With the school season in full swing and winter quickly approaching, standardized testing is about to begin. Are you a student on hunt for colleges? Have you been touring college after college trying to prepare for the next step in your academic career? Have you taken the ACT standardized test and want to improve your test scores? If you are one of the students who wants to increase your scores on your next ACT test, then TPS’s ACT Preparation course is a perfect fit for you!
Taught by Mrs. Harris, an English teacher and Mrs. Habacivch, a math and science teacher, the class covers the four subjects found on the test: English, reading, math, and science along with the optional essay. Throughout this semester long course, students will learn a variety of tips and test strategies to improve their ACT test results. ACT Preparation is a class for students in 10th, 11th, and 12th grade and is half of a high school credit. Students have the option to take this course in the fall or spring semester, as well as over the summer. In an interview with Mrs. Harris I was privileged to learn a bit more about this course:
Me: How long have you been teaching at TPS?
Mrs. Harris: I am in my second year with TPS.
Me: How many hours is an average week of homework?
Mrs. Harris: Homework for the English portion should take about four and a half hours to complete.
Me: What is the homework like? Does the student complete a practice test each week?
Mrs. Harris: The homework for ACT is a mixture of reading prep books, taking practice tests, and analyzing questions. The purpose is to help each student think through different test strategies, find out which ones work best for them, analyze mistakes, and process ways of avoiding them in the future.
Me: How does a student decide if the SAT or ACT is better for him or her?
Mrs. Harris: Deciding which test to take is up to the student. The course itself doesn’t really address this issue with students as we focus on how to help students improve their test scores or prepare for the test in general.
Me: Do students have to have completed Algebra II prior to taking your class?
Mrs. Harris: Students should be taking Algebra concurrently with the prep course, or already have taken it. As a prep class, we review concepts and if the student hasn’t had a particular course and learned the material, the review will not be helpful.
Me: How much improvement in ACT scores should a student reasonably expect from participating in this class?
Mrs. Harris: As far as I know, there has not been an analysis done on this. Many students who actively engage in the course and continue to thoughtfully analyze each test see marked improvement.
Me: What is your favorite part of the class to teach?
Mrs. Harris: I teach the English portion of the class. My favorite part is just the everyday encouraging that happens during class time. We talk about fears and areas of struggle, and I get to encourage and hopefully inspire the students through their fears. When we start going through practice questions, I enjoy listening to the students articulate their thought processes as they employ reason, tips from the course, and fresh insight to select the right answers.
Me: Do you have any advice to a student wondering if this class would be a good fit for them?
Mrs. Harris: This course is for the student who wants to prepare for the ACT. The best advice is this: you have to want it. That is, you have to want to make improvements and learn from your mistakes. We offer you tips, encouragement, and tools to help you prepare, but the work to improve is on you, the student. As a prep course, it’s designed for every student, and I’d encourage every student to take a prep course of some sort for any of the standardized tests. This course is unique because a math teacher teaches the math section and an English teacher teaches the English. You really get the best of both areas of study.
Beginning the class, students will start off with learning about the English portion of the ACT. Through completing weekly assigned English practice tests, students will familiarize themselves with the English test. Time in class will be used to review missed questions on the week’s practice test and cover rules and mechanics of English.
Moving into the reading portion of the ACT, students will learn to better comprehend their reading. Students will explore a mix of genres such as prose fiction, humanities, social studies, and natural sciences, learning to apply strategies to increase their reading scores. While reading, students will identify the main point of the passages and the author’s voice strengthening their reading comprehension.
In the math section of the class, students will learn how to carefully read and solve problems to the best of their ability. Students will be taught the most effective way to use their calculators to find answers quicker. Reviewing core topics such as Algebra, Coordinate Geometry, Plane Geometry, and Trigonometry, students will gain a refresher on past taken courses. Throughout the math portion of the course, students will practice math problems by solving actual problems on the ACT.
The science section of ACT Preparation teaches students how to use their problem-solving skills applied to scientific concepts. This course covers topics such as data representation, research summaries, and conflicting viewpoints passages in order to strengthen students’ science scores on the ACT. In addition, students will learn to analyze and interpret graphs and tables.
Lastly, ACT Preparation covers the optional essay section of the ACT. Students will learn the expectations of the ACT essay and work on applying them in their own writing. Through classes, homework writing, and instructor feedback, students will learn strategies to use on the ACT essay. Students will experiment with various writing prompts in order to broaden their writing skills and improve their test results.
Closing out the course, students will practice completing the entire ACT test in one sitting and learn how to score themselves. ACT Preparation can help to increase test scores and make applying to colleges a lot easier. If you are planning to take the ACT for your first time or if you need to improve the ACT scores you received on your previous attempt, consider taking TPS’s ACT Preparation class to further improve your test results!
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