Monthly Archives

May 2017

Why We (FOL) Should Teach YOUR ACT Classes

By | ACT Test | No Comments

Why We (Focus on Learning Center) Should Teach YOUR ACT Classes

Dr. Moss teaching an ACT prep class in Topeka, Kansas

Mark Twain famously wrote, “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” The same words could today be written about the ACT: despite all the buzz that colleges are becoming “test optional,” in actuality the ACT has assumed even greater importance. A student’s ACT scores still significantly affect college admission, entrance into competitive programs, college placement in math and English, and the amount of scholarship dollars earned. Some states, including Missouri, are now making the ACT a mandatory test for all juniors.

The importance of the ACT test has spawned an ever expanding “Test Prep Industry.” ACT prep programs and individual tutors offering assistance have sprouted up everywhere. Just about anybody can claim to be an “ACT coach.” A quick search on the web reveals the breadth of choices available. Students eager to improve their scores and parents anxious for their kids to earn maximum scholarship dollars are flocking to get expensive help, often without a clear understanding of what they are signing up for.

Despite all the money that is flowing into ACT prep, there is virtually no data about the effectiveness of the coaching that is offered. “Testimonials” and other such anecdotal evidence do little to reveal the effectiveness of a coach or a coaching/preparation class. What is needed (and should be demanded by parents and schools) is objective, rigorous data that compares the gains of students who prepare with the gains of those who do not. That last phase may not seem important, but comparing these two groups provides the only valid method to evaluate the effect of preparation: How much more do those who prepare, either with one-on-one tutoring or in a class, improve compare to their cohorts who just show-up?

This is the data we have collected and continue to collect at Focus on Learning. If you do a Google search for the Effects of Coaching on the ACT Scores you will find our studies listed, but little else. Although one point – or just a little higher than one point – may at first glance not seem like much, it represents the gain made by the average of an entire group of students who prepared compared to those who did not and is thus significant. This “one point” spread over all of the students – many of whom made much larger gains – translates into tens of thousands of dollars of scholarships and many educational opportunities.

We can raise your students’ scores: we have proven it and we have published the gains – our program, honed over 30 years, works. Our students raise their ACT scores. So, until someone else can math our results, shouldn’t we be teaching your ACT preparation classes? We come to your school.  Also look for our web based ACT prep programs that will be available soon.

We also offer two workshops for your teachers:  Teachers as ACT Coaches (TAC), where we share the strategies we have used successfully over the past thirty years and Teaching for ACT Success:  Revised Missouri Learning Standards and the ACT—What’s a School to Do?(TFS) for classroom teachers.  The TFS workshop provides materials and strategies for teachers to incorporate into their classroom curricula.

Contact us at or call 573-875-5187 for more information. FOL is located at 200 Corporate Lake Drive, Columbia, MO 65203.

Gary Moss, Ph.D.

Ene-Kaja Chippendale, Ph.D.

(Dr. Moss is a researcher and test consultant for Focus on Learning, Inc., Columbia, MO. His coaching areas include math and science. Dr. Chippendale is the president of FOL and her coaching areas are English, reading, and writing. Drs. Moss and Chippendale have worked together over 30 years to develop and regularly update their ACT programs for both students and teachers.)

Effects of ACT Coaching

By | ACT Test | No Comments

Effects of ACT Coaching

Around a million and a half students take the ACT test annually. However, despite the large amount of money spent on ACT prep, there is virtually no research supporting the effects of ACT prep on score improvement. To date, Focus on Learning has the only controlled study confirming that our ACT prep significantly increases ACT scores. Publishes in the 2012 Journal of College, the study found that students who participated in the coaching class increased their composite ACT score by 1.5 points over their previous highest ACT composite score. A comparable group at the same high school who did not participate in the coaching only achieved an increase of 0.65 points.  This difference is significant.  Individual score increases for the coached students rose as high as 6 points.  Coaching makes a difference.

What do a few points matter? A few points can make a significant difference in admission and scholarship awards.  A student with a mid-twenty composite score can get into many mid-level state or private universities. A student with a 31 or higher has a shot at Ivy League schools.   Scholarship awards are based heavily on ACT scores.  For example, one of our students who went from a 24 to a 33 on the ACT is going to college with an annual award of  $100,000.  ACT scores are also important for getting entrance into specialized programs such as engineering or journalism.  You can read more about the benefit to doing well on the ACT by clicking this link

Consider where you are now:  is your current ACT score what you need to get into your dream school or enter the program of your choice? Are you going to finish college in huge financial debt or will you have your college costs reduced or even mostly paid for?

If your score is not yet where it needs to be, contact us.  We can help you raise your score.  Not all our student gain 9 points, but the student who did worked hard.  You can too. We offer one-on-one tutoring that is geared specifically to meet your needs.  We also offer small classes geared to all levels:  beginners to those aiming for the 31 Bright Flight. Find out more about our ACT prep at and select the path that leads to your goals. If you have any questions, please call us at 573-875-5187 today!

To read our published article about the effects of coaching, click on at

Written by Dr. E.K. Chippendale and Brandon Painter