With college acceptance letters arriving soon for seniors, area students are feeling the pressure to secure their spot at the college of their choice. Area high schools are providing opportunities for students to maximize their ACT score, which in turn will increase the amount of eligible scholarship money.
The ACT is a standardized test used by many colleges and universities as a method to indicate if a student is ready for college. A perfect score is a 36. Last year, the national average for the test was 21.0 and the average for Kentucky was 20.0. The test costs $50.50 for the test without writing, and the test with writing is $67. High school juniors and seniors are eligible for fee waivers if they meet certain indicators of economic need; students need to see their respective guidance counselors for the waivers.
Several schools in the area recognize more preparation is needed for this high-stakes test and have implemented plans to help students and families.
Monica Rice, College and Career Readiness coach at Owensboro High School, said that students have several options when it comes to ACT prep.
“Student may use ACT Academy, which is free online with their online ACT account or students can pay for Torchprep on their own,” Rice said.
At OHS, students have access to paid tutors for individual help, scheduled through the media center. Rice stated the entire school is using MasteryPrep this year.
“This program offers practice aligned with the curriculum, materials for prep bootcamp and warm-up exercises that students can utilize for quick practice,” Rice said.
Daviess County High School offers content-specific reviews before and after school leading up to each of the national exam dates. The teachers that lead the reviews are familiar with the exam and coach students to capitalize on the predictability of the exam by teaching them strategies for each section of the test. The high school has also conducted a two-week rotation that provided each junior with an intensive workshop detailed to his or her ability level in the days leading up to the state-mandated test.
In order to help their students and families, Owensboro Catholic provides multiple opportunities for students to experience test questions in their math, science and English classes.
“Our entire curriculum is centered around ACT standards and this, I think, is the driving force behind our scores,” Assistant Principal Kurt Osborne said.
Catholic has recently added ACT Academy to all students and parents as a way to prepare for the high-stakes test.
At Apollo High School, teachers are encouraged to integrate ACT questions into their daily lessons. Students are also encouraged to use online resources and check out prep books in the media center.
“We also give students a practice test in the fall, grade it, then work with them through their homeroom classes on the areas where they may need additional support,” said Apollo guidance counselor Keith Johnson.
Much of the students’ preparation occurs during the school day throughout the area high schools, but preparation outside of school isn’t a bad thing. he more parents understand the components of the exam and how to help their kids, the better.
“Encouraging your student to read during the summer and outside of school is a dependable strategy,” said Allie Head, English teacher at Daviess County High School. “Kids who read complex texts have an easier time on the test and are more prepared.”
Parents who encourage their kids to read, take practice tests and use testing strategies will ultimately help their kids score better on the ACT. Brian Winkler, senior at Daviess County High School, can attest to this.
“I read during the summer, even though it was just for 30 minutes a day,” Winkler said. “I also took practice tests my dad and I printed out from the ACT website. The practice tests allowed me to see why I missed certain questions, test out different strategies and learn how to pace myself during the exam.”