Low ACT test score

Discussion in 'Naval Academy - USNA' started by MichUSNA2021hopefulparent, Mar 6, 2016.

  1. MichUSNA2021hopefulparent

    MichUSNA2021hopefulparent Member

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    My DS is a junior in high school and has a good overall package, but has taken the ACT twice and his reading and writing scores are in the toilet, 19 & 20. His composite score is only 24 as a result. English is not much better at 22. He does well in math at 30. Science low at 25. Scheduled to test again in April. I have read on this forum that USNA and NROTC only look at math and English, so this would give him a 26 composite. This is still low. If his scores don't improve, looking for speculation on what his chances for either USNA or NROTC are.

    His other stats are: unweighted GPA 3.85. School is competitive, small private school with 275 total students, only 69 in his class where he is ranked 15 - Top 22% is low I know.

    5 Honors classes, including geometry, chemistry, advanced algebra & trig, English 11, physics; AP biology and AP US History. Spanish 3, precalc.

    Senior yr schedule 5 AP'S in Eng, Span, Calc, USGovt/Econ, Physics
    3 yrs concert band, will be 4 yrs next yr.

    3 yrs football, 2 varsity.
    3 yrs basketball, 1 varsity.
    3 yrs baseball, 1 varsity.
    Captain on freshman basketball, JV basketball and on JV baseball.

    NHS
    President of sophomore class on student council, math tutor, mentor for 2 freshman students.

    EC'S: area community clothes closet/food pantry junior executive board. Volunteers 4 hrs every Saturday 4 hrs in clothes closet. Organized clothes drive in school for clothes closet.
    Volunteer with American Legion, VFW, Disabled Veterans of America at VA Hospital.
    Mission trip to Mexico with church group.
    Other various volunteering in community with church group.
    Church camp counselor 2 yrs .
    Will be attending Boys State this July.
    Going to USNA CVW later this month.
    Accepted to USNA SS.
    Accepted to USAFA SS but declined due to conflict with Boys State.

    300+ total volunteer hrs.

    Any thoughts or opinions welcomed from the wise sages.
    Thank you.
     
  2. usnabgo08

    usnabgo08 USNA 2008/BGO

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    I would't view the ACT scores as a composite -- the English and math are looked at separately. I would really focus in on English (just be mindful if your DS is applying to other schools, they might look at the other sections and composite, so that should also influence which sections you hone in on)...and instead of worrying about the odds, which you have zero control over, your DS has some control over the ACTs. Try practice tests, tutors, study books on testing strategies, etc.
     
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  3. brovol

    brovol Member

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    I am no expert, but my guess is that, short of being a very top level running back, offensive lineman, or principal nominee, I think the English score would be an insurmountable barrier unless it is raised substantially. It seems that ACT/SAT scores may be the biggest single element considered, and I think it is well established that academics are the most factored componant of the candidate score. Your sons gpa is good, but not so high that it would make up for poor ACT scores.

    Although the two schools do things a little different in terms of admissions, I can tell you that my sons West Point regional commander told him that his class standing was by far the weakest part of his application. He has a 3.8 gpa, and ranked 20 out of 139, which is in a similar range as your son. Mine had ACT scores of m34, e31, s34, and r30 which made up for that. He recieved an appointment to WP but still waiting to hear from USNA. He too is president of NHS, and has impressive athletic resume.

    It's hard getting into the academies. Real hard. My understanding though is that it is even harder once you get in. They take the best applicants they think are best suited for success. Test scores are a big deal with the SA's.

    Is your son a junior or senior? Good news is that he can keep taking the test. My son improved each time;sometimes just on luck. Have him take it over and over. Even if only one section improves, that works great under a super scored system.
     
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  4. Fairhope dad

    Fairhope dad Member

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    From the research I've done and following my sons application process I would recommend he find a tutor for English and take as many practice ACT test as he can. My son went from a 22 to a 32 in English between his 10th and 11th grade yr. mainly from taking the practice test. What I don't understand is why he's not achieving a higher score after taking advanced English 11. As far as Science his AP Biology and Chemistry basics should have helped him yield a higher score. I would recommend taking as many full ACT practice test as he can and ask his teachers to explain what he missed. The Real ACT red book has many practice test in it. He may just get nervous and not test well. Practicing these test seemed to help some kids that my wife tutored. Good luck.
     
