ACT For Dummies, 5th Edition
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Scoring High for Higher Learning
Every year, sweaty-palmed, nervous high school students pile into designated test centers with the goal of scoring big on the ACT. They know that their chances of getting into their dream college will greatly increase with a high score. But what’s important for parents to remember is that they have a lot riding on their kid’s ACT score too, and no, it isn’t just the guarantee that they’ll be moving out of the house next August.
With the College Savings Foundation’s “State of College Savings Survey” recently revealing that 40 percent of parents aren’t confident they’ll reach their college savings goals, authors Lisa Zimmer Hatch and Scott A. Hatch remind us that ACT scores play a major role in bettering college applicants’ scholarship and financial aid opportunities.
“Naturally, colleges want to attract the absolute best possible students,” says Lisa Zimmer Hatch, coauthor along with Scott Hatch of ACT For Dummies®, 5th Edition (Wiley, 2011, ISBN: 978-1-1180-1259-8, $19.99). “And they do this by offering academic, merit and leadership scholarships. The higher your child’s ACT score, the better his or her chances at being chosen to receive one of those scholarships.
“Higher ACT scores also can land you a more favorable balance if your child is applying for financial aid,” says Scott Hatch. “In other words, they could receive more grants—money that won’t have to be paid back and therefore won’t leave your child in debt after he or she graduates—than student loans.”
Now that your palms are just as sweaty as your ACT test taker’s, what can you do to help him or her score big on the ACT? Well, ACT For Dummies is a great place to start. The easy-to-understand guide gives readers a competitive edge by fully preparing them for every section of the ACT, including the writing test. Plus, it includes three complete practice tests and sample questions along with proven test-taking strategies to improve scores.
Read on for a few additional tips, excerpted from the book, to help parents guide their kids through the ACT process.
Give him awesome test-prep materials. “If you gave ACT For Dummies or any ACT prep book to your child, you did him a huge favor,” says Lisa. “Another great way to prepare is by taking full-length practice tests. Doing so is sure to give your child an edge over other juniors and seniors who haven’t prepared.”
Encourage her to study. Help your child work out a study schedule and give her incentives to stick to it, such as picking out the family’s dinner menu for one week or allotting her a larger share of the family’s phone minutes.
Supply him with a good study environment. Make sure your student has a quiet study area where he can concentrate without being disturbed by siblings, pets, friends, TV, the computer, or his cell phone. Quality study time is time spent without distractions.
Take practice tests with her. You’ll be better able to discuss the questions and answers with your child if you take the practice tests, too. “Pretend you’re a test proctor and be the official timer for your student when she takes the full-length practice tests,” advises Scott. “After she’s done, read through the answer explanation chapters with your kid and help her discover which question types she may need to improve on. Then look up those particular topics for a refresher on the rules that govern them.”
Model good grammar for him. Help your child recognize mistakes in English usage questions by speaking properly with him and gently correcting his grammar mistakes in your conversations. Before you know it, he’ll be correcting you!
Help her memorize math formulas. The online Cheat Sheet for ACT For Dummies has a list of formulas your student needs to memorize for the test, check it out at www.dummies.com/cheatsheet/act. Quiz her to make sure she remembers them.
Encourage him to read. One of the best ways to improve reading scores is to actually read. “Go figure!” notes Lisa. “Incorporate reading into your family’s schedule and set up times to read short passages together and discuss their meanings.”
Explore colleges with her. “Your child’s ACT score becomes more important to her when she realizes what’s at stake,” says Scott. “Taking her to college fairs and campus visits can foster her enthusiasm for college and make taking the ACT more relevant.”
Get him to the test site on time. If the test site is unfamiliar to you, take a test drive before the exam date to make sure you don’t get lost or encounter unexpected roadwork on the morning of the test. That day, make sure your kid’s alarm is set properly so he rises with plenty of time to get dressed, eat a healthy breakfast, and confirm he has the items he needs to take with him to the exam.
Help her keep a proper perspective. “Remind your student that, although the ACT is important, it isn’t more important than her schoolwork or being good to her family,” notes Lisa. “Her exam score isn’t a reflection of her worth or your parenting skills. It’s just one of many tools colleges use to assess students’ skills and determine whether they’re a proper fit for their freshman classes.”
“Naturally, keep the financial worries that come with college out of your kid’s mind, especially on the test date” concludes Scott. “Once those test scores are back, then you can sit down as family to talk about what the best financial approach will be. But as you build up to the test date, stay focused on the test prep itself. When you do so, you’ll greatly increase your child’s chances of success.”