Starting to worry..

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by LesakUSAFA, Sep 27, 2015.

  1. LesakUSAFA

    LesakUSAFA Member

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    It is my dream to attend USAFA, but with every dream comes roadblocks. My roadblock is my ACT scores. I sit at 1/193 students in my class and have many leadership and volunteer accolades. I've taken the ACT three times now and my best scores are Eng: 26 Read: 22 Math: 28 Sci: 33

    If every part of my aspect looks great but ACT does not, should I still be worrying? I am retaking it again, but it seems that I've hit a plateau. Any help is welcome.
     
  2. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    Have your tried the SAT? Some do better one test over another.
     
  3. brovol

    brovol Member

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    My son is seeking admission to usafa, usma, and usna, and worries about same thing. His cumulative is 30. I think it's all relative to the competition in your district mostly. We live in mid Michigan, so ultimately realized that some of the fantastic scores that are posted on this forum need to be put in perspective. East coast and northeast US are more competitive areas, and in your area the competition may not be as brutal.

    Also remember that the academies superscore. My son last exam focused on math and English only and raised his mathe to a 32, and English bumped a point to 29. His science and reading were low on that test, but that shouldn't hurt him. It looks like your reading is the killer there, and that is tougher to improve on, but just keep doing practice questions.

    My son is also trying for the first time the SAT October 3. That exam is set up different. In practice he said math and essay is same as ACT, but the other part has similarities and differences. We figured no harm it trying it.

    Good luck.
     
  4. skismuggs

    skismuggs Member

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    Take the SAT, you might do better on that. Good luck.
     
  5. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    Definitely take the sat also if you can. Some people do better on one test over the other. And yes, the academy does super score. This simply means that they don't take one test sitting as a whole. Meaning, they look at each individual subject test separately and use the best score of all the times you took the test. In other words, your individual test score can never go down. If you took the test 3 times and your best math score was the 2nd test, they'll use that score for math; and they'll use the first science score if that was the best, etc.

    As for your competition, realize that you don't have just one set of people as your competition. As a minimum, you could have 2 sets of people you could be competing with. Some people could have up to 4-5 groups of people they are competing against. If you only have 1 nomination, say your district representative, you will compete against 9 other people on that slate of nominees for 1 appointment. If you don't get that appointment, you may be competing against 9 others if you also had a senators nomination. If you don't get the appointment for that slate either, you will eventually go into a national pool along with all the others who didn't receive an appointment from the slates they were on. The national pool will have a couple/few thousand people in it. These then become your competition for a remaining 500-600 appointments.

    This is why it's important to get as many nominations as possible. It's like having a lottery ticket. The more tickets you have, the more chances you have. But the competition chances. You could be the second best on your districts nomination list and didn't get the appointment, but in the national pool, you could have 1000 people with better scores than you. This is also why the academy looks at the whole candidate. Not just gap, not just act/sat, not just sports, leadership, volunteer time, etc.

    So all you can do is the best that YOU can do. You can't control your competition. Don't worry about things you can't control. Get the best gap, act/sat, etc. that you can do. Make your application/resume the best that you can make it. There will always be someone better than you at something or some part of the application. Again, the academy looks at the whole candidate.

    Unfortunately, having wanting to attend the academy or it being your dream, doesn't matter. Your desire only carries a small amount of weight and that's only recognized in things like your alo interview. And the academy is never what you thought it was going to be once you get there. Even if it's something you say you wanted your whole life. I can't tell you how many cadets quit the academy who were at the top of the selection and who wanted it their entire life. They raise it wasn't what they expected. Best of luck.
     
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  6. JestFutureFalcon

    JestFutureFalcon Member

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    Practice reading act sample test passages. What helped me is forcing myself to only spend 2-2.5 minutes skimming over each passage. Your main problem on reading will probably be getting stuck on what the passage says because some passage are very vague (prose fiction I believe). Don't dwell just keep your eyes moving. As for English, look up subject verb agreement because that is a huge part of the English. I would say just use common sense, but that isn't very helpful. Spend more time reading so you get a good idea of the English grammar rules. Bottom line, if you want to get better test scores, you have to test more often. Spend an hour every day for the next few weeks doing a practice reading or englishtest. Other than that I don't know how to help you but hey I wish the best of luck! We share a common dream so I hope you can get those test scores up. I know how frustrating it is to plateau. Last year I was stuck at 27 composite for 2 tests in a row but I broke though the plateau just by doing a lot of practice tests and researching what the act tests on.
     
