not, reading for information is a required skill for college and takes work to develop. Good thing that you are discovering it now so that you have a few years to work on it.

 

Sent from my SM-G900T using Tapatalk

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Fwiw, We worked through several exams prior to taking the ACT and I remember the reading section improving quite a bit for ds just from that exposure. If your son went in unfamiliar with the exam I think those two sections might be the ones where practice helps the most for timing etc.

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I Am sure you are both right. He refused to do any prep which I went along with since he's in 8th grade. I'm sure some prep will help a lot.

Also, he does need to read more. A lot more. I am just going to have to make him do it. It is really lacking in his public school education and I have not pushed it.

Now, to find books!

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If he likes to read non-fiction, let him. Encourage reading the books for facts. I see that he is in public school, so you might be fighting an uphill battle, but having him compile a brief report from his "fact books" would probably help. Also, having him read well-written articles on a regular basis will help (National Geographic, The Economist).

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If he likes to read non-fiction, let him. Encourage reading the books for facts. I see that he is in public school, so you might be fighting an uphill battle, but having him compile a brief report from his "fact books" would probably help. Also, having him read well-written articles on a regular basis will help (National Geographic, The Economist).

 

This is helpful. I think he would like both of those magazines. 

 

He is in public school, but he is used to "afterschooling" so I think I will have some luck with fact books.  We have just been focusing on math because that is his strength and interest. Looks like reading will be next. 

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I'm going to offer a bit different approach. The reading on the ACT isn't really about analyzing anything, it's about finding the information (at least this is what my son says)  the biggest thing for him to learn was You don't actually read the entire passage first.  Go read the questions for that section then skim through the passage until you find an area that includes information the question is looking for then do more thorough reading if necessary.  

 

The science section is actually more data interpretation, so learning to read graphs and tables is more beneficial than actual science knowledge.  

I will say those sections are tough because they really don't give you a whole lot of time. 

 

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Based on how the brain reads, I have a theory that nonsense words will increase reading speed. I would quickly work him through this, focusing on nonsense words and nonsense word syllable division. Do 50 nonsense words daily, working on accuracy first but eventually speed. If he does not read widely, reading across different genres to get familiar with the vocabulary of each will also help.

 

http://www.thephonicspage.org/On%20Reading/syllablesspellsu.html

 

You have him read the nonsense words orally, with a goal of 100% accuracy at 100 WPM.

 

If he has a slowdown of more than 15% on the MWIA, it may take a lot of time and nonsense words.

Edited by ElizabethB
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I'm going to offer a bit different approach. The reading on the ACT isn't really about analyzing anything, it's about finding the information (at least this is what my son says) the biggest thing for him to learn was You don't actually read the entire passage first. Go read the questions for that section then skim through the passage until you find an area that includes information the question is looking for then do more thorough reading if necessary.

 

The science section is actually more data interpretation, so learning to read graphs and tables is more beneficial than actual science knowledge.

 

I will say those sections are tough because they really don't give you a whole lot of time.

I just took a sample ACT with my Dd#1 a few weeks ago. I thought the advice above (skimming instead of reading the whole passage) would be useful, but it turned out to be horrible for me and dd. Reading speed is very important for the ACT. It worked best for us to quickly read the passage, pausing to answer questions every couple of paragraphs. Skimming didn't give either of us enough to answer the questions that were often at the end which asked us to compare something or reference something that was part of one but not the other. We wasted time going back and reading what we'd just skimmed.

 

My point, and several others made it too, was that he needs practice reading and that will hopefully increase his reading speed over time. The passages on the ACT Reading section are often non-fiction and of course the science section is all non-fiction. So, reading these books and magazines will not only be interesting to him and educational, but also help with his prep!

 

Interpreting charts and graphs is very important in the science section, and I agree with practicing that. But, again, speed is very important. (I only barely finished the Science section on time.)

Edited by RootAnn
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He said he could not finish the reading or the science sections in time. He had no reference though on timing since he'd not taken a practice test. I'll be interested to get the actual test back and see the difference in correct responses of what he finished vs where he guessed. That will be helpful to determine if it's a speed issue or not.

I do know his processing speed is more than two variances below his other scores on the WISC. It's never been an issue in school so far. I'm sure he compensates in other ways. He might have a touch of ADD.

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Based on how the brain reads, I have a theory that nonsense words will increase reading speed. I would quickly work him through this, focusing on nonsense words and nonsense word syllable division. Do 50 nonsense words daily, working on accuracy first but eventually speed. If he does not read widely, reading across different genres to get familiar with the vocabulary of each will also help.

