After having tutoring ACT prep for almost 20 years, every semester I'm asked "what calculator should I have for the ACT?" So I wanted to take a bit to go through what calculators are and are not allowed on the test, and my recommendations.
The most important thing is the best calculator for the ACT is the calculator YOU ARE FAMILIAR WITH! Use the calculator you have been practicing with, and make sure that you ARE practicing with the calculator you plan on using for the ACT! It's better to use one you are familiar with that doesn't have as much functionality than one that can do everything but you don't know how to use.
ACT's official Calculator Policy can be found here. Prohibited calculators include:
I received a question asking if community service hours have to be done with an official nonprofit, or it can count if you are helping an individual or unofficial organization.
It's a great question, and the answer is a little nuanced.
First off, what kind of school are you applying to? Do they have a holistic application process? If not, then you should have no problems at all. Highly competitive, holistically-evaluating colleges are more likely to care about the specific organization that you volunteer for. However, even in those cases, they are likely still willing to accept and count the service hours for a group that isn't a nonprofit, as long as a name for the group is provided (and possibly contact information).
A lot boils down to how you present the information. It helps a lot if you can provide a letter of recommendation from the individual or group you helped. You can also discuss and explain your volunteer efforts in your essay (depending upon the prompt).
CLEP. Seems like just about everyone is taking advantage of this credit-by-examination tool. But
Got a great question from a parent:
If a student takes a CLEP exam and does not make a high enough score, will it negatively impact their college transcript? Do you still need to turn that test score in to the college?
It's important that you have all the details when it comes to utilizing any college prep tool, and the last thing we want is to do is negatively impact their chances of getting into their desired school/program.
Here are a few things to know:
ACT Prep Strategy:
I'm pretty sure you haven't heard fhis academic strategy before:
Okay, there's a catch. Give up, strategically.
That's actually one of the tips that I've had for my ACT prep students for years, and I've had dozens of students come back to me and tell me that it really works!
Let me explain...
For most students, your target score on the ACT is not a 36, so your version of an "A" does not require tackling all of the questions! Instead, it's best to be strategic and selectively "give up" on certain questions/passages, so that you can bank the time to focus instead on the areas where you are stronger or just give you time to just slow down and have a better chance of getting things right.
This is especially true on the ACT math, which typically is increasing in difficulty as you go through the test. Of the 60 questions, questions around 41-50 are typically more difficult than the first 40 questions, and the last ten questions have some of the hardest...
So how did I get here?
Well to start, this is not what I though I would be doing when I was in high school or college, though I still daily use the skills I acquired along the way.
I was homeschooled all the way through my high-school graduation, and was blessed to have an insider-track on college prep with a dad who was a college professor. This led to several steps that ultimately resulted in me getting paid to go to college:
1. I had a solid academic foundation
2. I had a clear picture of what career path I wanted to pursue
3. I knew the scholarship requirements early-on and set them as goals for myself in my test-prep
4. I was careful to meet the deadlines and make the right connections along the application process, and chose to go to an affordable school (even though I could have gotten into a higher-ranked college)
5. I didn't stop searching for scholarships once I got to college, but kept pursuing funding each semester
My second year of college I started tutoring...
At the time of posting it's June, and just a few weeks away from the July ACT exam date. Is your teen ready for the test?
Even though more schools have become test-optional, that still primarily just applies to admissions. There is a LOT is riding on the ACT or SAT when it comes to scholarships, so you want your teen to be prepared! So to get ready for the July exam I wanted to pull together some resources to help you make sure you can make the most of this test. You can also grab my FREE 10-page ACT Prep Guide here, or check out my online ACT Prep Course here.
Does the ACT or SAT Make More Sense for Your Teen?
When it comes to standardized exams, you have options! Should your teen take the ACT or SAT (the two most widely accepted tests)? You may have already decided on an exam, but if you haven't (or if your teen has struggled with the exam they've been working on so far) then you should check out our video and blog article that...
A lot is riding on the ACT, especially for homeschoolers where the test can often receive more weight than your GPA. Yet for students with special needs, there is an additional challenge of getting accommodations for the ACT without the assistance of a traditional guidance counselor. Here are the steps you need to go through:
You will need a valid, current Individualized Education Program (IEP) or Section 504 Plan (504 Plan), or documentation that specifies a "professionally diagnosed physical or mental impairment that substanially limits one or more major life activities" and "requests allowable accomodations that are appropriate and reasonable for the documented disability" (from ACT guidelines, see here for full text).
If you do NOT have an IEP or 504 you will need to submit the ACT Exceptions Statement Form.
Accommodations are also typically provided if a student has past IEP or Section 504 Plan, even if expired, especially if the...
The next SAT exam is right around the corner.
Your goal is to set yourself up for success. Here are some recommendations:
WEEK BEFORE TEST
In my online course I recommend that students not take any full-length tests the week of the exam. You don't want to mess with your mental readiness by getting a score that's lower than your target, so focus any prep work on just small sections. You can grade to see how many you got right/wrong, but don't convert to a 1600-point scale.
This is also a good time for you to review your prep notes, make flash cards, and update your strategies for each section.
If you have not been to the testing center before, drive by so you know the location and identify where you will park and where you will walk to so that you are taking away as many unknowns as possible. You want the test day to run as smoothly as possible so you can bring your best game, and surprises about testing center location, how far you have to walk, etc can throw...
Okay, so I know this may sound straightforward, but I frequently have students ask about how to register for the ACT®.
In some cases the ACT® is offered through your school (if you attend a public or private school). In these cases the ACT® date does not correlate with the typical 7 days a year the ACT is offered, and registration is usually completed by your guidance counselor.
If you are homeschooled or planning on taking a regularly scheduled ACT®, here is what you should do:
First off, you should ask the question should I register for this upcoming ACT® test date? I talk about choosing dates for the ACT here, so if you are unsure check out that post! You want to give some evaluation to whether you have time to adequately prepare for this test. I recommend 4+ weeks of active prep before each exam, preferably 8-16 weeks for your first test (check out my FREE 10-page ACT prep guide here or my online ACT prep course here).
Once you have decided that you...
All four of these elements MUST be in place for you to be successful! You could even consider these to all relate like a math equation:
CONTENT x STRATEGY (PRACTICE + REVIEW) = SUCCESS
C S ( P + R ) = SUCCESS
For you to hit the target score you need for admission to your top choice schools AND to open doors for scholarships that make college affordable you need a plan for each of these four factors, so that’s what we’ll tackle in this post!
We know that college prep can be overwhelming. That's why we work hard to simplify and streamline the advice on how to guide your teen to success. Sign up below to join our newsletter (we hate spam, and never sell or rent out your info).