ACT Score Worrying & New

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by Tigerplane77, Jul 8, 2017.

  1. Tigerplane77

    Tigerplane77 New Member

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    I'm a soon to be junior in high school. I've taken the ACT this summer and got a 22. This is worrisome because I am shooting for a 31. What are some tips for raising my score? I was thinking about trying the SAT to see if it is any easier. Pls Help!!! Being a fighter pilot has been a dream of mine since as long as I can remember. I currently play varsity football. I have 4.25 weighted gpa. I am in JROTC. Captain of the Cadet Challenge team. I'm in NHS and plan to attend Boy's State and JCLC. I also volunteer at church every other Sunday plus at other events but not sure if that counts as community hours. I also plan to run for an officer position on student council. Any other things should I aspire to do? I know this controversial but does being African American really help in admission?
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2017
  2. Falcon2022

    Falcon2022 Member

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    I would recommend starting some sort of prep program for ACT. They really help you learn the content of the test. I would also recommend taking the SAT also. I thought I would do better on the ACT but after consistently pulling 27's I decided to go for the SAT and got a 1400. Good luck with the rest of your application.
     
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  3. Christcorp

    Christcorp 10-Year Member

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    Definitely take both tests. The sat is better for some and the act is better for others. Take both, and take them as many times as you can. Your scores can never go down. The academy superscores your scores. Meaning they take the best from each test and combines them.

    On a side note. It's a pet peave of mine, but why are you shooting for a 31 on your ACT? Are you just trying to be competitive or meet the average. You should be shooting for a 36. And I don't mean that philosophically. I really mean you should be shooting for a 36 on each section and composite. Just like you should be shooting for an 800 on each SAT.

    Academics, including the act and sat are just one part of the total score. I have seen applicants with 34--36 act scores not receive an appointment. I've also seen some with a 27 get an appointment. Unless you know that you're going to get a perfect score in the CFE, leadership, team building, athletics, volunteering, extracurricular, and so on, you need to do the best and shoot for the best in everything. Maybe you don't get a 36. Maybe a 28. Maybe you don't have a 4.0 GPA but a 3.8. As long as you shoot for the best and do your best, you'll be able to live with the outcome. NEVER do enough to "get by" or be the average. In anything. Best of luck.
     
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  4. unkown1961

    unkown1961 Member

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    The cadet we sponsor calls those cadets "athletes." :)
     
  5. Tigerplane77

    Tigerplane77 New Member

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    I saw that you were an Academy Liason officer. I was also thinking about doing CAP. Do you think I should solely focus on Act and Sat scores or join CAP aswell to buff my extracurricular activities or JROTC should suffice with that part of my application?
     
  6. FMHS-79

    FMHS-79 Parent

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    IMHO, it all depends on all why you want to join CAP. I've seen quite of few Juniors start loading up on ECs simply to pad their resumes. SAs (and colleges) will want to see you take on leadership roles in your ECs and can spot resume padding a mile away.
     
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  7. Christcorp

    Christcorp 10-Year Member

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    I hope the "Smiley Face" is just a subtle kidding. And hopefully your sponsored cadet is only kidding.

    25% of the air force academy cadets are Intercollegiate Athletes.
    79% of the cadet corp had Varsity Letters in Sports in High School
    85-90% of the cadet class participated in varsity sports or equivalent

    On top of that, I can't tell you the COUNTLESS NUMBER of academy cadets who upon graduating the academy went on directly to grad school. I'm mostly familiar with the football team; plus they get the biggest amount of "Dumb Jock" stereotype; but I know football players who after graduating when to law school; medical school; and other grad schools. My son played on the football team. Graduated the academy with a 3.93 gpa; went directly to grad school; 18 months later received his master's degree; and 18 more months later (Total of 3 years) finished his Doctorate and now has a PhD.

    I can't tell you how many academy athletes were in the top 10% of their high school class. Many; graduated in the top 10 students.

    One of the high school applicants I was the ALO for, was NOT a recruited athlete. He WAS the Commander of his JrROTC in high school. He did average sports; nothing spectacular. Like so many others applying, "The Air Force Academy and Air Force was his DREAM". He got in with a 3.6 gpa and 28 ACT. Of course, with all those years of JrROTC and similar, he KNEW the Academy was for him...... 4 weeks into BCT; he Quit. He realized it wasn't what he thought it was.