  5. Norfolk63

    Norfolk63 privateer

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    Practice tests under timed conditions. Tutors help pinpoint the specific areas where the student needs help. But at the end of the day everything depends on the student. Just like with the CFA, if he/she is internally motivated, scores will improve.
     
  6. SC2015

    SC2015 Parent

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    Has he tried the SAT yet? Some do better on the SAT than on the ACT. On a side note, I was told that the ACT is designed to be taken by seniors, so there could be some material on the ACT that your DS has not yet learned or been exposed to.
     
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  7. goforspaatz

    goforspaatz USAFA c/o 2020

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    A lot of the ACT is timing. I suggest checking out "ACT 36 in Just 7 Steps" as it has some really helpful timing splits in it that help you budget time. For the writing section, talked to a grader for ACT/SAT - they are paid by the essay, and he said it takes him roughly 12 seconds to grade an essay. All my research points to filling up pages as the best way to score higher. Use the $10 words, etc.

    Also, continue taking ACT practice tests, from every source possible. Eventually, you will start seeing patterns and trends in questions, those are reflected on the test itself - I found questions straight out of a practice test at an actual ACT sitting.

    My super-scores from 2 tests: 36 English, 36 Reading, 32 Writing, 34 Science, 31 Math.
     
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  8. md403

    md403 Member

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    I would also try www.jrotccollegeprep.com. It is for both ACT/SAT. Remember that USNA super scores, meaning that they take the best scores from any test. NROTC-MO uses only best scores from single test. As others have posted other back ups schools, usev various things from ACT/SAT composite, science, math reading or any combination. Take the various preps and see how much your scores improve. ACT 36 in Just 7 Steps really does work. Our family uses it and our scores are similar to goforspaatz'. Good luck and remember as a junior take every test that your family can afford and use what works for you. Good luck to yours on all of his applications!
     
  9. MABlue

    MABlue Member

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    Familiarity is the key with any standardized testing. The first time I took the SAT, with absolutely no prep, I received a 700 on the Critical Reading section. On my second test, after taking a few practice tests the week before, I scored a 740. Most of the questions aren't truly difficult, but rather you had to have seen similar question before(i.e. practice)
     
  10. MichUSNA2021hopefulparent

    MichUSNA2021hopefulparent Member

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    Ok thank you to everyone who offered suggestions! I just bought the book ACT 36 in Just 7 Steps on Amazon for $9.
     
  11. Zandercott

    Zandercott USAFA

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    Yes, try the SAT. I did horribly at the ACT- it is a lot different than the SAT. Those that don't do well on the ACT may do great at the SAT. Although as of yesterday, the SAT has changed to the new format. Some kids found the new PSAT easier than the old. It had harder math questions, but all things we actually learned in school unlike the old SAT. I took the new one yesterday.
     
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  12. HassamaMama

    HassamaMama Member

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    I actually took the SAT first, which made the ACT much easier to study for six months later. I did as many practice tests as I possibly could in five minutes less than what was alotted on each section. Exposing yourself to as many question types as you possibly can is key. Trust me on this, I got a 2220 on the SAT, 720 CR and 770 Math, so I kinda have a clue as to what I am talking about. ;)
    After I took the SAT twice (take it multiple times if you need to, it helps!) to get my score I then waited a few months and then took the ACT, which I did not need to study much for. I took it twice because the first time I had no clue how to take the science section. Second time I got a 33 composite, 35 on both English and Math.
    The key is to remember to stay calm when you take it. If you start freaking out you won't do well.
    Other than test scores he looks solid - I like that he has lots of ECs and leadership positions. Study hard and he'll be fine.
    Hope this helps, and good luck to your son!
     
