The ACT was designed to evaluate problem solving skills. Colleges wanted a way to evaluate students' ability to see any challenge and solve it strategically. That is why the ACT is unlike any test students have seen throughout their schooling. There is no memorizing facts, figures, or dates. There is no spelling mistakes.
When studying for the ACT there are two ways to look at it. You can take a growth mindset view and tell yourself that you are going to try your best. Or you can take a fixed mindset view and tell yourself this is a hard test and I can't get better at it. Which view do you think will do better on the test?
Hi, this is Stena Schmitt of Saints Training and Tutoring again. Once I was a long term substitute, and the staff was reading "Mindset: The New Psychology of Success" by Carol S. Dweck. I decided, even though it wasn't required of me, that I would read the book, too.
My Experience with Mindset
I have taught several students how to ACE the ACT, but not every student is an easy one. Students realize the ACT can be hard, but how they react to the difficulty varies significantly. After reading this book, I can put my students into two categories: growth mindset and fix mindset.
Students with a fixed mindset get frustrated with the material. I have to be extra diligent by how I show students the benefits of completing the activities I give them.
For example, one of my students can speed read material, but doesn't comprehend a word of it. I showed her a different way of looking at reading by making her ask questions as she read. Instead of asking herself "What happened?" after she has already read, I make her think about those questions beforehand. Then, as she reads, she can answer those questions. I taught her that it was ok to mark up books or use post-its to take notes as she read.
Students with the growth mindset, on the other hand, try everything I give them and go above and beyond what I ask of them. I don't have to persuade these students to complete the activities. My first student with a growth mindset started with a score of 14 and ended up earning a $10,000 scholarship to college.
Let me show you an example of what each student looks like.
Jerry is sitting in U.S. History class when the school counselor comes in to talk about something.
"Hey class. I wanted to talk to you about college. Being a junior you have the great opportunity to take the ACT. This test will help get you scholarships and get into the college you want. I am offering several classes after school that will help you with concepts the ACT covers so you can succeed. Tomorrow we will take a practice test so I have a baseline ACT to work with. Here is a sign-up form to let me know who is coming so I have enough supplies for every student."
Jerry is the third child in his family and both his older siblings received high marks on the ACT. He thought that he would be just as successful as they were since he is from the same genes. He took the practice ACT and thought he did pretty well.
"It didn't matter anyway; it was only practice after all," so he thought.
He didn't think much of the ACT until the counselor came back to class the next week.
"I have your scores from the test last week. I would like to start classes on Tuesday so you are very prepared for the November test." She passed out the tests and Jerry saw his score. It was a 14.
He was shocked. He thought, "How could I have gotten a 14!!! This has to be wrong. Both his siblings only took one ACT and passed with a perfect score of 36." He decided to confront the counselor at the first ACT class.
Jerry entered the cafeteria just before class started. He ran up to the counselor and started yelling at her about his score. "Why did you give me a bad score? I did great on the test. You just don't like me so my dad is going to report you to the board, so you get fired!" The counselor was taken aback by what Jerry said and almost started tearing up. She had never seen Jerry this upset before now and thought they had a great relationship especially since she coached track.
"Jerry, I didn't give you this score. This is the score you earned, but don't worry I will help you get a better score. We have plenty of time to practice before the next ACT." She said.
"What's the point?" Jerry slammed the paper in the trash and left.
Sam was in freshman English when she saw a signup sheet for the ACT classes. She raised her hand. "Mrs. Singer, can I sign up for the ACT classes after school?" Mrs. Singer replied, "I think that is reserved for juniors and seniors not freshman, but you could ask."
Sam went to the counselor to ask about the ACT classes. She informed the counselor that her dad took the ACT when he was a freshman and then again as a junior. It was as a junior that he received a perfect score. The counselor agreed to let her take the class.
Sam took the practice ACT and received a 17 as her score. At the first ACT class, the counselor talked about each question on the test and how it affected the scores. As Sam took notes, she analyzed the easiest areas to work on first. These were skills she already knew about, but needed to take to the next level for mastery.
During the ACT classes the counselor talked about how Sam could read effectively and apply those strategies to her everyday school work. The counselor also talked about how to create test questions and increase vocabulary while interacting with the reading. Gaining information from any material is a great way to study for any class.
Sam took the ACT for the first time in November and got a 25. She knows a 25 is a good score especially since she is a freshman and has more math and science classes to take. She will continue to work on the strategies she learned and focus some more effort on learning new skills in math and science.
How do you study best? Leave a comment below. I wish you the best on your journey to ACING THE ACT!
My name is Stena Schmitt.
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