  7. USAFA83GradWife

    USAFA83GradWife Member

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    My DD did way better on the ACT than the SAT. The questions just made more sense to her. Some do better with one format over the other.

    I agree with everyone else, try the SAT
     
  8. JestFutureFalcon

    JestFutureFalcon Member

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    I was one of those who had better act so I'm a bit biased against sat. My act was 31 comp but sat was 1760 with reading below USAFA average. If you like studying vocabulary and having writing a required portion (until March) then go for that sat
     
  9. FalconsRock

    FalconsRock Parent

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    My DD also did much better on the SAT (she almost aced it). She tested 31 composite on ACT. It is worth the try to take the SAT. You will never know, unless you just do it!
     
  10. MN-Dad-2016

    MN-Dad-2016 Member

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    My DS was in the same situation. He started taking the test in 9th grade and got a 26 his 1st time. He then bumped up to 28 and was stuck for 2-3 tests. I forget exactly but he took at it least 6 times. He finally got a 33 and I will explain how.

    Tip # 1. BUY THE ANSWERS to the tests and see what you missed and why. It's on the ACT website.
    Tip #2. For him, he got it to the point where he saw a strong correlation of missed questions based off of time. Meaning he ran out of time and he had to guess. So he did extremely well up to the point where he was rushed.

    Solution: He took a Kaplan course that taught him how to expedite test taking and it work. That was what raised his score. He still struggled with the timed texts as he is analytical. So the ACT tests the ability to take test fast. Your could have the knowledge yet still score under your potential. Buying the tests also helped him know where his weakness was. If he would have went right to Kaplan in the beginning and bought his 2 tests, he still would have gotten that 33. So doing the same thing multiple times will only repeat your test scores. You need to try another path.
     
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  11. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

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    WHOA! I have heard of the local prep school (with a $20K tuition for 7th graders & up) starting the kids out as 12 year olds practicing the SAT. I know that in today's super competitive arena the temptation is there and people do it, but it does shock me. I don't applaud teaching to the SAT or ACT in high school either, but no one is interested in my opinion on THAT.

    My kids took the SAT once.
     
  12. got_milk

    got_milk Member

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    Listen here. I was in your EXACT same shoes. Ok in all subjects, excelled in one and bombed reading. I took one of those ACT prep classes and they told me of a couple different strategies for the reading section.

    The one that worked best for me was blazing through the passages as quickly as I could. Not really soaking in the content to the best of my ability. But once I got to the questions, I knew exactly where the answers were in the passages. I just had to look back and find them.

    Another thing that helped me was underlining the sentences I knew there would be questions on. That comes with practice.

    Last point: Take the ACT as many times as you possibly can. By the time I was done, I had taken it 9 times. And yeah, I was jealous of my buddies who only took it once or twice. But I don't regret it now that I'm sitting in Calculus at USAFA typing out this reply.

    Let me know if you have any questions and I'll be happy to help!
     
  13. MN-Dad-2016

    MN-Dad-2016 Member

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    As got_milk suggested, he learned via an ACT prep class how to skim the content and still get the right answer. That may not be intuitive because some people do it naturally. Like the OP and poster above suggested, the reading section was my DS's problem area. He simply ran out of time. It's not the lack of reading comprehension brain power.

