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Acing Your Finals

The school year is quickly coming to a close. With finals looming, here are a few simple tips to make the most of your studying:

1. Begin studying now! Your teacher may or may not tell you what will be on your final. Either way, you know your final will cover something you learned this semester. If you do not know what material will be on your final, try asking your teacher. If you get an answer - great! If you do not get an answer, try studying concepts and information you struggled with during the semester. Maybe this material will not be on your final, but, if it is, you'll be in good shape.

2. Create a study plan. Set aside a certain amount of time each day for studying so you can avoid cramming. Also, decide how you will study. Will you make flashcards? Should you make acronyms for vocab words? Essay topic ideas? Incremental, structured studying produces better grades.

3. Plan for help, if you need it. If you're struggling with a tough math class or a complicated chemistry course, you might consider finding help from a friend, teacher, or tutor. Having someone help you with studying is often a great way to prepare for tests. A tutor or friend who is skilled in a subject can quickly help you understand material that might take you several nights of studying on your own to comprehend. If you think you'll need someone to help you study, be sure to plan ahead. Tutors and teachers become very busy as finals near, so make sure you carve out time in their schedules before it's gone.

Why Are My Grades Not Reflected in My ACT Score?

I’ve heard dozens of straight A students state that they expected to score much higher on the ACT than they actually did. Why do good, proficient students often struggle with the ACT? The ACT is designed to measure how likely a student is to excel at first year college core courses. The ACT does this by measuring how well a student can take information, reason through the information, and apply their knowledge and skills to questions pertaining to the data.


On the contrary, high school tests often center around testing skills recently learned. For example, an English class reviews comma usage for a week and takes a test on this skill at the end of the week. Tests are often broken into chapters or units, so students know exactly which skills to study and become proficient in using in order to perform well on these tests. The ACT does not specify which skills are being tested by a question or problem; rather, the test-taker must determine what skills are required in order to solve a problem. So, what’s an ACT test-taker to do?

The ACT is designed for high school students, so, unless you take the ACT very early in your high school career, you have the knowledge necessary to answer the questions! The key is to learn how to decide what knowledge you must apply to each question. This ability comes through practice, preparation, and a little patience.

When Should I Take the ACT for the First Time?

We receive questions about the ACT throughout the year for a reason - it is a very important test! To put it frankly, where you can attend college and how much your college education will cost depend directly on how well you score on the ACT. To kick off this blog series, we want to answer a very common ACT question: When should I take the ACT for the first time?


Depending on your college goals, we recommend taking the ACT for the first time at the end of your sophomore year or at the beginning of your junior year. By the time you reach the end of your sophomore year, you should have taken most of the English and Math classes needed to feel comfortable with most of the content on the ACT. Please note that you should not stress over how highly you score on your first ACT. Do your best, but keep in mind that you are taking the test for the first time so you will have a starting score from which you can improve.


Once you have taken the ACT for the first time, you need to create a plan for improving your score. There are dozens of books, websites, and tutoring services that help you prepare for the ACT. Which option is best? The answer is different for each student. Many students choose to purchase an ACT prep book so they can study on their own. Other students find attending ACT prep classes or ACT tutoring are more effective at improving their ACT scores.

You may have heard a recommendation that you take the ACT every time you can, but we do not agree with this recommendation completely. You can take the ACT no more than 12 times, so you need to make each ACT count. If you are willing to prepare before each ACT, then you should take it every time you can. If you have not prepared for an ACT, you should not expect your score to improve. Set reasonable score improvement goals and try to improve your score by at least 1-2 points per test. With additional ACT prep and practice, higher score improvements are possible. Remember - practice, prep, and make every ACT count!


Preparing for College? Get College Ready!

     Start a College List

Talk to teachers and your counselor for advice on finding colleges that suit your interests and needs. Schedule campus visits to the colleges that interest you the most.

     Find 3 Careers That Interest You

Some careers require an associate degree, which you can earn at two-year colleges, while other careers require degrees that you can complete only at four-year colleges. Learn about careers that interest you and find out what type of college education you will need.

     Get the Facts About Paying for College

Most families use a combination of savings, current income, and loans to pay for college. Scholarships and financial aid are available to help students pay for college. Research the different scholarships available to you. Colleges offer a variety of scholarships based on High School academics, ACT scores, and community involvement. Money is available; you just have to look for it!

     Keep a Calendar

Use a calendar to record and track important school events, college fairs, and deadlines. Pay special attention to admission and scholarship deadlines.

     Qualify for Scholarships by Taking the ACT

Take a practice ACT test to gauge where you are academically and then set goals to help you get to where you need to be. Take practice tests, and seek out test prep for the ACT. A higher ACT score could mean thousands of dollars in scholarships.

     Make Your Time in School Count

Colleges look for well-rounded individuals who have proven to be committed and involved students. Look for opportunities to volunteer and get involved. Focus not only on academics, but become an active member of your community. 


Is One ACT Harder Than Another?

You may have heard that the difficulty of the ACT varies based on when and where you test. I have heard of students driving well out of their way in order to take the test at what they believe to be an easier testing site. Many students also believe that certain testing dates are easier than others. Does the difficulty of the ACT really depend on where you test and when you take it? Well, the answer is not as simple as just a “yes” or “no”.


Read more: Is One ACT Harder Than Another?

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