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s/o Moving the SAT needle--now need ACT advice!

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I posted about a month ago regarding upping DDs SAT score. She had taken it twice and both times scored under 1300. We got her ACT scores back and she got a 30, which is more promising! However, her first choice school right now is Hamilton, where the median ACT is 32 I believe. Since her GPA is already on the lower end of their accepted student profile, we're looking for the best way to up her ACT score. I don't think Khan (which was recommended for SATs) has ACT prep help. She already took a prep class for the ACT. Has anyone's dc upped their ACT scores a couple of points? And if so, how? TIA for any help.

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DS improved his composite score by 3 points just by doing all of the practice tests in the ACT book, plus a couple more we found online, under realistic timed conditions. I think he did 2 full-length practice tests before the April test, and then 4 more before the June test — not anyone's idea of a fun way to spend every Saturday for a month, but it did pay off as it put him well into merit aid territory.

 

In his case, the main problem was not finishing the reading & science sections the first time he took it. Doing lots of practice tests and trying to apply the recommended strategies for moving more quickly, brought those two scores way up. I think some of it was even just building stamina — that's a LOT of time to maintain intense focus and concentration; by the end of the reading section he was running out of steam, and by science he was a zombie. So I think doing a lot of tests, under conditions that were as close as possible to the real thing, made a big difference, as he finished all of the reading and science sections on his 2nd test.

You might also consider PrepScholar's ACT program; it's pricey ($400) but they guarantee a 4 point increase (assuming the student completes all the assignments) or your money back. If she actually increased her score to a 34 that would really boost her application, and if she didn't improve you'd get a refund.

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My son's score was lower than a 30.....quite a bit lower.....so take this with a grain of salt.  

 

We got a program online called Magoosh.  I was quite impressed with them.  DS and I both liked their videos (you can watch some on Youtube) and the 6 month access to the online program is $99,  We got a deal at $79 during a special.

 

They have video tutors and practice quizzes.  And they send me a report.  

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My DD increased her composite by 5 points by working 1-on-1 with a tutor. They met approximately twice per week for 6-8 weeks. It was not inexpensive but she needed the accountability and personalized attention of a tutor to make that kind of progress.

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What are the subscores? Any particular strengths and weaknesses?

 

In general, a score out of sync with a strength (the bookworm scoring only average in reading) has the most room for improvement.

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What are the subscores? Any particular strengths and weaknesses?

 

In general, a score out of sync with a strength (the bookworm scoring only average in reading) has the most room for improvement.

 

Thank you everyone for the advice so far.

 

Here's her breakdown

25 Math

35 Reading

30 Science

8/12 essay

30 ELA

28 STEM

 

These scores align with her strengths and weaknesses.

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You're missing the English section.

 

Reading and Science can be brought closer to each other - both are really about churning through material quickly to find information. The science section just adds graphs which are pretty teachable. Try the book For the Love of ACT Science

 

Math as a weakness points to ACT - where the composite is 25% math rather than the SAT's 50% math. Math is best fixed by taking practice sections and tutoring on missing concepts.

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Her English was a 30. Thanks for the book suggestion, will check it out. Where can she find practice tests??

 

Do you have the official ACT prep book? This is the most current edition. It has three full-length practice tests in it, which are actual (previously administered) exams, not the made-up exams you get in other prep books (Kaplan, Barron's, etc). There are also downloadable practice tests linked here (some of which are the same as the ones in the book). Also, be aware that the earlier tests are generally easier than the more recent ones, so the 2016 practice test will likely give you the most accurate result.

Edited by Corraleno
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check out the series on youtube about the science section. My DD found them very helpful.

 

Which series is this, regentrude?

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English is also coachable. Any of the main ACT prep books like Barron's or Princeton Review will go over all the rules on the English section.

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Seconding the recommendation for Magoosh!

 

We also paid $79 - composite went up by five points to a 33!  (She was also shooting for a 32....)

 

Much more structured than simply doing practice tests.   (Although that is part of it as well.)   The program helps you identify weak areas, and then you can focus your practice on those areas. -- I think that is key on raising the scores.

