Tip #1 –
Plan to take the April ACT during junior year, and plan to make this at least your student’s second or third test. Why? The April test appears to be a favorable test based on my student history because
• most students are in a groove during time in their junior year,
• the April test historically is somewhat “easier” than the other two released tests in December and June, and
• most students have experienced at least one test, kicking the anxiety to the curb and allowing a student to focus in on the sections most needed for score improvement
Tip #2 –
Plan to include several mock tests in the journey. Baseline testing helps the tutor focus on the most important material that will create the greatest score improvement opportunities. Mock testing during the journey will help monitor progress and continue to refine the areas of focus for practice and tutoring.
Here are a few highlighted case studies from recent years that show why I recommend planning for an April test –
Brian – We started during the summer before junior year with mock ACT and SAT tests to choose the test that was more likely to be the best fit and bring the highest scores for Brian. We began some light tutoring over the late summer/early fall. Sports were too intense for an early test in October or December. Brian took two more mock tests in early January and early February, tutoring more consistently during this time. His February mock test showed an improvement from a 22 baseline Composite to a 26. On the real February ACT, his first test, Brian scored a 27 Composite. Continuing with a little more tutoring and one more full mock test, Brian scored a 28 Composite in April, bringing his English and Math scores even higher. A seasoned athlete across several sports, Brian had accomplished his goal scores with a 6-point Composite improvement.
Nick – We started working during the summer before junior year, already focused on the ACT because of sibling history. The plan was to hopefully finish testing before tennis season in the spring. Even though that didn’t happen, Nick pulled everything together for the April test, improving his Composite 5 points to a 30 score. He took advantage of several mock tests with reviews between tutoring sessions and the real tests. The April ACT was the Clincher!
JO – We started working during the summer before junior year as well, and with extended time, we chose the ACT. JO had amazing strengths on the verbal side of the test, primarily needing help on the STEM side to improve her scores. Extended time testing requires practice to learn time-management skills. The ACT does not blow a whistle at the end of each section; each student is responsible for managing his time over six hours! JO worked hard to learn the STEM skills, content and strategies. She took her first test in December, achieving a 33 Composite (99th percentile), an improvement of 4 points. Wanting to improve the Math even more and hoping to get close to a perfect score in English, JO took the test a final time in April. Although she was one point shy of a 34 Super-score, she accomplished both goals in her sectional scores, and she received a perfect 12 essay score. I rarely even see 11 scores, so this essay score is very impressive!
I had other students who took just one test, and that test was the April ACT. For example, one of my students came to me with a baseline score of 35 (from an ACT that was 10 years old). Meeting just a few times, she confidently scored a 35 on her first and only real ACT test in April.
These April highlights are common from my experience. I see them year after year. If you have a rising junior, plan for the April 2023 ACT if your student chooses the ACT path!