ACT Test Prep - Beaverton School District

ACT Test Prep
Fast & Furious
Competing with the Nation or
Why worry about test prep
• 1. ACT is marked on a curve
• 2. The ACT is very predictable
• ACT is highly vulnerable to test strategies and
• Think strategically and creatively.
Understanding Test Scores
• Nearly half of all test takers score within the
17 – 23 range on a scale of 1 – 36.
• A score of 17 is at the 28%
• A score of 20 is at the 54%
• A score of 23 is at the 76%
• A score of 26 is at the 90%
• A score of 31 is at the 99%
Should you guess on the ACT
• The score is based on the number of correct
answers only.
• There is no penalty for incorrect or blank
The Subject Tests
• English
• Math
• For all of these test be sure you have read &
understand the directions prior to taking the
• The test 45 minutes long with 75 questions. In the
English test you have to get almost 2/3rds of the test
correct just to get an average score of about 20.
• Never spend more than 45 seconds on an English
question, the average is 30 seconds.
• In English trust your ears. The correct answer is
usually the one that “sounds right.”
The test is 60 minutes long and has 60 questions
All math questions are multiple choice, 5 choices.
Easier questions tend to come first.
Questions covering math learned in high school may feel
easier as the material is fresher in your mind.
About 1/3 of the questions either use a diagram or describe a
situation that should be diagramed.
1/3 of the questions are story problems.
1/3 of the questions ask you to demonstrate your knowledge
of specific math concepts.
The reading test is 35 minutes long and has 40 questions. There
are 4 passages with 10 questions each. Again about 30
seconds per question.
There are 3 kinds of questions:
a. specific detail questions
b. Inference questions
c. Big picture questions
• There are 35 questions and 40 questions, again about 30
second each.
• 1/3 of the questions ask you to analyze data from graphs or
• Other questions require that you understand how
experiments are designed and what they prove.
• The rest of the questions will ask you to apply a principle
logically or identify ways to defend or attack one.
• The writing test is 30 minutes long and has
you write one essay.
• You area asked to take a position on an issue
and support if with evidence using a
persuasive essay.
• Now that I have given you a brief overview of
the different test components it is time for
some overall strategies.
• 1. Perform Question Triage: Make a quick
analysis on how hard and time consuming a
question may be.
– If the question feels easy do it right away and
move on
– If it appears tough and time consuming skip and
come back.
– If it looks impossible guess and move on.
Go back to the skipped questions; 2 times through.
• 2. Put the material into a form that you can
– Reword questions to help you figure out what
they are asking
– Draw diagrams to help you visualize it.
3. Ignore irrelevant issues
4. Check back: on the reading and science tests
always refer back to the place in the passage
where the question can be found.
5. Answer the right question: the correct answer
to a different question may be hidden in the
wrong answers to another question.
• 6. Look for the hidden answer. Many
questions will have more than 1 possible
solution but only one correct answer will be
given. It is usually the less obvious.
• 7.Guess intelligently
• 8. Be careful with the answer grid.
• 9.Keep track of the time.
So you thought we were finished?
• This is just the beginning.
• Now we will share some specific strategies for each
• We have a printed hand out so that you can take this
information home and spend additional time letting
it sink in.
• Stay with us and remember most students
throughout the country are taking the time to
prepare to insure they get the highest score possible.
Specific Strategies for the English Test
• 1. Ask yourself,” does this stuff belong here?”
– Does the underlined section belong? Is it written
concisely? If n,o then choose the answer that gets rid of it.
• 2. Ask: “does this stuff make sense?”
– If not choose the answer that turns the writing into good
• 3. Ask: ”Does this sound like English?”
– Many grammar errors will sound wrong. Study ahead of time the 12
basic grammar errors (coming soon)
• 4. Skim each paragraph, answer the questions
that pertain to it, then read on.
• 5. The long answer is not always better, when
in doubt, take it out.
• 6. The rules of economy
– Redundancy: The text in a sentence should never repeat
– Verbosity: Write concisely as long as it has correct
– Irrelevance: Omit complete ideas that are not directly
related to the purpose of the passage.
7. Look at the entire passage and make sure that
your answer goes along with the logical direction
it is taking.
Completeness: at least one entire thought per sentence
Tone: the tone of the text should be consistent.
Sentence Structure: avoid fragments and run on sentences
Modifiers: should be as close as possible to the things they
Idiom: make sure words in the sentence are used in the
correct manner
Pronouns: make sure it is explicit to whom or what it refers.
Logic: is it logical when you read it?
Verbs: be sure that the verbs match their subject & tense.
12 Classic Grammar Errors
(Be Sure That you Understand the Rules For These)
1. It and They ( singulars & plurals)
2. Commas or Dashes
3. Run-ons and Comma Splits
5.Misunderstood punctuation marks
6. –ly Endings (adverbs & adjectives)
7. Its & It’s ( use of apostrophe)
8. There, Their, They’re and Are, Our
9. Sang, Sung, Brang, Brung ( verb forms)
10.-er and –est, More & Most
11Confusing between and Among
12Confusing Less and Fewer
• Break out of questions: 24 pre-algebra and
elementary algebra, 10 intermediate algebra,
9 coordinate geometry, 14 plane geometry,
and 4 trigonometry questions YOU CAN DO
• Understand, analyze and select
• Stuck?: use estimates and guesstimates, don’t
forget to use your eyes on diagrams
• Important Technicalities
– Integers include 0 and negative whole numbers
– Evens & odds include 0 and negative whole
– Prime numbers do not include 1
– Remainders are integers
– Know the symbol that represents the positive
square root
– Rectangles include squares
Make a ball park estimate
When in doubt look at diagrams
Worry about the right answers, not the right
way to solve the problem
Make sure you know what the problem is asking
Never spend more than a minute on a question
the first time through, you can always return
on the second pass.
