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ACT score vs GPA...is this common?


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I don't know if it's common, but I thought that would happen with one of mine after dc took a practice ACT and scored low on the math section, which brought down the composite.  Dc worked with a math tutor twice a week for a couple of months, doing lots and lots and lots of practice problems, as well as some more practice ACT tests at home.  Dc's actual ACT math score ended up being about 12 points higher than the original practice test score, which helped get the composite up where it should have been.  Hiring the math tutor was totally worth it, as dc would not have worked as hard for me. 

FWIW, outside of hiring the math tutor, studying all of the correct answers and explanations in the practice book for the dc's strongest area (English) really helped both dc, as it was easier for them to learn the few things that weren't right in an easy-for-them area than it was to learn many things in a harder area.  That bumped their English scores another 2-3 points, which again helped the composite. 

Which section of the test is the hardest for your dc?  Maybe we can give suggestions.  

Edited by klmama
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1 hour ago, kfeusse said:

Especially because one subject area is particularly hard for that student.

 

The 3.8 GPA score paired with a lower SAT/ACT/AP score would be quite common in my local public high schools but not because one subject area is particularly hard for that student. The teachers give chances for extra credit and students who find a subject hard can take the honors version instead of the AP version and still get the same weighted GPA boost. 

SAT, ACT and AP scores however do tend to depend more on test prep and on luck. I heard a group of high schoolers at the library saying one particular teacher can’t teach but is lenient in grading, so they did their own test prep and scored well for the AP exam. Their classmates might not be that fortunate to have a study group of friends doing test prep together at the library. 

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7 hours ago, kfeusse said:

How common is it for a student who has a 3.8 GPA score a low ACT score? (21 or below)?  Especially because one subject area is particularly hard for that student.

There can be a lot of different scenarios that can result in that scenario. One could be grade inflation. Another could be undiagnosed LDs or known but not receiving accommodations. Another could anxiety. 

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Strong students may test poorly because they have learning disabilities, low processing speed, anxiety - or students really don't know the material, but the high school inflates the grade by rewarding attendance, handing out exact test questions as study guides, allowing test repeats for low scores, etc., or simply have only middle school level coursework.

Edited by regentrude
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Strong students can have severe test anxiety. I have one that did well in high school but her SAT score was not that good. (We did not take the ACT). However she made a 4.0 in college. She does well with the tests for classes but for some reason she freezes for these high stake standardized tests.

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This is the real situation.  My daughter gets good grades...because I have always insisted she do and redo her assignments until she gets them right.   Math has never been her strong suit, but because of my insistence in her redoing her work, she does crank out the right answers with understanding, but she doesn't retain the skills very long (like a year after) and that showed in her latest ACT score.  However, her other scores were higher (especially the English and the Reading.) and the science was average.   

She went through the John Baylor course and raised her score several points from her previous test.  Her score is high enough to get her into the school she wants and she would have to raise her score an additional 3-4 points in order to get the next level of scholarship money.  

What I am trying to figure out is, is there any real reason to worry or push her to retake it.  (I know it won't hurt anything).  I think the test anxiety thing plays into it...although she doesn't show it...she does know that Math is her weakness and I think she gets pretty unsettled inside about that.  So what would it really gain us...except "proof" that we didn't ruin our kids by homeschooling them to those who question that?

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She's going to have to take some math in college, right?  That means she'll either need a placement test or that they'll base the class choice on her ACT score.  If the score is too low, the class will be remedial and won't count toward graduation requirements, although that wouldn't be the end of the world.  Check the college website to find out how they do math placement and where her score will put her, so you know. 

Regardless of level, if your dc is not currently taking math, it will be harder to take a college course next fall.  My dc who worked with the math tutor didn't take math senior year, except for ACT review. Dc had to review again before going to college.  Fortunately, that semester dc used ratemyprofessors.com to determine which math prof was going to be the most helpful, and so that math class was a success. 

 

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2 hours ago, kfeusse said:

What I am trying to figure out is, is there any real reason to worry or push her to retake it.  (I know it won't hurt anything).  I think the test anxiety thing plays into it...although she doesn't show it...she does know that Math is her weakness and I think she gets pretty unsettled inside about that.  So what would it really gain us...except "proof" that we didn't ruin our kids by homeschooling them to those who question that?

I would not be focused so much on the ACT score itself, but rather on the math mastery. If her composite is a 21 but English is high, that means math is really low. Which likely puts her in remedial math at college. Instead of focusing on a test retake, I would focus on remediating math itself and on getting evaluations if you suspect a math related learning disorder so that she has documentation at college and can receive accommodations.

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My dd scored really low her first time as well. She needed to learn how to pace herself. She brought her score up 8 points and got in to every college she applied. 

My youngest dd has test anxiety; she is doing lots of practice tests and spending a lot of time on the test before she even takes one. 

Both girls are great students; they do not miss assignments. 

I am not sure if it always grade inflation. My kids' classes emphasis written papers, projects, presentations, as well as tests. They get A+ on anything where they can spend more time on it like a research project. They don't do as well on tests; especially multiple choice tests. I think they are over-thinkers and have a hard time picking the right answer. They would prefer an essay test over True or False any day!

 

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Quite common based on our local schools. My neighbor graduated "with honors" whatever the cutoff was for that with an 18 ACT and that was not upsetting to anyone. Fairly standard.

I have two students who are not great test takers but never miss an assignment, do all the extra credit offered, etc. My 3rd is my best test taker but could easily have the lowest GPA, He forgets details which in online classes mean zeros (like completing a test and failing to submit it...grr...or failing to make required discussion board posts). Also, he is taking more and harder classes than his older brothers did, because he honestly appears to have a higher aptitude and the actual content comes easy to him. However, he currently has an F in geometry and a D in an literature class for failing to submit assignments. He completed them, just didn't submit them and didn't realize it until it was too late. He has a B in his chemistry class even though he has missed some assignments and taken zeros because he scores high nineties on the tests. OK...so I turned this into a vent about my own 10th grader but you see what I mean. This kid could easily end up with the highest test scores yet lowest GPA of any of my kids.  

My older students who always scored lower than their GPA would suggest really let it get into their heads at some point. So test anxiety plays a role. Don't even get me started on True or False...they just melt even though they could explain concepts in an essay.

 

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This will be my daughter. She works incredibly hard for her grades. Dyslexia and slow processing, even with extra time, make timed multiple choice tests the single worst option for any sort of test for her.

It is hugely frustrating because her GRADES show that she is able to do the work. Her test scores highlight her disabilities.

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