Navigating the ACT can be confusing - Perhaps this will help!

When should my student take the ACT exam?

The best time to take the ACT is after or close to the end of Algebra II. At this point students have seen all of the math content that is tested on the ACT, and waiting can make it difficult for students to recall necessary formulas and processes. 

Why is a higher ACT score important?

Not only does a higher ACT score provide students with more options for college, but often a point or two can make tens-of-thousands of dollars difference in terms of academic or merit  scholarships. 

For example, I recently tutored a young man who needed one more point to earn a $26,000 per year scholarship - he scored three points higher and saved over $100,000 of college tuition as a result.  EHS - 2016 Grad

Is it necessary to do tutoring or a prep course before the exam?

While it is certainly not required, it is highly recommended that your student do some preparation that is specifically designed for the ACT. School grades and performance is not a direct  indicator of expected ACT score since what it takes to do succeed at each is very different. It is essential to learn ACT specific test taking strategies and create a timing plan to take control of this important test and do as well as possible. Any tutoring you choose should include both content and strategies and should be specific to the ACT exam. 

Considering that tens of thousands of dollars can be saved by scoring a few points higher, the money spent on QUALITY ACT prep is well worth the investment.

Should my student take the ACT more than once?

Statistics show that student scores typically improve when retaking the exam. While some of the improvement can be attributed to familiarity with the testing process, the best way to maximize improvement is with quality preparation and practice before retaking the exam. Time alone will not generate a higher score. It is  a good idea to take the exam once to see how it goes without a lot of pressure on the outcome and without sending the scores to any colleges. Use the results of that initial test to formulate a customized preparation plan for upcoming test dates.

What should I consider when choosing a test date?

When choosing the best test date for your student, there are several factors to consider. 

September is an excellent time for seniors in regular math and juniors in honors math to take the exam, especially if they complete a prep course over the summer while things are a little less chaotic. 

October is still early enough for seniors to take the exam and receive scores prior to application deadlines.

**December is an EXCELLENT time for juniors to take the exam just for the experience and to establish a baseline score upon which to create a customized study plan.  

February tends to be a quiet time of the academic year and can prove to be a good time to take the exam with minimal conflicts - again a good test date for a "trial run" for students in Algebra II/Honors Algebra II. 

**April now offers two options. One  is the national test date, and the second is the free test administered at school. This a very popular exam date, and an excellent time for current Algebra II and Honors Algebra II students to take the exam for their "best score". Some years this date falls over spring break, so check the school schedule!  

(Note - TIR is only available for the national test date, NOT the school test)

**June means students will have seen all of the math in class.  However, this can be a challenging time to take the exam because it is immediately after final exams and right after school ends. Students may battle motivational issues as well as time management issues when trying to prepare for the ACT while completing the school year and preparing for final exams. Not to mention - it can be tricky to get them out of bed on their first day of summer!

July - Coming 2018 - This is going to be a terrific time to take the exam since students can prepare without juggling school activities and homework!

** These test dates offer TIR (Test Information Release): Test Information release means students will not only receive their scores, but a full length copy of the exam, their answers and the correct answers. This is  valuable information when designing a customized plan for test preparation.

Should my student take the "optional" writing exam?

YES! YES! YES!  While the writing portion of the exam is technically "optional", it should be taken every time the ACT is taken.  Scores get reported by date and cannot be separated. So, it is possible that  a  lower composite score would need to be reported to colleges requiring the writing test if  the writing test was not taken on the day that a higher composite score was achieved. 

How/when should I register my student for the ACT exam?

Although it is possible to register by mail (packets available at your high school counseling office) and by phone (an additional charge will apply), it is easiest to register for the exam online at The earlier you register, the more likely you are to receive your preferred test site.  Pay attention to late registration deadlines to avoid paying an additional registration fee for the same exam. 

Want to get started on your ACT journey?

Send me and email or call me 651-428-4330