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The Art of the ACT/SAT

If you're the parent of a high schooler, you're already well aware of the importance of the SAT and the

ACT. Perhaps you've gone so far as to buy a study guide with the thought of helping your child prepare—only to realize that the expansive material can be overwhelming, especially when collected in a 1200+ page guide that you're expected to navigate on your own.

At the Academic Achievement Center, our expert educators have extensive experience with both the SAT and ACT. We're here to take some of the burden of preparation of your shoulders—and to help alleviate some of your student's potential anxieties through proven test-taking strategies.

When Should My High School Student Take the SAT/ACT?

We suggest taking the SAT/ACT in the spring of their junior year to ensure as much advanced math instruction as possible, but many students prefer to take it in the fall. That makes summer a perfect time to get a jumpstart on SAT/ACT prep: Without the daily stress of classes, students can concentrate more readily on sessions tailored to their individual needs. A summer start also allows plenty of time to map out your child's strengths and weaknesses, without the pressure of a condensed timeline.

Even if your child is just getting ready for their freshman year, it's never too early to start preparing for these critical exams. Practice tests are a key component of our specialty prep courses—and the more practice tests a student takes, the better they will score, thanks to increased confidence and comfortability. Because we take into account that younger students haven't learned certain advanced concepts, we work instead on teaching them test-taking strategies that will maximize their scores in the future.

How Do You Tutor for the SAT/ACT?

Our professional educators use a curriculum for the SAT/ACT that we designed ourselves, with proven results that significantly boost test scores. Our overarching guideline is ensuring your student can demonstrate mastery for each section of the test, whether they're interested in the SAT, ACT, or both.

In 2016, the SAT reverted to the 1600-point scale that you might remember from when you took the SAT yourself: 800 points are possible in both Math and Language. The Math score is divided between calculator/no-calculator portions. The Language score is a composite of the Reading and Writing section. Additionally, there is an optional essay, with a 24-point score that is separate from the 1600 score.

The ACT is made up of a Math, Reading, Writing, and Science section. The raw score from each section is converted to a 36-point scale. The total ACT score is the average of your separate scores from each section. As with the SAT, there's an optional essay for the ACT.

(If you're feeling overwhelmed just by reading the above descriptions, we understand! In fact, we're often asked about the difference between the SAT and the ACT. The main difference is simply how they challenge students: The SAT presents students with more complex questions that require multi-level thinking, while ACT has more straightforward questions but much stricter time limits.)

Because each section is vastly different from the other, our program focuses on the individual sections rather than the whole of either test. For each section, we have unique approaches for mastering concepts beforehand and for actually taking the test. We also help students with the timing of individual sections, enabling them to find the rhythm necessary to complete the entire test within the given time limits.

To achieve a high score on the SAT or ACT, a student must master test-taking strategies, timing, and core concepts. We focus on all three of these areas in each session in order to ensure the best possible results. Our expert assessment allows us to see where a student is weak so that we can tailor a session to their needs. For example, if we see that your student demonstrates a firm understanding of concepts and test-taking strategies but struggles with timing, we will put extra effort into improving that crucial skill.

In a typical session, one of our SAT/ACT experts will work with a student on just one of the main sections of the test. This allows us to zero in on concepts, section-specific testing strategies, and section-specific time constraints. We begin by going over detailed testing strategies or reviewing concepts that they'll be tested on. This is a great opportunity for students to express any concerns they have and to receive actionable reassurance from a professional educator—and when they're less anxious, students tend to do better on the SAT/ACT.

After practicing some typical problems with their tutor, your student will then complete timed practice problems independently. This mock-testing approach is a crucial step to helping students understand what the real SAT/ACT is like. It's a simple way to see a major improvement in scores, and it's one that allows your student to see the impact of tutoring in a meaningful way.

What Results Will My Student See?

The advantages of our SAT/ACT prep are numerous when compared to only at-home tutoring or large seminars that cater to hundreds of students. As professional educators, we're able to provide the advanced guidance that high schoolers need in all areas of both tests. Because we meet one-on-one with your student, each session is tailored to their strengths and weakness. Your child will benefit from personalized strategies that work best for their learning style, which means they'll be able to maximize their SAT/ACT score.

The biggest advantage of our program is that it works: On average, students can expect their scores to improve around 200 points in the SAT and 4to 5 points in the ACT. For students that are serious about improving their score and putting the work in, such improvements are absolutely attainable through our unique approach.

A Final Word on the SAT/ACT from Michael Floretta

AAC co-founder Michael Floretta is the head of our SAT/ACT prep program. He spends most of his time with us working one-on-one with high schoolers looking to improve their SAT/ACT scores. When asked for his words of wisdom on how to additionally prep for these tests, he had this to share:

“Do as much timed practice as possible, even if it's ten or fifteen minutes a few times a week. The more you can replicate the feeling of taking the test, the more comfortable and confident you'll be heading into the test. The night before and the morning of the test, I ask that students flip through the curriculum binder that we've provided and look through the strategies we discussed. I also ask that they spend a few minutes visualizing the test the night before and on the way to the test. For instance, open to the Reading section and visualize your strategies for going through the text itself, then do the same for your strategies for tackling the questions. Continue visualizing each section so that you're fully confident and aware of your strategies and how you'll use them.”

Start Your Student's Personalized SAT/ACT Prep Today

If you'd like to see a measurable increase in your student's SAT/ACT scores, give us a call at the Academic Achievement Center in Eugene. Our experts are passionate about improving your child's future through maximizing their scores on these critical exams, so let's get started on your student's personalized plan today.

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