All juniors to take ACT test
By Linda Petersen
Feb. 22, 2018
Juniors at Sanpete County high schools are getting ready to take the ACT test Tuesday, Feb. 27.
The ACT is the most-used college entrance exam in the U.S. Five years ago, the Utah Legislature determined the ACT was so important that it passed a law requiring all Utah high school juniors to take it and funded that action.
At Gunnison Valley and Manti high schools, yesterday, for the first time, juniors participated in an all-day ACT boot camp. The event was sponsored by GEAR UP, a federal college readiness program.
At the boot camp put on by a company called MasteryPrep, instructors taught students content-specific strategies for the four subjects tested on the ACT: English, mathematics, reading and science reasoning, along with helping them with subjects they struggle with.
They also taught them test-taking strategies, tips on question types, along with pacing and time management.
After the boot camp, students received materials they can study and practice with before taking the ACT.
Annemarie Davis, Gunnison Valley GEAR UP site coordinator, said she heard about the boot camp from other school coordinators. “They said it was a great experience for their students and that there was a fairly dramatic increase in their scores,” she said.
Davis said one of the goals of her program at Gunnison Valley is to increase the confidence level of students taking the ACT and other standardized tests.
At North Sanpete High School, teachers have also been working with juniors to prepare for the ACT.
This evening, all juniors will take a mandatory practice test, the PreACT, which is similar to the actual test but is completed in a shorter time period.
Along with other tools, teachers and counselors at North Sanpete utilize Naviance Test Prep, an online learning program.
Using a personalized approach, Naviance tests students in the four subjects and provides them with a diagnostic of their scores and progress, along with college planning tools.
While the state mandates that students take the ACT as juniors, next week’s test will not be the first time for many of them. At North Sanpete, sophomores in the school’s college and career readiness classes take the ACT.
“We want them to be prepared for college classes their junior year, some of which require the ACT,” Nan Ault, North Sanpete’s principal, said.
North Sanpete also uses ACT Aspire, an ACT-prep program with the same content and the same benchmarks as the ACT, which tests freshmen and sophomores. Interim tests are taken in the fall and winter. A summative test in the spring predicts their ACT scores as juniors, Ault said.
Ault said ACT Aspire provides data that can be used to help teachers align their instruction to address the needs of the students, along with providing reports for parents on their progress.
Since a student may take the ACT up to 12 times, and most colleges and universities heavily weight ACT scores when deciding applications for scholarships, it is common for students to take the test multiple times in an effort to improve their scores.