On average, students spend 1,260 in the classroom a year. Prep scholar estimates that to receive an improvement of two to four points on ACT scores, it may take students up to 40 hours. A six to nine point improvement could be 150+ hours. Adding in extracurriculars, there are not enough hours in the day for students to excel at everything. That’s why bringing test preparation into the classroom is so important. Teachers have the opportunity to structure studying in a way that complements curriculum, without overshadowing it. Sharing test taking strategies and integrating practice into the classroom also offers students who may not have access to other test prep options a way to improve their score. Here are some strategies on how to integrate each test segment into the classroom.
With sixty minutes to completely sixty questions, students have to work quickly to get through the math section. The problems range from algebra, to geometry, to trigonometry. Practice makes perfect in this section — familiarity with operations and equations is key to doing well on the ACT. Luckily, ACT math usually mirrors curriculum, so just making sure students are comfortable across the board will be an effective support strategy.
Calling this a science section is a bit of a misnomer as it does not test scientific facts as much as it test scientific skills. The goal here is to be able to apply problem solving to real world issues and get an answer. Science questions on the ACT can be divided into three sections — data representation, research summary, and conflicting viewpoint. Respectively, they test student’s ability to read and understand data, interpret the design and results of experiments, and being able to compare similarities and differences in opinions. These skills can be brought into the classroom by emphasizing attention to detail. Helping students practice taking data from graphs and writing will be an invaluable help to them.
The ACT reading section is a reading comprehension test, looking at key ideas and details, craft and structure and integration of knowledge and ideas. Some students may be intimidated by this section if reading has not been their strong suit in the past. In the classroom, teachers should focus on two facets — speed and comprehension. If students cannot finish reading the passages efficiently, the overall score will suffer. It is the same with comprehension; students have to be able to extract important details in order to answer the questions. To practice this, teachers should run through passages with questions that mirror those on the ACT to help students get an idea of what the timing and content feels like.
Overall, teachers have a great opportunity to provide support to students during the high stress test taking season. Of course, building additional curriculum can be exhausting — which is why test prep companies such as Kaplan, Quesbook and Magoosh may be a good option. Using a structured and proven program, but integrating it into the classroom will give the students the hands on practice that they need with the vital support from their teachers.