High school has ACT prep day

News editor

Posted in classrooms throughout Marion High School are goals for students on the ACT college entrance exam. Specifically, the goal is for students to meet or exceed the state average in each subject area and overall.

As part of the effort to pass that goal, the school offered ACT preparation sessions covering all four areas — English, math, reading, and science — for students Thursday morning in advance of the April 13 exam.

Before going over the math portion of the ACT, teacher Gary Stuchlik tried to give his students some motivation.

“ACT scores correspond to money,” he said.

Unlike some other factors that go into scholarship decisions, such as family connections or background, students can control their ACT scores by the effort they put into preparing for it, Stuchlik said.

He gave the students an overview of what to expect on the test — questions vary greatly in difficulty and time to complete, but only four of 60 questions cover matter above algebra II level. A score of 21 (the state average for math is 21.8) corresponds to getting 31 or 32

out of 60 questions correct — 53.3 percent.

Because the ACT is a timed test, it doesn’t measure only what students know, but how good they are at taking the test, so Stuchlik went over some strategies for taking the test. Students should start by answering the easiest questions first, because they count just as much as the more difficult problems.

After the easier questions are answered, students should go back and take the time to work out the more difficult problems. An unanswered question counts against a test-taker just as much as an incorrect answer, so students should answer every question, even if they have to guess, Stuchlik said. They may be able to eliminate one or more of the choices offered, improving their chances of guessing correctly.

Toward the end of the class period, Stuchlik gave the students a 15-question practice test, then reviewed the answers and how to get to them. The very first question illustrated that the ACT often uses numbers that are easy to calculate even with paper and pencil.

Lisa Johnson, Janet Killough, and Bruce Rhodes also worked with students on ACT preparation Thursday.

Day-to-day preparation

Stuchlik also offers ACT help outside of class time. For two months before the October and April test dates, he offers help from 7:30 to 8 a.m. Wednesdays and Fridays.

“I think it has been at least 10 years,” Stuchlik said. “A number of years ago, our schedule allowed us to teach mini-courses, about 20 to 30 minutes per day, and I taught one on ACT math prep.

“When that course was no longer offered, I had students asking for materials and help, so I started offering the prep sessions before school,” he said.

Most of the time there are between one and six students at a session, with the number increasing the closer it gets to the test.

“Most of the time is spent working practice test questions,” he said. “We discuss the best strategy to solve the question and review the subject matter covered by that particular question.”

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