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What makes an ACT preparation class perfect? While there are many components that constitute an ideal learning environment, let’s discuss one that you won’t read about too often: learning from an instructor who has achieved a perfect score on the ACT. More than once. And not ten years ago. Or five years ago. But most recently, three weeks ago.

So why is this even important?

It is essential that students learn SAT and ACT skills from a teacher who actually takes the exam. Without taking the exam, instructors (even if they have complete expertise on the requisite skill sets) become more and more disconnected from the full test day experience that students are faced with. Beyond this, there is an immense benefit to students when learning from someone who achieves perfect scores. Obviously students who are striving for a perfect, or near perfect, score require instruction from a teacher who has accomplished the same, but students of all abilities receive crucial insight. Hence the first lesson…

Lesson 1: Even more useful strategies for all students. By forcing myself to sit in the same chair as students on test day mornings, I understand what it’s like to be faced with a confusing grammar question or a timing issue in the reading section or an “impossible” science passage. In all situations, I improvise to come up with a way to determine the answer choice that is most likely correct and, after doing this for years, I have been able to establish certain patterns. This allows me to share some extremely unique and effective strategies.

Lesson 2: We can control our performance but not the outcome. In taking the ACT many times, I have achieved a perfect score multiple times – but not every time! In fact, more than half the time I do not achieve a perfect score. In any preparation program, students’ expectations must be properly qualified. While we can be trained to do our absolute best, on some ACT exams our best effort will not result in the ideal score we know we are capable of. Other times, our best effort does yield our goal score. Based on actual probabilities, students often need to take the ACT two or three times to ensure their best performance results in their desired score.

Lesson 3: The timing struggle is real, but it need not preclude an ideal performance. When preparing for the SAT, many students discover that they have plenty of time on that exam. However, the ACT is a very different story. The ability to be decisive and move quickly is of the utmost importance, particularly in the reading and science sections. Learning to become comfortable performing under the pressure of the clock is crucial on this exam.

Lesson 4: Expect the unexpected may be a trite saying, but we don’t hear it too often about standardized tests. The fact is no matter how well prepared you are, unexpected circumstances will always occur! Sometimes it’s a math question that is relatively early on in the difficulty progression that unexpectedly stumps you. Or in the midst of experiencing some momentum in quickly answering questions on a reading passage that you understood extremely well, all of the sudden you find a question that leaves you completely confused. These situations will occur. Understanding this and knowing how to handle each scenario is part of what it takes to achieve your own best performance.

Lesson 5: How to answer every type of question correctly. Okay, you knew this one was coming. But when you are learning how to master the ACT, you want to learn how to be able to answer every single type of question correctly. Taking the actual exam many times has allowed me to determine which grammar concepts students must know (many of which are not taught in schools), which obscure math concepts to expect, best practices and strategies for handling the timing pressure of the reading test, and how to quickly sort through the important information in a science passage.

Just as who you are learning from is a crucial aspect of your perfect ACT preparation, there are other important considerations, such as when to prepare or which exam to focus on. Feel free to reach out to me with any questions about your specific situation.


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