The ACT Test Prep Program in Greater Cincinnati, Mason, and Loveland
Our ACT test prep for the Cincinnati area is a natural choice for many parents here in the great state of Ohio perhaps because many in the Midwest prefer the straightforwardness of the ACT over the “trickiness” of the SAT. Nevertheless, upon a bit or research, it can be found that the common theme to every type of question in either test is critical thinking. Students need to be able to break problems down into their simpler parts to see the relationships that get them the answer. We believe this is true because many students who finish our SAT program and do very well on the SAT test, do extremely well on the ACT (i.e. 98th or 99th percentile) thereafter, with only a few more sessions of ACT tutoring. In other words, the carefulness of thinking needed to navigate the SAT provides a great foundation for the seemingly less tricky questions of the ACT.
Though it can be argued that there is less reasoning involved in the ACT than in other tests, students don’t simply stumble upon a score of 36 accidentally. Knowing the fundamental rules of English (and essay writing), math, reading and science allows a student to have some foundation to deal with the problems, but connecting relationships can be equally important, especially in the Science Test.
The ACT exam is really composed of several “tests”, as this ACT.org page describes. We, at A Plus, have found that rather than having a question and test booklet-oriented approach as a basis, the students attempt many questions and ACT practice tests for their ACT test prep. It is better to be step oriented first, to get down to the fundamentals and focus; lacking which most students fail to attain maximum scores.
- Underlining. Right away we help students understand the pieces they are working with by underlining each context idea they encounter. In essence, students are beginning to process these parts at this point and understanding how they fit with the whole of the question. This step is most relevant in reading comprehension, when we are isolating ideas we are going to soon find in the passage. We do the same with some English (or one might say “grammar”) questions, except in the case of understanding grammatical questions, we are mainly trying to prevent misreading and using those pieces to help us classify into some of the same categories we see in our reading questions. We actually “underline” in a way in the Science and Math tests as well, which are still part of the ACT. In Science, as in English, we are more narrowly focusing on words that help us see whether we have a main idea or inferential reasoning question, though seeing the individual pieces, what we are going to look for is also crucial.
- Classifying: Recognizing the categories of questions, math problems, and even types of charts becomes relevant because it shows students how and where they should be looking for the answer.
- Arranging the Parts and going to the Passage: When students begin to go to the logical places to find their answers and arrange the pieces in Math and Science problems in the proper way, they begin to make the sort of progress that increases confidence.
- Other Underlining: In Reading and Science, students are encouraged to not only underline the proper parts of their questions, but the proper parts or pieces in their passages. This allows them to see how these parts fit together as they can think and concentrate in a deeper way.
- Predicting: Once students arrange the verbal and/or math pieces they are working with in a logical way, they can begin to see what the answers should look like. This, of course, is even before students look at the choices.
- Correlate: Once students write down what they answers should look like, indeed only one answer generally will look like that prediction. Although groundwork must be established, the students who begin to think logically can now have a big advantage on many other students taking the test since they have done the work to know what the answer truly is.
Of course, thinking in a systematic way translates beyond tests like the SAT and ACT. Students often see their grades improve in school, even though they have the extra work of the tests to add to their current workload.
- Classifying. Classifying our types of questions is imperative to help us know where and how to look. Is it about the whole passage (main idea) or just a certain part (detecting detail)? Or is the question more idea oriented or detail oriented? These main ideas, detecting detail, and inference questions are in the reading section, while only the main idea questions and inferential reasoning questions occur in parts of the English section. The Science test, being more mathematical in nature, requires students to simply use detecting detail and inferential classifications to know how and where to look in the charts, tables, and graphs (and sometimes passages) to be certain they are on the right track. Our distinctively designed ACT practice sessions help students learn and adapt this technique quickly.
- Go to the right part of the passage. The “part of the passage” step helps us isolate the actual pieces we’ve broken down and classified in our first two steps for Reading, English, and Science. While the proper charts, tables, and graphs are usually the focus of where we look in the Science test on the ACT, the Reading and English test having long passages, forces us to look either at the beginning and end, or somewhere in the middle, based on our types of questions.
- Underlining (in the Passage). Isolating the pieces in our ACT tutoring is a big part of getting the right answer. When we underline the parts of the passage that match up with what is in our question in the reading and English sections, we prove to ourselves that the ideas we started with and those that we have found in the paragraphs are truly the same. This same basic process occurs when we isolate the components in the graphs, charts, and pictures in the Science test that match up with the ideas in the question parts. Are the pieces basically the same? Are we looking in the right place? That is what we want to know and the best way to learn this is by taking our ACT math practice test.
- Predict. Once one has found the evidence that one is required to find, it is time to put the pieces together. In the Reading, what do the ideas in the passage point to? What can we anticipate before we look at the choices? Seventy to eighty percent of the time we can predict this answer before getting to that point. This improves accuracy and efficiency, which are both very important for the ACT test prep. With an average of only about 50 seconds per question, we need to be in and out and onto the next question or we will lose precious points. A similar phenomenon happens in our ACT practice when we deal with the Science section: gathering up all of the clues and patterns in our charts, we put those elements together into something coherent that fits the idea we were trying to find in the first place. Either the answer will be directly there, or we put together the pieces in the puzzle until we have our own idea of the answer.