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Thank you everyone for the advice so far.

 

Here's her breakdown

25 Math

35 Reading

30 Science

8/12 essay

30 ELA

28 STEM

 

These scores align with her strengths and weaknesses.

How far along is she on her math sequence?

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How far along is she on her math sequence?

 

Behind? She's taking Pre Calc this coming year. I blame Saxon :lol:

Seriously, though, it's a pretty tough school. The majority of kids have to re-take Algebra freshman year. Some of them then take two maths Sophomore or Junior year to catch up, but my kids didn't. The things you learn too late...

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Seconding the recommendation for Magoosh!

 

We also paid $79 - composite went up by five points to a 33!  (She was also shooting for a 32....)

 

Much more structured than simply doing practice tests.   (Although that is part of it as well.)   The program helps you identify weak areas, and then you can focus your practice on those areas. -- I think that is key on raising the scores.

 

Can you tell us a little bit about Magoosh? DD skimmed the website but was turned off by the video lessons. Would you mind giving me a quick rundown on how it's structured?

 

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My DS took the ACT this June and I ordered and received his test booklet and answer sheet. I found out, to my horror, he missed really basic questions in math, like 4th grade stuff. When I sat down with him a couple of months later (he was travelling) and just had him show me the process of how he went about these questions, he did them correctly. This was not just one or two but multiple simple simple questions. I still do not know why he misses these but I'm writing this in case this is the case with your DD, and that instead of covering more math she may need to review old one.

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My DS took the ACT this June and I ordered and received his test booklet and answer sheet. I found out, to my horror, he missed really basic questions in math, like 4th grade stuff. When I sat down with him a couple of months later (he was travelling) and just had him show me the process of how he went about these questions, he did them correctly. This was not just one or two but multiple simple simple questions. I still do not know why he misses these but I'm writing this in case this is the case with your DD, and that instead of covering more math she may need to review old one.

 

Doing rolling review with math made a HUGE difference in math scores here.  We have done the ACT 4 years in a row starting in 7th grade to cover our state testing requirement.  The boy here had his math score jump 7 points the year we started with the rolling review.  His lowest score the previous year was in pre-algebra questions!  All we do to cover that is 3-5 ACT math problems per day.  Honestly, I think it helped his new math too to have those older concepts reviewed in an ongoing way.

 

We've used a number of books, but this is the one we're working through at the moment.

https://www.amazon.com/Math-Questions-Know-Mcgraw-Hills/dp/0071820175/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&qid=1501899807&sr=8-10&keywords=act+math

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To answer the question about Magoosh:

 

Yes, it is video lessons.  There are a series of video lessons, and then practice problems.   On their blog, they list sample study plans for if your test is one month away, or three months away, etc.

 

After you do the practice problems, there is a video 'work-through' of the problem -- which shows WHY the wrong ones were wrong, as well as showing the solution for the correct response.

 

The video lessons do have the transcripts provided, in case your child prefers reading along.   

 

The bottom line is you need to use what works best for your child.   I know some do not do well with video lessons - and if that is the case, this is not the program for them.    It worked well for my child.  She liked being able to watch the videos when she wanted, and for however long she felt like studying that day.   We were looking to raise ACT score, but did not have the money to spend several hundred on a live, in person class.    We also looked at some of the other online ACT Prep Courses (like PrepScholar) , and they ranged in price from $400-600.   It was just too much, in my opinion.

 

Magoosh was $79.  It also had a money back guarantee.  Your child's ACT composite goes up by four points, or your money back.  So I felt like for $79, that was a pretty good gamble.  If the scores went up by four points - well worth the cost.  If the score did not go up, we got our money back.   Now, the catch on the money back guarantee is that 1) you have to have previously taken the ACT and provide them with your scores.  2) you must watch ALL the videos, and do ALL the practice problems.

 

My child started with Magoosh when she was three months out from the test.  It would be hard to get all that done in one month, unless you had a lot of time to devote.   

 

Let me know if you have specific questions about the video instruction - or anything else!

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