Home News The ACT – How to Prepare and How Parents Can Help

The ACT – How to Prepare and How Parents Can Help


By Morgan Johnson | Student Writer

The ACT is a standardized test administered all across the United States and Canada. It evaluates high school students’ knowledge of English, math, reading, and science. The test also includes an optional writing section. Scores are sent to prospective colleges and universities. They are used for admissions and scholarships. The higher your score, the higher the chance you have of being admitted into the college of your choice and receiving scholarships.

In Utah, the average composite score is a 20.2 out of 36. The average score of college and university students, however, is quite a bit higher. At Brigham Young University and the University of Utah, students have the highest average ACT scores in the state with 29 and 25 respectively. At most other Utah colleges, such as Utah State University, Utah Valley University, Southern Utah University, and Westminster College, students have an average ACT score of 24.

How do you move away from the state average and toward the college range? This may seem to be a daunting task. Luckily, there are many resources available to help boost your scores.

One of the most readily available options would be online study sites such as Shmoop.com, Khan Academy, and Act.org. Shmoop is available for free to all Utah high school students. Just go to https://schools.shmoop.com/utah/  , find your school, and set up a student account. This site gives you access to all kinds of test prep material such as drills, reviews, practice problems and tests, strategies, etc., for all five test sections. Khan academy has tutorials and practice for English, math, and science.  Act.org is also a good resource as it has prep that was made by the same organization that writes the actual test.

Another good way to prepare for the ACT is through test prep books, such as The Princeton Review’s, Cracking the ACT. This book is extremely helpful as it teaches not only concepts but strategies as well. It also contains practice problems and drills for every section. For each question there are explanations for why every answer choice is right or wrong. This book also contains six full length practice tests.

Practice tests are especially beneficial because they give you a sense of the format and the timing. They also help you practice sitting still and focusing for such a long amount of time–the test takes approximately three hours. By doing practice tests, you can also begin to pick out patterns in the types of questions that you are continuously missing and know what to focus on when you study.

ACT prep classes are also available. These are nice because you have a real-life teacher who has experience with the test and knows how it works. You are able to ask questions and get answers. These classes often have insider information that would be difficult to get anywhere else. There are two main options for prep classes in Morgan county, one being the ACE the ACT Bootcamp that periodically comes to Morgan. This bootcamp is normally held for three days, four hours each day. In this class you start out by taking a practice ACT test, and then going over each section in depth. The other ACT prep class is held by teachers at the high school for the entire month before the February test. This testing date is mandatory for all juniors, so the class is very beneficial to the students who take it. It is held in the morning before school and covers every subject. Students who will be juniors next year should plan to attend.

Parents can also help their children prepare for the ACT in many ways. One big way is moral support. Whether it’s talking to them about the test and its importance, or listening to what they succeed or struggle in, you can be a huge support to them. Another way is by promoting their physical health. The amount of sleep, water, exercise, and healthy food they get in the days and weeks before the test are extremely important. The healthier their bodies are, the healthier their brains will be as well.

If you or your child is planning to go to college, getting a good ACT score is of the utmost importance. Depending on your score, you could end up saving thousands of dollars on your college degree. By practicing and taking advantage of your resources, it is possible to significantly raise your score. All you have to do is put your mind to it and be willing to work for the score you desire. 

While registration for the April test has now passed, registration is now open for the June 9 and other future test dates. Visit act.org for more information and to register.

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