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September 2017

When Should I take the ACT?

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When Should I take the ACT Test?

No escape from the ACT—when should I start taking it?

For high school students heading for college, the ACT is as certain as death and taxes are for adults.  The test enters their conversations during freshman year when students begin to hear horror stories from upperclassmen—the ACT is too longI always run out of time…the math questions are terrible…the reading passages are boring…my score sucks.   Hidden in the last message is their secret belief that “I must be stupid.”


So…given that the test is a rite of passage to college, that the scores are very important for college acceptance, scholarships, and staying out of remedial English and math classes, what’s a high school student to do?

 The ACT is given on a regular schedule:  September, October, December, February, April, and June.  Starting in 2018, it will also be given in July.  Students can take the ACT as often as they like, assured that only the scores they choose will be entered on their high school transcripts.  Furthermore, many colleges are now “super scoring” the ACT by taking the highest score a student earns on each of the four subtests:  English, math, reading, and science.  This is a great boon to students and a perk to colleges that like to brag about their average ACT composites.

Increasingly, students believe that to play it safe they have to sign up for a practice ACT test by sophomore year.  This works for some students, but there are others who lack the coursework on which the test is based (especially in math and science) who then become discouraged by low scores.

While there is no fixed schedule that works for all students, I recommend that junior year is designated the “ACT TEST PREP YEAR.”   One workable timeline is

  • July – Get a base score and begin working towards future tests.
  • September – If July didn’t work, take this ACT test.
  • December – Retake this  “released” test.   Students can get copies of their test and answers.   Ideal diagnostic.
  • February – For students who want more practice.  Fewest athletic conflicts.
  • APRIL ACT month! – Free test through schools for juniors, and a Saturday test through the ACT.  ALL JUNIORS SHOULD TAKE BOTH!!! The ACT releases its Saturday April test—but not the school test.
  • June – Work hard to make this (or July) the final test. Overall, Students score the highest on the June test because they are out of school, rested, and don’t have competing commitments. The June test is also a released test, giving students who still have not achieve their goal score the summertime to prepare for either July or September. If the goal score is reached, senior year will be test free, and attention can be turned to applications and writing those all important college essays!

7 Tips to Make Your Common App Essay Shine

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7 Tips to Make Your Common App Essay Shine

Kristie Beck, M.Ed.

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Want to make your common app essay shine? Please watch this video to gain more in-depth knowledge. However, here are seven tips to enhance the strength of your common app essay.

  • Don’t tell talk about your G.P.A or classes you’ve taken.
  • Choose a unique story and talk about yourself.
  • Speak about your interest or hobbies, and you’ve pursued them in high school.
  • Talk about the unique or challenging things you’ve done.
  • Show your fortitude and character.
  • Revise but make sure they hear your personality through your words.
  • Make sure you check your grammar and punctuation.

The College Search: Finding the Right Fit

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The College Search: Finding the Right Fit

With more than 1600 colleges in this country, how is a student supposed to know which one has the right fit? Colleges list majors and programs on their websites, but how can a student find the place where he/she will feel right at home? That’s not as easy to find. Here are some questions to ask that might help:


  • How far away is “too far”?
  • How far away is “not far enough”?
  • Will I be ok with a dramatic change in climate? Or do I need familiarity?
  • What are my true reasons for wanting to stay close to home?
  • Or, what are my true reasons for wanting to go far away from home?

Considering location first may help you reduce the number of colleges in your potential pool from the very beginning, but don’t be afraid to reach out. College is time to grow!


  • Do I see myself in a smaller school, where my professors and classmates know me?
  • Do I see myself in a larger school, with thousands of students and larger classes?
  • What kind of school do I want? One that is known for its fabulous football games? Meaningful social activism? Important contributions to research?
  • How would I describe myself? Where are the people “like me”? (Creative? Academic? Athletic? Competitive? Laid back?)

You want to find “your people” – so that you feel comfortable being yourself, while at the same time you grow into the person you are meant to be.


  • What do I want as a major? What programs are most important?
  • How good a student am I? How hard am I willing to work for my grades?
  • What do I want to do after college, and which majors/programs/internships can get me there?
  • Do I want to study only my area of interest? Or am I interested in studying many things?

Many students change their majors! Choosing a college that has more than one major you would consider may be helpful in your exploration and growth in the next four years.


  • Do I know what a college is likely to cost – not just the “sticker price?
  • What is the financial aid policy of the schools I am considering?
  • Will I qualify for financial aid? (All students should apply for aid!)
  • Am I eligible for any scholarships? (Academic? Athletic? Alumni?)

For many families, the cost is the biggest concern — understandably. But truly, college can be more affordable than you think! Don’t rule out colleges too early solely because of cost. Find out what a college’s average first-year undergrad pays and what the average financial aid package is. Wait and compare financial aid “packages” from various schools. Remember: schools that cost more will often offer more aid, making the cost very similar, even for schools with very different “sticker prices”!

Take your time. Do your research. (Call a consultant if you want help!) College is one of the most important investments in your future.

Do all you can to find that place that’s right for you!