Getting our students ready for college and career is priority number one for many high school educators. We work hard every day, all year long, to give our students the skills and knowledge they need to best prepare them for the next step of their journey beyond high school.
For many of our students that next step is college.
But preparing our students for a college entrance examination can sometimes be challenging – especially since the last thing our students want to think about is taking another high-stakes test. And I’m sure you’re cringing with the mention of that word, too! However, with the implementation of ESSA, some high school students have a choice to take the ACT® and others may not.
What is the ACT?
The ACT assessment is one of the largest U.S. college entrance examinations administered to high school students. The ACT is a multiple-choice, standardized test, that is scored on a 1–36-point scale and assesses a high school student’s readiness for college. It is considered an achievement test rather than an aptitude test (as evaluated through the SAT® exam). There are four main parts: English, math, reading, and science (not found in the SAT), and an optional writing section (that is scored differently).
ESSA & The ACT Exam
Do you remember taking the ACT before going to college? I attended high school at a time that taking the ACT was optional unless I planned to go to college. High school students today might be facing a different situation, and choice may not be an option, even if they don’t plan on pursuing college after graduation.
With the implementation of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), more flexibility with testing was granted to states. In addition to allowing states flexibility in how they measure student success, ESSA also allows districts to use a “nationally recognized” high school test such as the SAT or ACT in place of the state’s high school exam. Edweek.org provided a breakdown of what high stakes assessments are being administered to high school students. So far:
- Twenty-five states require high school students to take either the ACT or SAT.
- Twelve of those states use the SAT or ACT for their federal accountability, and most use one of the college-admissions exams to replace their other high school assessments.
The discussion of why or why not some states are embracing using the ACT or SAT as their high school achievement test is complex and lengthy. However, it’s worth pointing out that one of the most significant hurdles states are encountering when making this decision is evaluating whether or not their state academic standards align with the college-admissions exams.
2019 –2020 Testing Dates
Students typically take the ACT in the spring of their junior year, because the content assessed is usually covered during the 11th grade. Students tend to aim for the spring date(s) so that the content is still fresh in their minds.
Some students start preparing for the ACT in their sophomore year, and of course, many seniors choose to take the assessment in the fall of their senior year. The ACT also allows students to retake the examination in hopes of getting a higher score.
Reduce Anxiety Through Preparation
Fear of the unknown is a common feeling. Giving students an overview of tips and tricks, steps to take, and actions to perform, provides a sense of familiarity and promotes a reduction in anxiety about the ACT. Odysseyware ACT Prep provides an overview introduction that includes topics such as:
- What is the ACT?
- What types of content is assessed?
- What to expect on test day?
- What are strategies for standardized testing?
Get Students Practicing with Questions
In addition to getting students acclimated with what to expect during the ACT, preparing students through the use of practice questions can minimize test anxiety. When students interact with practice questions, we can help reduce test related stress by allowing students to get familiar with how questions are structured and the type of content they will encounter. Through the use of multiple-choice questions, we can teach our students the test-taking strategies they need to be successful when facing these types of questions. Odysseyware also provides students with immediate feedback on their answer choices.
Offer Extensive Test Prep Options
We always tell our students to practice, practice, practice. As educators, we know the value of offering ample opportunities for our students to familiarize themselves with – and develop deeper meanings of – content for higher order thinking and stronger strategies of application. Odysseyware values the idea of practice, too.
How many times do we as teachers search for, and piece together, materials to offer our students an abundance of practice opportunities? With the ACT Prep class offered through Odyssewyare, students don’t get just one or two practice tests. Instead, students have the option to take up to three additional practice tests for each area! That’s four practice tests total for English, math, reading, and science!
Get in Touch!
Engage with one of Odysseyware’s experts today to address your ACT exam preparation. Odysseyware can help you establish instructional plans that benefit students, teachers, and administrators, and make sure you’re on the right path for executing your ACT prep goals.