    So right now; right here; especially for someone who has a couple years left before possibly applying or entering the academy; get a few things straight in your mind.

    1. Stop the Stereotype. The athletes attending the academies are not the "Dumb Jocks" you think of in college taking basket weaving classes. No matter how good an athlete is; the academy's #1 priority is to make individuals into leaders and officers. If the academy doesn't think an individual can handle the academics, they will not be offered an appointment.
    2. It doesn't matter if you've wanted the academy, air force, military, etc. your whole life. That doesn't mean anything on your application, and it's not going to give you any extra points when applying.
    3. No matter what you think you KNOW about the military, attending the academy, etc........... "YOU DON'T KNOW". Until you're there, you have no idea. Of the roughly 1200 that enter Basic Training; between 50+/- will quit during basic training. The academy is actually trying to work on ways to really reduce that number. Of those remaining; another 50+/- will quit before the 1st year has ended. Another 50-70 will quit by the end of the 2nd year. For the remaining 2 years, some will be let go because of academic problems or honor violations. By graduation day; that 1200 or so entering BCT will be down to around 975-1050. Approximately 200 will quit. That's about 17% of the class.

    The academy has some of the smartest and elite students in the country. Including their athletes. The academy athlete has to work twice as hard as a traditional school athlete. They also have to take the exact same engineering, math, and science classes and the rest of the cadet corp. These athletes aren't usually the 5-star athlete being recruited by Alabama, LSU, or Ohio State. Yet, the air force academy has some of the best winning records in the entire NCAA. That's because their athletes are smarter than the average college recruited athlete.

    The academy is a very diverse institution. This includes athletes. There's a Sticky at the very top of this forum. It explains WHY Athletics/Sports is so important when applying to the academy. Check it out.
     
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  8. Christcorp

    Christcorp 10-Year Member

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    Take the classes and do the extra curricular activities that you WANT to do. Don't do it to "PAD" your application. ALO's and the academy (And ALL Universities) see this all the time. A senior who's never been involved in athletics before, gets on the football, basketball, baseball, or soccer team their senior year. Or the individual that in 11th or 12th grade decides to get involved in JrROTC, CAP, Scouts, etc. Sorry; but unless you're really doing these activities because you want to; and THAT LATE START you better be able to PROVE THAT YOU WANT IT; otherwise, your involvement will mean absolutely NOTHING to an ALO, academy, or any university. They know you're trying to pad your resume. You yourself just said you're considering it to "BUFF YOUR EXTRA CURRICULAR activities". You KNOW the right answer.

    JrROTC, CAP, Scouts, etc. are NOT THE MILITARY. Those activities don't impress the academy because you WEAR a SIMILAR UNIFORM. They impress the academy, for the same reason being in the Band, Sports, Physics Club, Volunteering at a food bank, etc. impresses the academy. It shows you put service, others, your community, etc. ahead of yourself. It shows you know how to work as a team. It shows you care about being part of something bigger than yourself. Only 13% of the academy cadets were in JrROTC. Only 10% were in CAP. YET, some people think that being in these activities will give them a leg up in the academy application process. IT WON'T. Hopefully you got into JrROTC before you ever thought of attending the academy. Hopefully you're doing it because you like it and wanted to do it.

    My previous post in this thread, I mentioned one of my applicants who was very involved in JrROTC. He was the #2 in the Detachment. He said he wanted the academy and he knew what it was about. (So he thought). As you can see in my previous post, this individual quit the academy 3-4 weeks into basic training. It wasn't what he thought it was; and obviously not for him.

    I'm not trying to discourage anyone in the forum. I'm simply trying to say: You're in your teen-age years. You're about to embark on the rest of your life; capable of doing ANYTHING YOU WANT. Make sure you're doing WHAT YOU WANT. Take the CLASSES YOU WANT. Do the ACTIVITIES YOU WANT. Apply to the SCHOOLS YOU WANT. If you don't WANT to go to college...... THEN DON'T!!!! (Yes, too many kids go off to college that shouldn't. College for many people is OVER-RATED). I know SO MANY JOBS that don't require a college degree, and they pay SO MUCH MORE than just about ANY COLLEGE Graduate will make. The point is.... You've got your whole life in front of you. Start today to do all the things you WANT TO DO. If you're sure the academy and more importantly, "THE MILITARY" is what you want to do with yourself; then that's great. Do your best and apply.

