Career Center Offers Students Help With ACT Prep

Counselors at Central are providing tips and tutoring as important ACT test dates approach.

By Melia Braun

As the ACT season approaches for juniors, Laura Lloyd-Smith, a counselor at Central, has a few tips for students to improve their score and to avoid panic the night before a test. Lloyd-Smith explains that it is important to put in the time to study for the ACT, no matter what method. “Whether it is using a paper copy of a ‘retired test’ or using an online, interactive format, studying helps to familiarize you with the content and types of questions.”

She points out that the test is relatively the same each month because it is a standardized test. Therefore getting in enough practice will allow you to become familiar with the types of questions and the time limits. “Practicing enough so that you can feel confident that you will be able to finish each test (English, Math, Reading and Science) will ultimately be reflected in your score,” she says. She also reminds students that there is no penalty for guessing: leaving questions blank will negatively affect students’ scores.

Lloyd-Smith recognizes that students are busy and often don’t put in the time to study for the ACT. However, there is a solution for students next year at Central. “Next year we are offering ACT Prep as a non-credit class at CHS. We hope that the ability to spend time during the day minimizes the barriers that some students face–we know that it is hard to carve out time to study with other commitments and maybe having time to do so during the regular school day will be more convenient for students.”

Jenny Griffin, a teacher at Central High School, understands that students are busy, but she ideas about how to get in some practice. “If you like planners or the calendar feature on your phone, schedule an hour a week or 15 minutes a day the two months leading up to your ACT to practice.”

Griffin cautions students against some misconceptions about the ACT. “One misconception is that your first attempt at the ACT is your practice test,” she says. “At $52 per test this is a very costly way to prepare. I have also heard students say that if you do not know the answer, always choose C. Better strategies would be the process of elimination, or working a math problem backwards.”

Lloyd-Smith also hears negative and misleading comments about the test but added a more positive outlook. “Students should never be defined by a number. The ACT is merely a snapshot in time. Without overemphasizing the importance of a good score, we would be doing students a disservice if we did not also share the benefits of a strong score (college admission, potential scholarship money, etc). However, the reality is that once a student graduates from high school, rarely will anyone ever ask you, or care for that matter, what your ACT score was. Your future success in a post secondary institution will be defined by your work ethic, not your ACT score.”

Photo: Standardized Test Close-Up by Shannan Muskopf on Flickr