 

http://www.thephonicspage.org/On%20Reading/syllablesspellsu.html

 

You have him read the nonsense words orally, with a goal of 100% accuracy at 100 WPM.

 

If he has a slowdown of more than 15% on the MWIA, it may take a lot of time and nonsense words.

 Thanks, this is interesting.  We'll have to try that. 

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Another big thing-the answers are in/supported by the passage. Even when the passage is wrong, the answer in the passage is correct. This has been a tough lesson for my DD on standardized tests, particularly the ACT science where her background knowledge sometimes works against her.

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I just took a sample ACT with my Dd#1 a few weeks ago. I thought the advice above (skimming instead of reading the whole passage) would be useful, but it turned out to be horrible for me and dd. Reading speed is very important for the ACT. It worked best for us to quickly read the passage, pausing to answer questions every couple of paragraphs. Skimming didn't give either of us enough to answer the questions that were often at the end which asked us to compare something or reference something that was part of one but not the other. We wasted time going back and reading what we'd just skimmed.

 

My point, and several others made it too, was that he needs practice reading and that will hopefully increase his reading speed over time. The passages on the ACT Reading section are often non-fiction and of course the science section is all non-fiction. So, reading these books and magazines will not only be interesting to him and educational, but also help with his prep!

 

Interpreting charts and graphs is very important in the science section, and I agree with practicing that. But, again, speed is very important. (I only barely finished the Science section on time.)

 This is probably going to vary by kid/person.  We use the skim method to find the section that would have more information as there is often a lot of information that is not needed to answer the questions, so it's not important to read the whole entire passage word for word to answer them. 

 

The fact that this section is 35 minutes doesn't really allow most to read every passage completely and answer the questions. 

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Recent brain research has found that the adult brain of good readers does not process words as wholes, but instead, as Stanislas Dehaene explains in his article, The Massive Impact of Literacy on the Brain, by analyzing the individual letters and letter teams at the same time in a "massively parallel architecture."

 

I will add links to his articles and YouTube videos for those interested. If you can speed up the individual sound letter processing speed, the effect should multiply reading speed because each little bit is going on at once in each word.

 

I found that some of my students who were siblings of students just there because their sibling needed help or those just in my class for spelling or Greek/Latin word root sections, that some of them improved their oral reading fluency after going through my linked above program. (Students who read above grade level.) I have not yet measured before and after silent reading speed, but suspect it would go up with an increase in oral reading speed.

 

http://www.unicog.org/biblio/Author/DEHAENE-S.html

 

Edited by ElizabethB
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He said he could not finish the reading or the science sections in time. He had no reference though on timing since he'd not taken a practice test. I'll be interested to get the actual test back and see the difference in correct responses of what he finished vs where he guessed. That will be helpful to determine if it's a speed issue or not.

I do know his processing speed is more than two variances below his other scores on the WISC. It's never been an issue in school so far. I'm sure he compensates in other ways. He might have a touch of ADD.

With the processing speed disparity, I would also work on speed of phonogram recognition in addition to nonsense words. The regular black and white one page vowel and consonant charts, and the separate document with the two letter vowel teams. I go over them in pairs, ai and ay, oi and oy, etc. They are links 3 and 9 in the student documents in my link a few posts above. Edited by ElizabethB
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I agree with @3andme. The ACT is blazing fast.  And I wouldn't expect an 8th grader to be able to finish the test answering all the questions (often -spending more time on fewer questions and then just marking "A" for the ones you didn't get to will lead to a higher score). 

 

And don't read the science section - start with the questions and then go back to the charts and graphs and pull the info you need.  For the love of ACT Science is a great book to help in the Science section. 

 

And I second the recc for Erica Meltzer Reading books - but they are heavy and dense and if your kid isn't already at a 600+ on the SAT it will be too much work (so I think that's about a 27 on the ACT?)

 

Often, though, just working through a couple of authentic practice tests will help kids get a sense of the timing for each section.

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Thank you all for your replies. He agreed he needed to read more, and was fairly interested in National Geographic and the Economist. I think those will both be good fits for him, so we ordered them.

It also made this whole process more real, and I think that will help with the actual test prep process in a few years when it really counts.

He would like to take the SAT now but can't until June. Will that still count as 8th grade? We don't want either of these tests on his high school transcripts.

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