    BUT BE YOURSELF. Don't think you can tell your ALO or the academy what they WANT TO HEAR. Don't think you can PAD YOUR RESUME with INSINCERE activities. You won't be happy, and the B.S. will shine right through.

    Remember.......... Applicants are 16, 17, 18, ..... 23 years old. Your ALO and those at admissions and on the selection board, are a LOT OLDER. This is NOT their first Rodeo. You CAN NOT B.S. them. Best of luck
     
  9. MN-Dad-2016

    MN-Dad-2016 5-Year Member

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    If you were my son or daughter, I'd be telling you your #1 goal is to get your ACT score up! I highlighted ! because you need to start NOW. That means, today; Sunday 7/9/17. Clear your calendar. Work on it for 40 hours + a week throughout this summer. That means taking practice tests and figuring out what your short comings are today and start fixing and learning. You need to figure out what is tripping you up. Is it that you are running out of time? Is it because you haven't taken specific classes? Did you forget some of the material that you need to relearn?

    With a score of 22 (assume all sections equaled a 22), that means you got about 25 questions wrong on the English portion out of 75. You got 26 wrong out of 60 on the math section and 15 wrong out of 40 on the reading. In other words, you have a lot of work to do. See https://mindfish.com/act-score-chart . This chart will allow you to see how many more you need to get right before you get a 31; in other words, you need to get 14 more test questions right on the English section to get a 31. But why stop at 31? Notice how "easy" it is to get up to say, a 33? You need to learn just a few more questions right. So aim for the stars.

    Our son had to get his score up too. We put him in a summer program (Kaplan). It was expensive but he did bring up his score by six points. In 9th grade he had a 25. 27 in 10th grade. He ended up getting a 33. His biggest problem was that he was a slow test taker. So he had to guess on 25% of the test (last questions) as he ran out of time. But he also needed to polish his skills on some classes he wasn't going to take until he was a senior. The skills that he learned on the Kaplan program (how to test faster was his biggest downfall) helped him at the Academy and now in medical school. But alarms should be sounding in your head right now. If you have to cancel plans for vacations, quitting your summer job or anything else in order to improve your score, that is what you need to do.

    Also, you need to quickly see what types of questions you are getting wrong and maybe readjust your junior class schedule to make sure you take them as a junior versus waiting till you are a senior. That is another reason why you should be taking a practice test and see where you are NOW. Finally, you can buy the test question answers from ACT before you take the test (not after). Know what you got wrong is the best way to know what you have to study.

    Diversity helps in admission. Period. Diversity could means a white male with a single parent who had to work to help support his family or any other diverse reason which might have absolutely nothing to do with skin color. You could be "diverse" because you are a standout marksman or top caliber soccer player who happens to be white or black; male or female. But no, the academy isn't going to give you points for being black. Why should they?

    I hope I am not reading your words to mean that you are crossing your fingers for getting rounded up because you are black. That's a self defeating attitude. You should be thinking about how you can grab to bull by the horns and conquering getting more test questions right. Wishing and hoping is will be a failed plan. Tackling your weakness by hard work (studying and learning over-and-above school) should be your strategy. Most people won't take the time and energy to dedicate their spare time and summer vacation to do what they need to do to raise their score. So if you fall short and don't make it in, it will be your own fault. So don't wait. Start now because you have a lot of ground to make up. Report back on your progress. There is no doubt you can do it (by looking at your GPA). But you have a lot of work to do. I'm rooting for you! :)
     
  10. MN-Dad-2016

    MN-Dad-2016 5-Year Member

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    Everything you posted is correct. Of course there will be top graduates that are also stellar athletes. In society, I propose stereotypes exist for a reason. As an example, while the Academy is littered with incredible male cadets, can we agree that nearly all of the sexual scandals were perpetrated by males? That doesn't mean all males are bad. To the contrary; as in 99% are stellar cadets.

    If you look at honor violations and a stronger proportion of recruited athletes are up in front of the board, that supports a stereotype. Of course, the overwhelming majority of recruited athletes are ethical cadets in the wing. But this is how stereotypes are formed. It could be a small subset of people that creates the stereotype.

