Improving Your ACT College Entrance Exam Score for More Scholarships: 8 Steps
Let’s talk about the ACT college entrance exam for a minute.
I read a great article by Rob Franek at the Washington Times called Paying for College in a Recession. He has several great thoughts, and you should look it up.
One idea in his article struck a loud chord in my own experience. He says your grades and test scores matter more than ever. Specifically, your score on the Scholastic Aptitude Test, (the SAT reasoning test) or the American College Test, now just the ACT college entrance exam. If you want to avoid getting a student loan by winning more scholarships, this can help you.
I made some mistakes when I took these tests. Later, I corrected the mistakes when I took other tests. Below, I’ll share how I raised my scores and how you can. too.
How to Get a Higher Score
I should patent this system. It really works if you put in the effort. ;o)
1. Prepare for The Test
Spend serious time studying on your own for the act college entrance exam and, if possible, take a prep course. I know, it’s hard, but it really pays off for high scores. I did this when I prepared to take the GMAT. I spent hours studying and practicing to take the actual test.
2. Take The Test Early
And I don’t mean for real, I mean a formal practice test, timed and graded. Princeton Review, per Mr. Franek, offers these practice tests nationwide for both ACT and SAT.
By early, I mean at the beginning of your junior year should be early enough, but you can take it at the end of your sophomore year or the summer between. Sooner than this won’t help much. Read the rest below and you’ll see why.
3. Evaluate Your Situation
After you take the test for the first time, evaluate. Look at your score, and if you can, have a few trusted teachers and counselors look at your score.
How much can you expect to improve? What did you do wrong? Did you spend all of your time on 1 problem? Did you constantly change answers?
Taking the practice test will really help you here, If you did something wrong, no worries. That’s why you take a practice version of the ACT college entrance exam or the SAT version, so you can find the problem and correct them.
You haven’t lost anything; you have learned what you need to change.
4. Work on The Weak Areas, Polish Your Strengths
After you understand your scores, spend more time preparing. You have a chance now to improve a specific area. If you have a really low score in some area, figure out why. Do some studying and preparation to improve.
If possible, get help.
Make sure that you give some time to your strengths. Don’t neglect vocab or math because the other is not doing as well. Use your strength to bring up your overall score. And a higher score will help you qualify for more awards.
Also, by increasing your math score, you may eliminate a lower level math class in college.
5. Retake the Practice Test
I found this step critical. When I prepared to take the GMAT, I took simulated tests. These were free through a website and a prep book I bought. I could take a test and see how I did ahead of time.
Taking the ACT college entrance exam is the same. After you work on some weak areas and polish, you should retake the practice to see how you did in improving.
6. Repeat 4 and 5
If you don’t have the score you want, but you think you can get to that score, repeat what you just did. Work on weak spots, polish strengths, and take another practice.
You can see now why some practices won’t be the paid kind. Having a CD or website with a bunch of free tests can really help your preparation when used right. Taking the SAT or ACT college entrance exams works like other things you have done. Test taking is a skill, and you can improve your skill.
7. Take the Real ACT or SAT exam
Once you have a score you like, or if your time has run out , take the real test. Don’t be surprised if you both relax and do better during the real test.
When I took the GMAT, I prepared as I laid it out above. I studied, I tested, I worked on weak spots and polished, and I tested again. In my case, I set a goal to get a certain score. My practice tests showed my score 29 points above my goal. I was thrilled.
When I took the real test, there was a new type of question I didn’t expect. My score on the real test was 20 points lower than my practice test, but still above my goal. Again, I was thrilled. And I got a nice scholarship.
8. Take The Real ACT College Entrance Exam Again
Okay, let's say you get a lousy score for whatever reason. You were up late. You have a cold. You just broke up. Whatever. Or even if you just think you can do better, this is what you need to do:
Retake the test after more study!
If you were a junior, perhaps you retake it when you are a senior, for example. Or just after studying and practicing more.
My Mistakes as a Senior
And now I’ll tell you my story. I took the SAT and the ACT college entrance exams as a junior. My scores were fair. My ACT score was 27 or 28, not bad for a junior. But not good enough for an undergrad scholarship!
If I had raised my score to 29 or 30, I would have been eligible for some scholarships. A 32 would have been worth thousands of dollars. 36 is the maximum, perfect score. And I didn’t retake the tests.
Don’t make my mistake. I took one test each. I did only minimal preparation. I didn’t take a practice test, and I didn’t work on my skills to see if I could improve.
My scores showed I could have done much better, had I followed the steps above. I had finished another year of school, and learned much more.
By the way, for a great rundown of ways to improve your score and prepare for the test from another viewpoint, hop over to Lance Millis' CollegePrep101.com
Lance has great advice on many subjects.
Back to my story.
Later, when I took the GMAT and a couple of other professional exams, I understood and I prepared much more thoroughly. If you follow a system like the one laid out above, you can do better that your first score as well.
And a higher score means more money for college.
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