ACT help

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by af99, Jun 24, 2016.

  1. af99

    af99 New Member

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    My son will be junior this year he is very interested in Air Force Academy. He took ACT first time earlier this month and did not do very well -
    Math 26
    Reading 30
    English 26
    Science 24

    Any suggestions from experienced people on how to prepare in order to bring his scores competitive.

    Appreciate any help...
     
  2. Joos

    Joos Member

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    Reading: start reading a lot of books 8 years ago

    Science: take practice science tests. They're not really science based. It's reading graphs and I never even really read the paragraph explanation

    Everything: take practice tests, go over the answers you got wrong. The timing is a huge problem for a lot of people so make sure you get that timing down, don't waste questions.

    Remember that the academies superscore so take it as many times as possible to bump each individual section up as much as possible, even if it's one section at a time
     
  3. Padre101

    Padre101 Parent

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    I don't know how this comment is helpful.

    Anyway, to the OP, the ACT is probably the easiest exam to improve. Take many practice tests. My DS, despite his busy schedule, took an entire ACT practice exam every Saturday for 10 weeks before his first ACT exam. It's like running a marathon. You have to have the experience and endurance to do well.

    Also, if you can afford it, having an expert one-on-one tutor helps. Your DS needs to strive to get his composite score above 30 to be considered at all competitive for Summer Seminar and for an Appointment.

    Good news is he still has time.
     
  4. MN-Dad-2016

    MN-Dad-2016 Member

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    To the OP. We were in your shoes 6 years ago. You need to ID what is going on. Meaning, were the wrong answers caused by your son not testing fast enough? Or are there specific subjects that have not been taken yet and he is forced to guess? In both cases (test speed and missing a key class) was the reason that our son had some lower score sections.
    If I was in your shoes, I would dedicate this summer to raising his ACT score. Meaning I would resign from a summer job or whatever it takes. It's show time!

    I've mention this before on other threads. Buy the ACT tests (it is a paid option when you sign up). You can therefore see what the exact questions and reason for a wrong answer. Our son took a Kaplan ACT course ($500ish) that taught techniques how to test quicker. His issues were mostly related to simply running out of time and that was tied into feeling pressure to test faster (not having a clear head). You could see it in the patterns he got wrong (where he was forced to guestimate during the last several questions). Those efficiency techniques were invaluable while others automatically have that attribute down pat. When you are not worried about finishing in time, that relieves stress and his scores shot up.

    Like Padre101 ^^, take the practice test over and over and study the content that you got wrong. The reality is the ACT is pretty core stuff. It's not difficult material. But you have to figure out what is tripping him up. Our son boosted his overall score to a 33. He probably would have gotten a 36 if he had more time so there was some remaining anxiety which slowed him down. The Academy fixed his test taking anxiety which was the partial cause of his slower test taking speed. so for him, in non timed tests he rocked. But timed tests are a reality of life so it's part of a needed skill set.

    It's not the time to be cheap (buy the tests, and take a good course). I know. Some are reading this and thought "my son didn't need a course". Fine. Mine did and others do too. There are only so many bullets left (actual ACT tests that you can take) and you need to bring those scores up. If you really want it, dedicate this entire summer knowing that he gave it everything he had.

    All the best!!
     
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  5. brovol

    brovol Member

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    I agree with the posts above. Practice may not make perfect, but it makes a huge difference, as does the experience of taking the actual exams. You want it to become almost routine.

    Going over your answers, particularly those you got wrong, or had some questions about even if you ended with the correct answer, is very helpful. My son found lots of free YouTube stuff that he found helpful too. In total, I think we bought only two books, and the exams themselves as our total expense.

    The ACT/SAT is the single most important part of your candidate score I think, and it can be improved between the beginning of the application process to the end. Superscoring is a big deal, so take advantage by retaking the exam as often as you can.
     
  6. falconfamily

    falconfamily Member

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    One thing to keep in mind is that the ACT is curriculum based so when you take it - matters. i.e. if you have not had a AP science course yet as a sophomore, you will likely struggle in the ACT.
     