    Here is why stereotypes are terrible for society (which are developed out of statistical facts). Read http://www.aauw.org/2014/08/13/why-stereotypes-are-bad/
    "A “stereotype” is a cognitive shortcut — that is, it allows your brain to make a snap judgment based on immediately visible characteristics such as gender, race, or age. Your brain is hardwired to make quick calls, and that’s ok. The problem comes when we start to apply those stereotypes beyond that immediate impulse. That’s called “bias,” which is basically a belief that a stereotype is true."

    In real life, incorrect bias causes all kinds of harm because people are put into buckets for the wrong reasons. It sometimes causes people to be shot and killed by police because of how they look. Bias makes it so that females are sometimes passed up for positions that they deserve. That article was a very good read. :)

    Back to the athlete stereotype. Statistically speaking (and not an absolute), when someone is blessed in one category by a wide margin, they are often shorted in another. So when we picture the smartest brainiac in math, we don't think of an athlete. The opposite occurs as well. So either stereotype will have a correlation if you stare at the numbers. But educated people hopefully won't apply their bias based off of just a stereotype (a.k.a. a correlation). Of course there are brilliant athletes.

    The reason why I wrote this because if people deny that correlations exist (and the reason why stereotypes are formed) then they have no chance of educating people why their bias is harmful for society. Because weak or even strong correlations have all kinds out examples that do not support a stereotype.
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2017
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  11. Christcorp

    Christcorp 10-Year Member

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    MN-dad. Agree with you 100%. My rant about stereotypical athletes, was to differentiate between an academy athlete and a traditional college athlete. The traditional athlete gets a bad enough reputation for being a "dumb jock". To categorize the academy athlete into the same stereotype is even worse. The academy is a top-10 school in the country. It also requires its athletes to take the same core math, science, and engineering classes as all other students. In other words, there's no make believe college majors designed to get an athlete through college if they can't succeed in a real major.
     
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  12. Tigerplane77

    Tigerplane77 New Member

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    Should I try practicing for the ACT by myself or try to convincing my parents to put me in some sort of tutoring program? I'm relatively slow at taking test, so what KAPLAN program did your son use? Was it online or did you go somewhere? Im kinda freaking out. I'm trying to find the most efficient route to rasie my ACT score. I might find the SAT to be easier when I take it in August. I will go to the Library after church and start grinding.
     
  13. GoArmy22

    GoArmy22 Member

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    @Christcorp and the others have provided a plethora of reasons to simply study hard. I'm going to give you my perspective as an applicant (I applied to a different SA but it's still pertinent). I was told in mid-January that I was non-competitive and that I should try the ACT; I had 4 weeks to balance 5 AP's+Honors, 12 clubs, and studying for AP exams while ACT cramming. I was told I probably wouldn't get in if I didn't score a 32 on my first try. I took my first ACT practice test online and got a 24 in English, but I kept pushing. I went to the library during lunch, asked my teacher for help during study hall, and stayed up until 2-3 AM each night taking practice exams. I didn't get a 32, but I did get a 35 in English; it was my highest section. Now, I am happily re-studying and re-applying with absolutely no regrets because I did all that I could. I don't "regret" not studying hard enough, because I did. In fact, I like to think that things worked out with my injury and that college/ROTC will give me time to mature, grow, and heal (literally).

    IMHO, don't focus on the statistics. I can tell you right now that unless you're sitting in Admissions picking candidates yourself, you don't know who you're competing with so it's better to spend that time studying and controlling what you can. If being a fighter pilot is your dream, then make it your reality by studying! Your level of passion will keep you going, so dig deep and find it. If you're soon to be a junior, you have 2 years to study for the ACT. Whether you're practicing 2 or 200 problems a day, stay consistent and track your progress. I personally don't think you need tutoring because there's plenty of free online resources, but do what YOU think is best. Also, don't try to "buff" with EC's! It's pointless to have a club on your application that you're not even interested in because then it doesn't reflect what your true interests are. You want Admissions to look at your profile and see who YOU are.

    Best of luck to you. If you need help with any practice questions (especially English), just PM me and I'll be more than happy to help.
     
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  14. Christcorp

    Christcorp 10-Year Member

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    Tiger, goarmy laid it out perfectly. And to answer your previous question.... there are plenty of online act and sat study tests and flash card types of material. If you spent an hour a day studying the online material, and took one practice test per day, you'll improve immensely.
     