    Therefore no one is advocating teaching to a test. I'm not really sure how they could if they wanted to. After all, the ACT test contains fairly basic technical math, science, and reading comprehension. The prep courses merely covers the material which is good to know so it can be viewed as forced studying. But the benefit of the course to my son and got_milk was learned efficiency. He could have taken it 100 times and the results would have been the same. Once he hit 33 which was a 3 point bump after the prep class, he called it a day. He still ran out of time but got much better. I suppose he could have studied more and shot for a 36 but life got busy. Previously, he plateaued until he learned how to test faster. As a side note, I don't have the timing and score down pat. But I know as a whole, he went up 7 points. But in 9th grade, a lot of the classes were not taught. He was curious what he would get so it was his idea to try it early.

    I'm a believer that the ACT score is WAY overrated and it doesn't tell the whole story. After all, the material tested on the ACT score is a far cry from more the difficult applied math and science. So there is a ACT correlation to brain power (and still a good thing to look at) but that is about it. Since too many schools focus on standardized tests, that is the game that must be played.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2015
  14. Flyboy's Dad

    Flyboy's Dad New Member

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    My son, who is now a firstie, took the ACT and SAT multiple times, both before and after taking an intensive prep course. His SAT scores were solid, but not awesome. His ACT scores were definitely not as good as yours. He ran into some of the same time issues that some others have mentioned. Looking back, I think what helped him so much was that we were in NJ, where EVERYBODY wants to go a little south to Navy or a little north to Army. There was not a lot of competition for USAFA. His overall application was solid, but not fantastic: good GPA, challenging classes, varsity sports (not a star), JROTC, CAP, lots of volunteer service. But he got the appointment, and is looking forward to graduation and commissioning this Spring! He does joke that he half-expects someone from admissions to tap him on the shoulder and tell him there's been some kind of a mistake :)
     
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  15. LivinTheDream

    LivinTheDream Banned

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    Your problem is going to be getting the nomination. Our Congressman/Senators only looked at Test scores for a first round cut.
     
  16. cb7893

    cb7893 Member

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    One's frame of mind alone is probably worth 3-4 ACT points to the good or bad.

    Both my sons smoked the Math SAT, but had problems with Verbal. We used a private tutor for each, spending about $30-40/hour for 6-8 hours. BTW, we didn't pay the tutor to watch them take the tests. He taught them the techniques which they employed while taking the tests at home. He then analyzed the results with them looking for consistent weaknesses, most of which were correctable.

    In both sons' cases, it was intimidation by and dislike of the Verbal section feeding off of each other. Once they learned the "tricks", it became more of a game. There are general strategies for test taking, but also tactics for standardized tests. The SAT and ACT even have their own individual peculiarities. There is a specific way to read each question. For instance, one can eliminate answers almost without reading the question, thereby giving more time to go back and check one's work before the buzzer sounds. The tactics are few and they are simple. Learn the skills and then employ them with practice tests. After doing that, you will walk into the test looser and with greater confidence.

    Whatever you do, don't simply grind through endless practice tests. You'll only frustrate yourself. I'm sure you've heard of "practice with a purpose." The best athletes arrive at the game with a few butterflies, but also with confidence based on an attention to detail and technique during practices which he/she made meaningful. Make sure you walk in with that same mindset.

    Best of luck!
     
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  17. AngelicSkye

    AngelicSkye New Member

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    I scored a cumulative 30 on my first test and a 32 on my second. I am currently studying to hit a 34. Honestly, what's helped me is buying the official ACT book (there are also free tests online) and taking tests over and over and over. Once you grade the test you can go back and see what you did wrong. Math is the easiest to bring up that way. I scored a perfect 36 on my reading. I've always been an avid reader but what's helped me on my test is the TIQRAP technique. Read all titles and sub titles first, next circle all illustrations and rad their captions, read the questions (don't bother reading the answer choices), read the passage, answer the questions, and find proof for your answers in the passage.
    It's hard to explain it in detail here. I would love to help you out more if you need it.
     
  18. F15DOC

    F15DOC Member

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    Angelicsky is that a technique discussed in the ACT prep book is that a technique you learned elsewhere, very good advice. My son has taken ACT twice with composite 30 on both of them, higher sections on one and different on another. He is so far advanced in math that the questions are years behind him, so on his one final ACT exam he is going to practice the math questions and get brushed up. He has scored 32 on the reading, but that technique might help him even more.
     

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