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  7. brovol

    brovol Member

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    That's true of course, but my son says he just got a break with science. He had a 29 in science, and insisted that he was lucky to get that, as it was his ACT Achilles heel, but then out of nowhere he got a 34, which he says was nothing more or less than a gift from God. Lol. I would like to think he made his own luck, but he laughs and says I'm giving him more credit than he deserves . He did though get a 34 in math too, which he was disappointed with, after thinking he aced that section. But he has always done well in math.
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2016
  8. Joos

    Joos Member

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    I disagree. The ACT science section is all interpreting graphs and charts, which are often so random that the reader has never heard of the concept before. They often have to do with reading charts and graphs with multiple variables. In this sense the more practice you get reading charts and being able to find what you are looking for QUICKLY the better off you will be
     
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  9. Love4monsters

    Love4monsters Member

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    Our very small school offers no AP courses. My son scored in the 99% in both math/ science and the 98% in reading/English on his June 2016 ACT without the AP courses. I wish we had them as the selective colleges expect their prospective students to have exposure to them. Are they mandatory for admission? Will he be penalized without them although he is very bright? He did go to SLE which was a huge deal here. First in his school to be accepted.
     
  10. falconfamily

    falconfamily Member

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    Which is part of the curriculum for AP science. i.e. :

    Learning Objectives: LO 1.22 The student is able to use data from a real or simulated population(s), based on graphs or models of types of selection, to predict what will happen to the population in the future. [See SP 6.4]

    LO 1.23 The student is able to justify the selection of data that address questions related to reproductive isolation and speciation. [See SP 4.1]

    The ability to capture, correlate, and interpret data is part and parcel of a science education. Thus lab skills are an essential part of it as well. Basically my understanding is that it helps to take the ACT or SAT at a point in HS when you are more likely to have been exposed to the subject.
     
  11. USMAROTCFamily

    USMAROTCFamily Member

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    No, he will not be penalized. If he is taking the toughest curriculum at his school, is ranked high in his class and does well on the standardized test, then there is no worry. Our DS graduated from a small charter school (15 in his graduating class) that offered no AP classes at all, but was an academically challenging college prep curriculum with honors programs. Our school district has never had a problem with kids not getting into the most selective schools. DS got appointments to both Service Academies he applied to, as well a both ROTC scholarships he applied to.
     
  12. af99

    af99 New Member

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    Sincere thanks to everyone who has responded. Here are my takeaways-

    * Practice, practice and more practice
    * Get private tutor if possible
    * Taking AP Science in junior year may help further
     
  13. MN-Dad-2016

    MN-Dad-2016 Member

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    You forgot one! :)

    * Start NOW and make it his main focus.

    Take no chances. Clear his schedule. If he wants it bad enough, then he will do what needs to be done. Raising your score 6-8 points is some sections is going to be a lot of work! So start now and it will be a challenge.

    Even if he falls short of getting into the Academy, raising your ACT score helps for every college.

    Here is an interesting factoid. The English section has 75 questions. A score 26 means he got about 15 wrong. To get a score of 33, you can get about 5 wrong (so improving your score of getting 10 more questions right== a 6 point gain). There are 40 test questions on the science section. His current score of 24 means he got about 26-27 answers correct. He has his work cut out for him in that section. Show him the math. If he wants it bad enough, he will kick butt. If he pushes back and wants to coast, then he will be where he should be which is falling short of his dreams. That's the reality. I'm rooting for you!!!!
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2016
  14. MN-Dad-2016

    MN-Dad-2016 Member

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    You forgot one! :)

    * Start NOW and make it his main focus. Take no chances. Clear his schedule. If he wants it bad enough, then he will do what needs to be done. Raising your score 6-8 points is some sections is going to be a lot of work! So start now.
     
  15. time2

    time2 Member

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    Some students do better on SAT vs ACT so good to take both. You didn't say how well your son is doing in h.s. in subjects such at Math, English or Science (and don't need to discuss that here). However, since standardized tests measure general knowledge learned throughout h.s., it is unlikely that someone who is just average in Math (for example), will suddenly get amazing ACT/SAT scores regardless of how much you spend on tutors/tip/tricks.
     
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  16. md403

    md403 Member

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