  13. ClimberGirl

    ClimberGirl Member

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    @MichUSNA2021hopefulparent
    Not sure if this will reassure you or not (I would think so), but I received an LOA to USMA with these ACT scores:
    English-27
    Math-27
    Science- 25
    Reading- 24
    Writing- 26
    Funny thing was: I found my LOA after getting home from taking the ACT again in September... my new scores were:
    English- 27
    Math- 29
    Science- 28
    Reading- 28
    Writing- 27
    At the end of December, I received an LOA to USAFA as well.

    Test scores are a big part, but not everything. Things in my favor include being first in my class, attending girls state, varsity letters, team captains, and serving as president for several things within my school. So glad your DS got into boys state! Just keep focusing on GPA and trying to get into top 15%. He can do this!!
     
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  14. ClimberGirl

    ClimberGirl Member

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    For ACT, have him practice with his own watch. TIMING IS EVERYTHING. (Buying a watch, practicing, and using that on the test is what really helped me)
     
  15. MichUSNA2021hopefulparent

    MichUSNA2021hopefulparent Member

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    ClimberGirl, thanks for the info and positive words!
     
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  16. MichUSNA2021hopefulparent

    MichUSNA2021hopefulparent Member

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    HassamaMama, thank you very much also!
     
  17. USMILITARY123

    USMILITARY123 Member

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    I was in the same situation. I took the ACT 5 times... If you son really wants it, he will have to get to the "grind" and learn the content. My first ACT score was a 23 english, then 24 english, then 23 english, then 32 english, then 31 english. I retook it because of my english score. My aunt is a high school English teacher who told me I could NOT raise my score more than 2 points up or down; I didn't listen. I told her I was going to prove her wrong.. 9 point increase is not impossible. I can prove that. Your son has to be the one who will define that a large ACT score boost is not impossible. ACT sparknotes, talk to teachers, upperclassmen, enroll in a tutor course, get a book, study, and GRIND! He can do it!!!!

    I have been accepted to USMA and am waiting for USNA. Best of luck to him. Enroll in every test till from now till senior year.
     
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  18. MichUSNA2021hopefulparent

    MichUSNA2021hopefulparent Member

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    Thanks US military 1 2 3
     
  19. Just Dad

    Just Dad Member

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    I have two high school seniors headed to college next year. One kid has an appointment to the USNA (was nominated to USAFA but didn't apply). My (long) input relates to the other kid. We adopted her out of China in 1998. like many Chinese orphans, she'd had a rough go in a rural orphanage for the first 11mths of her life. Malnutrition early in life is a suspected cause of a diagnosed auditory processing disability for her. She is not a natural student, but over the years she's learned ways to compensate (she works harder).


    While my "natural" kid was bagging 33-34 Act scores and going on recruiting visits to PAC12, Ivy, ACC, SWC, and NAVY my adopted daughter racked up a 16 !!on the ACT and carried a 2.9 GPA. We were getting her ready to accept going to a community college next year when my wife scheduled a trip up the road to Western Washington University (we live in Seattle). Western is a good school, my wife went there for undergrad (loved the place), and I don't think there is a better campus anywhere in the country.

    My daughter decides Western is the ONLY place she wants to go to school. We talk to a counselor and learn that because she is technically a "first generation" to attend college, they give her a break on admissions. That said, even with lower entrance requirements she needed at least 3.2 GPA and a 23 on the ACT. The kid decides to buckle down and work to a goal of getting into Western. My wife starts in with "you can do it honey!!"; I'm thinking its good that she wants to take on the challenge, but we are gonna have a real tear-fest before this is over. So, while my other kid was getting tons of athletic and scholastic recognition, this girl puts her head down and runs her own race; no glory at its end like her sibling------just something she really wanted

    I figured the grades thing could be done, like I said, she works hard--- she just needed to demand more from her teachers and find the guts to risk looking stupid in class by asking questions. She got her GPA up to a 3.18 for application submission. The ACT was a different matter; moving from a 16 to a 23 composite score means moving from the bottom 30% to the top 35% of those taking the test. Frankly, I didn't think she could do it, she is just not a "quick study". She worked hard on the ACT over her Jr year, then last August we were at a large dinner party; my daughter walks over gives me a hug, pulls me down to her 5'3" height, kisses me on the cheek and whispers that she scored a composite 25 on the Act. I had to leave the room for a moment, afraid that talking about what she'd done would have me balling in front of our guests.