- Correlate Finally, we correlate that prediction we have made with the actual choices. While we may only be able to anticipate and write down our predictions 75% of the time, we still can pinpoint with considerable accuracy what our choices will look like. This is a crucial step. Writing down our answers, though we are dealing with a multiple-choice format, allows us to know we are thinking correctly when we see the essence of that prediction reflected in the choices we are given. The success that ACT test prep Cincinnati has seen can be attributed to a focus on these 6 steps.
Here is what we help our Cincinnati students do in each part on the ACT exam:
Using our ACT practice test, we prep students on the ACT English Test. which is a 75-question, 45-minute test that primarily covers usage and mechanics (i.e. punctuation, grammar and usage, and sentence structure). Secondarily, students must also prepare by sharpening their rhetorical skills, including recognizing proper writing strategy. organization, and style.
The English Test (Required)
- completion time is 45 minutes
- multiple choice
- corrections to be made in passage format
- usage, mechanics, and rhetorical skills tested,
Writing Test (Optional)
- students must complete in 30 minutes
- free response in essay format
- students scored by two professional graders who each score from zero to six, with a total of up to 12 points
* Spelling and rote recall of the rules of grammar are not tested directly.
There are a total of five passages on the test for the reading portion, each of which is accompanied by a sequence of multiple-choice test questions focused on the respective passage. Various passage types are given to provide a variety of rhetorical situations.
We at A+ are happy to say that we have helped several students get 99th percentile or even perfect scores on this test due to our ACT tutoring. We recently did an ACT test prep session online, which can be one of the best ways to take our ACT lessons.
In the Reading Test, multiple choice and scored to a maximum of 36, we teach students 6 basic steps to make sure they are on track to the right answer. You can get an idea of those steps below, which we normally cover right after our diagnostic test.
In short, there are 4 subsections to the Reading Test.
First is the Prose Fiction passage, which may be the most idiosyncratic of the four subsections. Because of the extra element of dialogue between multiple speakers that is not present on the other subsections, it can naturally be difficult to track who is saying what and why. Our method of labelling makes this fairly easy, so our students stand out in a portion of the test that gives others a hard time.
The Social Studies passage uses content based on anthropology, archaeology, biography, business, economics, education, geography, history, political science, psychology, and sociology. Still, being familiar with this material isn’t usually necessary: it is more about the ability to break these problems down, predicting the answer, and then correlating properly with the choices.
The Humanities passage may be the second most notorious of the Reading Test passages. This might be because material from architecture, art, dance, ethics, film, language, literary criticism, music, philosophy, radio, television, and theatre is sometimes remote from some students’ lives. Don’t worry, hang in there with the steps and you will make it through!
Natural Sciences segues nicely into the Science Test, which comes after the Reading. Questions here come from passages in the content areas of anatomy, astronomy, biology, botany, chemistry, ecology, geology, medicine, meteorology, microbiology, natural history, physiology, physics, technology, and zoology.
So, these are our the categories, students will see, but it is important to not get distracted. Remember it is much more the method than knowing the content to help us know what is going on. There is also the practical test of reason to know if the choice makes sense.
The Science Test is the next part of the ACT exam. What makes Science unique is not only the content involved (which some students can really take advantage of, possibly like in the Reading Test), but the necessity of interpreting graphs, tables, and charts, thus making it receive great focus during our ACT tutoring.
In other words, we teach our students to break down these problems into their simpler components in a similar way with similar the six steps we teach in Reading. The difference is that there are only two classifications we use in the questions: (1) inferential reasoning (2) detecting detail. With these two categories to look through, students know where and how to find their answers.
The types of questions of this particular section are broken down into data representation (graphs, tables, and other schemas), research summaries (descriptions of several related experiments), and conflicting views (expressions of several related hypotheses that are not consistent with one another).
Secondarily, there is the school-oriented subject matter that makes up these same subsections, oriented toward Earth or physical science, and biology. Students who have a very deep understanding of the related classes obviously have a big advantage, but pinpointing how and where to look generally allows an intelligent student to get 5 of every 6 questions correct. That sixth question will be more about how well the student took in everything in a well-developed class (fundamental ideas are assumed to be well known).
The Math Test, unlike the mathematics problems on the SAT, is more about knowing formulas than solving puzzles. However, having a system in place is crucial, with or without a tutor. Besides the more direct nature of the questions and their more practical orientation, students need to remember the many formulas and concepts they learned in school, from basic mathematics to trigonometry and pre calculus in order to ace their ACT math practice. A big reason the ACT has received the stigma of being the “easy” test is probably that, despite the fact there is some trigonometry tested, it is only about 6% of the tests, while basic math, algebra, and geometry predominates. Still a student needs to be systematic about going through the problems and knowing what he is looking for each step of the way. We handle this with the same six steps we use for the SAT, though it is very important to get practical and do actual ACT practice tests before test day to see the wide range of concepts tested. The same techniques are used in our ACT test prep Loveland and Mason chapters.
As seen from the video below, we can get big results in a short amount of time with our system, so if you would like to check out the possibilities and our availability for our ACT test prep Mason program or the same programs in Cincinnati, Loveland or West Chester, OH, give us a call at 513 939-9033 or email email@example.com.