The most pivotal time in the average student’s high school life is not, to their dismay, prom week, but rather the intense period of preparation before the American College Test. Commonly known as the ACT, the rigorous three-hour exam is among the most heavily weighted factors in college admission.
ACT preparation for most students begins months before the actual test date, and for good reason. A student’s GPA, course load, extracurricular activities, and ACT/SAT scores typically determine college acceptance. Looking at some ACT national statistics:
– The ACT is universally accepted for college admission.
– The 2013 National ACT average score was 20.9.
– Public university acceptance scores range from 21-28
– Scores from 26-31 will likely solidify acceptance into top twenty public universities.
– Acceptance scores for Ivy League universities range from 30-34.
While the importance of a good ACT score should not be undervalued, the test itself should also be seen as an opportunity to prepare for the next step of education. Learning to adapt study habits to fit college courses is key for incoming college students. The ACT can be a student’s benchmark to starting such a change, which for many students can be a dramatic one. Studying for the ACT, while time-consuming and possibly frustrating, can help young students begin their acclamation to university-level education.
Though the ACT is largely curriculum based, the exam also prepares students for logic-based analysis and critical thinking. College education differs most from high school in that critical thinking becomes equally, if not more, important than merely absorbing information. Defining one’s personal learning style often makes the difference between thriving in college courses and struggling to pass them.
Numerous ACT preparation tools are available today, all varying in success rate and comprehensiveness. Newer kinds of test preparation, which include taking ACT prep courses online, focus on adaptive learning and critical thinking. Preparation tools like this can assist students beyond solely educational purposes.
As a recent college graduate myself, I know first hand that college is about growing from an unmotivated, narrow-minded kid into a maturing young adult. In my experience, those who are the most successful in college realize this true purpose and begin preparing for it early on. Essentially, the sooner a student begins to think logically, independently, and critically, the better off they will be in college. Though on the surface the ACT doesn’t seem like an opportunity to prepare for college life in general, using the right tools and taking prep work seriously can be the optimal opening.