    The single most impactful thing she did was to find a service that allowed her to take a proctored and scored ACT .......EVERY WEEK! Almost every Saturday for 3 months before the "Real ACT" my daughter took a proctored and scored practice ACT test. Out of 10 such tests (at about $25 each) we paid an additional $60 for a tutors to review the test with her 5 or 6 times. No broad subject matter tutoring: it was more like "you missed questions #s 6-11, lets have a look at what they are testing for in that section and figure it out". Then next week she'd do it all again. The impact on my daughter was HUGE! It cured 80% of her test anxiety, and the rapid direct feedback she was getting on the tested material cemented the rules/material she was learning. Lastly, she got much better at understanding the test questions.

    We found that most of the "ACT testing" offered on Craig list or Via Internet was part of a sales process intended to get you to buy generalized subject matter tutoring (meh). Asking around, among parents of classmates and team mates we were directed to small reputable company that made a business out of matching student athletes to colleges and scholarships. They were not the big internet scholarship brokers; a small local operation they worked with PSAs to find the right school, help build a Pkg and coach the kid in approaching/talking to NCAA coaches. Among their bag of services was help with ACT and SAT tests. They did 2 proctored ACT sessions every weekend. My daughter didn't need/buy the broader counseling services, she was just another butt in a chair for a practice exam they were doing anyway. The company we used was Varsity Sports Institute VSI (www.go-vsi.com). Obviously you wouldn't use them, but a look at the site should give you an idea of what to look for in your locality. Not saying you should layout $ for the full boat of services of a company like VSI ---I am saying a company like VSI might be happy to let your son take weekly practice ACTs. I'll add that companies like VSI know which tutoring services actually deliver, (there is some real crap out there).

    To finish the story; over thanksgiving she went out to get the mail and disappeared. We found her on the edge of her bed crying holding a BIG FAT early admission envelope from Western.

    For what its worth my suggestion is to ATTACK the test, effort there will yield the highest score return. The BEST way to do that is to find a place/service that lets kids take regular weekly practice tests----there will be one or more where you live, you just have to find it.

    BTW, someone said that managing time during the test was helpful. I agree. There is an ACT timer that graphically represents time remaining for each section of the test. It costs $48-$52( I think). They are totally legal and they do help. Just a glance tells the kid EXACTLY how much time remains in a section. Just search ACT timer on Amazon.

    Besides offering my thanks to you for giving me the opportunity to tell the "Other Daughter's" story I'll add one more thing.

    Looking back on what this kid did, I wish I'd spent more time along the way CELEBRATING the EFFORT. Its been real easy to rejoice in the win, but I should have been telling her along the way that I thought:

    It took guts to challenge her self the way she did,
    It took grace to let her sibling be the star without letting envy discourage her,
    It took good judgment to find the tools she needed to succeed, and
    It took effort and determination to get the job done.

    Whether she got into Western Washington University or not, the traits she was exhibiting guarantee a happy successful life.
    She knew what a 25 score meant, she knew she'd exceeded her own expectations. I wish I'd been the Dad who pointed out what a solid stud she was along the way. It might have made her step lighter on all those Saturday Mornings, and it would have made a 21 on the ACT less of a blow (had that happend)----Kinda talking to myself here.

    Best of luck to your son

    sorry for the long post
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2016
  20. socalfan

    socalfan Member

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    THANK YOU FOR THE GREAT POST Just Dad! Congrats to your Mid-Sib! My two are not equal in all things either and it's very important to encourage and rejoice in the trials and successes of both! My mid gained 6 points from the use of a similar type tutoring style, though not nearly as extensive. That's got to be one heck of a dual celebration in your house!
     

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