Algebra, Coordinate Geometry,
Percents & Averages
• 1. restate the problem: ( how would handle an
easy problem that tests the same principle?)
• 2.Remove the disguise: a complex problem is
often just an easier problem in disguise.
• 3.Pick numbers: make abstract numbers more
concrete by substituting numbers for the
variables in the question.
• Back solve: when using this strategy start with
the middle choice. ( C or H)
Story Problems
• Percent problems: Part = percent x Whole
• Percent increase & decrease problems:
– To increase a number by a certain percent,
calculate the percent of the original number & add
it on.
– To decrease a number by a certain percent,
calculate the percent of the original number &
– Don’t just add and subtract percents. Pick 100 as
the original number & work form there.
Story Problems con.
• 3. Weighted Average Problems:
– To get a combined average, it’s usually wrong just
to average the averages
– As with regular average problems, the key is to
use the sum.
4. Probability Problems: The probability of what will
happen is not affected by what has happened
Geometry Strategies
1.Know the textbook geometry equations:
Area of square or other rectangle A= l x w
Area of a circle
Area of a trapezoid
Pythagorean theorem
Area of a triangle A= ½ bh2
2. If you Get stuck look for hidden information
3.Pencil in additions to the given diagrams
4.Figureless Problems: draw your own diagrams
5.Multi-step problems: break down into smaller
• Always refer to the passage before answering a question
• When given a specific line reference read a few additional
sentences before and after it.
• Read between the lines.
• Make inferences by combining baits of information from
different parts of the passage. Look for words like: suggest,
infer, inference, or imply in the question stem.
• Don’t make your inference too extreme.
• Focus on the main point or purpose of the passage, author’s
attitude or tone, logic underlying the argument, how ideas
relate to each other and the difference between fact and
Science Strategies
1.Pre read the passage: a first time skim through
2.Make sure you understand exactly what the
question is asking
3.Always look back at the passage and the question
stem before choosing your answer (be clear of the
units and/or words like not and except
4. What to do if you are running out of time: Don’t
reread the passage. Glance over the questions
without reading the passage and do as many data
interpretation questions as possible.
– Determine what is being represented
– Determine what the axes (or columns and rows)
– Take note of units of measurement
– Look for trends in the data. When first looking at
the graph or table look for the patterns
3 Characteristic Patterns in
Graphs & Tables
• 1.Extremes (maximums and minimums): the highest
and lowest points that indicators reach
• 2.Critical Points: points of change, values at which
something dramatic happens
• 3.Variation(proportionality): the way that two
different things change in relation to each other
– Direct Variations: 2 things vary in the same way
– Inverse Variation: 2 things vary in opposite ways
The Scientific Experiments
• 2 Different kinds of Logic
– General to Specific Thinking: scientists use a general rule to
find a specific fact.
– Specific to General thinking: Scientists look at something
specific to hypothesis a general rule. (most ACT questions
are specific to general)
3.You can tell what a researcher is trying to find out
by identifying what is allowed to vary.
4. When looking at an experiment ask:
What is the factor being varied?
What’s the control group?
What do the results show?
Conflicting Viewpoint Passages
• -Don’t worry about figuring which scientist is
correct, just understand the different
viewpoints. Identify the conflict
• Don’t mix up the scientist and their viewpoint.
• Focus on the questions and the countering
• Always carefully note the data of each
The Writing Test How It Is Scored
• Graded on a holistic scale of 1 – 6
• Specific Skills Tested
– Stating a clear perspective on an issue, answering
the question in the prompt
– Providing Supporting Evidence and logical
– Maintaining focus and organizing your ideas
– Writing clearly
• 1. Be sure you are focusing on the prompt:
choose our position & support your opinion
with examples
• 2. Take about 5 minutes to plan before you
– Subject matter: avoid emotional or offensive examples
– You are looking for workable examples and arguments
– use past readings, personal experience, and remembered
historical data
– Structure your essay: A clear introduction with a hook, a
body with transitions, and a conclusion that ends with a
• 3. Appearances count: Write 3 -5 paragraphs, WRITE
• 4.Stick with the plan: don’t introduce new ideas in
the middle of the writing
• 5. Write carefully: low scores can result from
misspellings & grammatical errors
• 6. Make your writing direct a & persuasive.
• 7.Transitions: Make sure that your ideas follow each
other logically.
• 8.Aim for 350 – 450 words
• 9. Leave time to PROOF READ
• Organization and clarity are key to a above
average score
• Use words from the prompt to tie paragraphs
• Vary your sentence structure, sometimes
using simple sentences and other times using
compound and complex ones
• Adding a few college level vocabulary words
will boost your score.
• Save our best example for last & stress its
relative importance
Why is All of This Important ?
• According to the Princeton review:
• The national average score of for ACT is 20
and 21. If you are close to these scores you
will likely be accepted into a considerable
number of college and universities( as long as
you have decent grades) but may not be
selected at more selective schools.
• A good ACT score can also help you snag
additional scholarship money.
Sample Scholarship Money Based
on ACT Scores
• At Whitworth University in Washington :
A 3.75 plus ACT score of 30 = $19,000 a year
A 3.75 plus ACT score of 28 = $17,000 a year
A 3.6 plus ACT score of 27=- $13,000 a year
A 3.5 plus ACT score of 25 + $11,000 a year
• Reread and study these strategies to increase
your ACT score
• TAKE A PRACTICE TEST see what your score is
without pre test study. Study, than take
another one.
Remember the goal it is not just taking the test
but getting the best score that you are capable
of earning.