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  15. MN-Dad-2016

    MN-Dad-2016 5-Year Member

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    I bet if you look at college averages including the Academies, standout athletes probably don't have as high of an ACT or SAT. The key word here is "on average". It's why Academy athletes have a stereotype of non D1 cadets as "NARP's" and the other way around (not-as-smart jocks). Again, their are many outliers that break that mold (both directions) like walk-on D1 brainiac students that are later some of the best athletes. But yes, we agree, there are no "dumb jocks" at USAFA.
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2017
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  16. MN-Dad-2016

    MN-Dad-2016 5-Year Member

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    If you master the material and run out of time in each section, your ACT score will suffer. The prep classes teach techniques that speed the process up. They are counter intuitive to many minds and an essential part of him getting a 33. If he tested faster, he was convinced he would have gotten a 36. Of course studying for the material covered on the exam also helped him master the material. So to answer your question, it depends. "Tutoring" isn't a word I would use. They have a bank of tests with answers for not so much $$'s as well as prep books. Then they had small group classes for more $$'s that taught some of the speed techniques. Those techniques also need practice. Yet other people are automatically fast test takers. They of course won't easily grasp the value of such a program. Therefore, it depends on how you learn best as well as the thickness of your (or your parents) wallet. Some will assume courses like Kaplan are only a money making approach. But the key is to dive in NOW and work on figuring out which is the best route. Who knows, maybe you won't need any prep programs. Maybe mastering the material will give you enough time to finish. You want to figure that out sooner than later. So if I sound like a broken record, you have less time than you think.

    Realize you don't have 2 years to prep. More like a year and several months. It's good that you got the fear of God in you about needing to work hard. But for some people, working hard won't be good enough. You need a certain level of techniques under your belt 1st. But the summer (now) is the best time to work on figuring out what you need. :)
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2017
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  17. Daretodream

    Daretodream Member

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    Since you asked about the ACT I will give you the experiences of my three sons (the oldest of which is a C3C at USAFA). My oldest two started taking the ACT in the 8th grade and the youngest took it as a 7th grader. The only one interested in a SA was my oldest and he was determined to continue to take the ACT until he scored well above the median of the previous classes. He improved each time he took the test starting with a 25 in the 8th grade and finishing with a 34 as a junior. He also took the SAT once as a junior. He said the test was a little easier each time he took it due to familiarity. He went to a local ACT workshop given by his high school as a freshman but usually studied an ACT prep book we purchased when he was an 8th grader.

    My middle child is not as studious as his older brother. He just took the exam for the third time and improved his score 7 points. My youngest will take it for the second time this year. My middle child said the same thing as my oldest which was the more he takes the exam the more confident he is in his performance.

    So my advice is take the exam as many times as you can afford and study areas where you struggled and you should improve the score significantly.
     
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  18. fencersmother

    fencersmother 10-Year Member Founding Member

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    My two cadets (now ADAF pilots) aimed for a lot higher than 31. Worked their bums off, and got what they aimed for: 36.

    At UPT, the most difficult 14 months of your child's pilot education (ask PIMA!), my son missed only 3 points, out of 845 on the testing portion.

    And, golly, they were athletes, playing on DIV I teams (and intercollegiate club teams, coming in 5th at the nationals).

    Not taking kindly any longer to the insinuation that athletes are stupid. My kids worked their tails off, having 20 hr/week part time jobs, fencing every day, full highschool curriculum while taking 10-16 college credits at local 4 year U.
     
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  19. Blessedmom

    Blessedmom Member

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    Goto a SAT/ACT camp or test prep center. Regarding being a top collegiate athlete & student...it is very difficult. Son tells me it is hard for athletes to double major or major in aerospace engineering or EE with Comp engineering just because of the time spent out of the classroom. He says Econ or political science are popular majors for athletes?
     
  20. MN-Dad-2016

    MN-Dad-2016 5-Year Member

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    I never read a word from anyone that said Academy athletes are stupid. In fact, I'll predict 100% of USAFA students are athletes (to a certain level). Some cadets better athletes than others. But all are athletes and no one is "stupid". Look at the bright side; you were able to squeeze in just how brilliant and athletic your twins are. So the thread isn't a total loss.;)