Preparing for the ACT

Art by Grace Carroll.

Grace Carroll

Art by Grace Carroll.

Grace Klebe, news editor

For a month and a half before the test, he studied for an hour every night. He attended tutoring sessions, took practice tests three Saturdays prior, worked from a book and on the internet and normalized his sleep schedule by going to bed at 10:30 p.m. and waking up at 6:30 a.m. every day. Even the weekends. When the test finally came, Eli Boshara, senior, was prepared. And it showed. He got a perfect 36 on the ACT the first time he took it.

The Class of 2018 scored 0.2 points higher on the ACT than the year previous, with an average of 24, improving in all areas except for science. The class also scored 4 points higher than the state average, which is 20, and 3 points higher than the national average of 21. According to Mike Wade, associate principal, the administration knew from the start that the class of 2018 was a smart group of kids.

“We had three kids get perfect scores, and I think that helped [the average],” Wade said. “We had 11 or 12 [students] get a 35, so our top end was really high.”

According to Wade, the first time a KHS student scored a 36 was in 2006. It didn’t happen again until 2017, and then three times in 2018. The Class of 2019 already has two students with perfect scores, Boshara and Emma Harrell.  

“The more and more students see [a perfect score] it becomes a desire,” Romona Miller, associate principal, said. “They are striving for the [higher scores].”

Wade said the increase in scores could be due to the normalization of test preparation. He believes the best preparation is to take it multiple times, and that the days of students only taking the test once are over. However, he also acknowledges that many students are opting to use different forms of test preparation, including tutors and classes.

“One thing I’ve noticed is people think a tutor can help them all, but you have to put in a lot of personal work too,” Boshara said. “A lot of people are using tutors because they can afford it and they know how important it is [to be prepared].”

KHS partners with Darr Tutoring to offer classes and tutors to students, and according to Miller and Wade, many students take advantage of these resources.

“I think a lot of [upperclassmen] are trying to juggle their academics, extracurriculars and getting ready for college,” Miller said. “They are taking the tests, doing the essays. We are seeing some signs of stress from kids who are looking for support to help get some balance in their lives right now.”

Test prep and tutoring is expensive, according to Wade. Since not everyone can afford it, he believes it is unfair that some students have access to additional resources. He also said he sees the stress getting a high score puts on students, especially those who don’t have access to as many prep tools.

“For high-achieving kids, [a perfect score] is always a goal,” Boshara said. “But I would have been just as happy with a 35. It’s not a big difference. You can get lucky and get a few more questions right.”

While both Wade and Miller say being prepared for the test and striving for a high score are beneficial, they emphasize the importance of focusing on other activities and hobbies as well.

“It is a pretty pivotal test for getting into college, you can get a lot of money and acceptance letters from it,” Boshara said. “One test can mean a lot.”

What Wade wants to tell everyone preparing for the ACT: Don’t freak out the first time you see your score. It can change. It will change. If it is a financial burden to take it again, come see your principal. We will find a way to pay for it if you can’t afford it. Take it a lot of times. More is better.

What Miller wants to tell everyone preparing for the ACT: Don’t let this totally consume you. Take it as a part of the journey, and don’t let it be something that when you look back on your high school career there was so much stress at the end that it clouds what the experience should have been.

What Boshara wants to tell everyone preparing for the ACT: Take practice tests every Saturday before the test. There is no better preparation. Normalize your sleep schedule the week before. It helps a lot because then you’re not tired or languid the day of the test. Get the official ACT book and do practice questions online. There are also free practice tests you can print out.