How To Beat The 4 Major Causes Of Getting A Low ACT Score

The ACT test is a major college admission test that will move you one step closer to your academic and career goals. This test is bound to evaluate how capable you are to study in college, particularly in your chosen schools. Amazing boons await you if you get a high score in the ACT test, that’s why it makes sense to prepare well for such an exam by adhering to an effective ACT test prep program.

Your goal is to do away with getting a low ACT score. But why do students get a disappointing score? You ought to know the reasons why so that you can delve into their underlying causes and find solutions to overcome them. What are the causes of getting a low score in the ACT test?

  • It was too late when you started your study program. You may have been behind schedule when you started your ACT test study plan. Months of studying is actually required for the ACT subject matters to sink in your wits. This usually is the case not only for the ACT but for other standardized tests such as the SAT and the GRE, among others. Other than your knowledge, these tests are bound to challenge your reasoning ability, too. You will be evaluated on your skills to infer and predict as well as draw conclusions which are not typically practiced in your daily school life. To remedy this dilemma, you should arrange an efficient and effectual ACT study program several months prior to taking the exam. Pay attention to the days that you have reserved for your ACT test prep and be committed to do your studying tasks as scheduled.
  • You need to apply a more effective learning style for your test prep. Do you do well with studying on your own or with a group or a class? Are you more adaptable to taking online quizzes or do you prefer quizzing with your friends? Be sure to implement the learning style that you can settle in. This way, you can really absorb the topics that you are studying for in the ACT test. The key to this is to determine whether you are an auditory, visual or kinesthetic learner. Take the quiz online and stick to the studying method that is most effectual for your learning.
  • You are not familiar with the structure and the approach of the ACT test. Your test prep for the ACT ought to be different from the other exams that you encountered. Although the items in the ACT are derived from the usual tests that you have tackled in high school, they are presented in varying methods. They’re like your vocabulary quiz and midterm exams delivered in possibly more complex ways. In this case, the best solution is to take practice exams that will familiarize you with the test question strategies and structure of the ACT test. Come the big day, you won’t be taken aback by what you see on your test booklet because hey, you’ve seen them before!
  • You may be too pressured and causing yourself anxiety. Studies have shown that a significant number of students suffer from test anxiety before, during and after taking the ACT. Test anxiety is an overwhelming feeling, and it can lead to your thought processes bogging down. As a result, you might get a low score in your test. As a resolution, you have to look for ways to prevent test anxiety. Practice deep breathing, do some calming visualization for your mind and some stretching exercises to boost your circulation and relax your muscles. Lighten up and believe in yourself and in the thought that you have sufficiently prepared for your test and will even ace it.

These are some of the predominant reasons why students get a low score in the ACT test. But now that you know, you can plan ahead and prevent these quandaries. Ample time of preparation and being aware can go a long way and take you to the right direction when it comes to the ACT test and your academic goals.

What Are The Reasons Of Getting A Low Score On The ACT?

Sometimes, intelligent students think that they have it for the ACT as well. But surprisingly, they get a low score on this standardized test. Have you experienced the same?

Smart students scoring low on the ACT happens quite a lot. It is in fact a common problem. However, there are ways to avoid it, such as by using the most effective test prep techniques. You can maintain your excellent performance in the classroom and the ACT if you apply the right strategies. The first thing that you ought to do is to understand the reasons why some high achievers in class obtain a low score on the ACT.

The tendency of many intelligent students is to get complacent, thinking that the ACT is merely the same as the usual tests that they take in school. Then again, this is not the case. Why?

Multiple subjects are included in the exam. When you take the ACT, you’ll take a comprehensive exam that covers Math, Science, Literature and Writing. Whereas in the classroom, if you’re going to tackle a Math test, all you have to do is study for Math. That’s why studying for the ACT is more rigorous, and you have to engage on an effectual review program before taking it. A test prep routine for the ACT tends to be more challenging and time-consuming.

There is a time limit to follow when taking every section in the test. Time pressure when dealing with the ACT can be overwhelming. It can cause test anxiety that results to poor performance and low ACT scores.

You’ll encounter test questions and answer options that can be misleading.Test-takers ought to be meticulous and wary because there are items in the ACT that could fool them. You may think that you’ve marked the right bubble, but it is actually erroneous. It’s not the same as the typically straightforward tests that you take in high school.

Expectations are high when tackling the ACT. This could be distressing to numerous students. As an important standardized test, your score in the ACT will dictate whether you’ll gain admission to a high quality college or otherwise. Because of this, you might push yourself too hard, and the frustration that you feel might lead to a low score.

Different Problem Scenarios About the ACT and How To Resolve Them

Scenario # 1

You might be using the wrong study methods. How was your ACT prep? Have you done it effectively and with a sufficient amount of time? Come the day of taking the test, you might have answered all the questions within the time limit. You had no worries about test anxiety, either. Things seemed to be looking up, but you were disappointed when your score report came. You got a low ACT score! Why did this happen?

The Resolution:

There are many cases of students having studied for an ample time before taking the ACT, but upon getting the results, they were aghast to get a low score. A Math whiz in the classroom may not always ace the ACT Math test. This section of the ACT usually covers more topics, requiring more skills and knowledge. Consider as well that the phrasing of some questions and answer selections in the test can be tricky. Try changing your studying approach for your retake. Take note that the common ways of studying for a test in the classroom may not suffice when prepping for the ACT.

For instance, take more ACT practice tests. Research has shown that a good study program should comprise 30% of practice testing. Practice tests can acclimatize you to the format and approach of the ACT, consequently boosting your confidence and eliminating test anxiety.

Scenario #2

You were overconfident, and studied insufficiently for the exam. Intelligent students are predilected to ace their tests in the classroom. They may think that the ACT is as easy as their typical high school tests, thus they prepared haphazardly for it. Nevertheless, they get a low score in the ACT.

The Resolution:

Be aware that the ACT is different from the customary tests that you deal with in high school. If you’re not used its approach, you might get confused. The creators of the ACT have designed their test to measure students’ skills and knowledge. They therefore sprinkled it with a good dose of tricky and misleading items. Succumbing to it can ultimately result to a low score.

Practice as much as you can to combat this phenomenon. Schedule your ACT take or retake so that you get enough time to study for it. Preferably a few months. Arrange a routine study schedule utilizing credible and effective online and offline test prep resources. It is particularly crucial to take ACT practice tests regularly. Three or four practice tests throughout your whole test prep period could suffice in conditioning you to tackle the format and structure of the test. Be sure to review your wrong answers and decipher why you missed them. Know your weak points and build on them so that you’ll be ready and able to take the ACT despite its intricacies.

IELTS – Writing and Speaking Tips That Will Make You Score High

IELTS is one of the most prestigious English language tests in the world for non-native speakers. Designed to provide the takers with essential writing, speaking, listening and reading skills, it is an outstanding means through which one can prove his/her level of English. More importantly, it is a tool that alongside perfecting communication proficiency also helps with immigration to an English speaking country – an advantage hard to ignore. This article focuses mainly on two key areas of the test – writing and speaking.

The IELTS test is separated into two types – IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training, which correspond to preparation for a university programme or a professional English-speaking organization in the first case or working/ emigrating to an English speaking country for the latter.

The writing section consists of two tasks – Task 1 and Task 2, with 20 and 40 minutes allotted to each, amounting to a total of 60 minutes. IELTS Academic asks you to write about a chart, diagram, graph or table, explaining, summarizing or discussing it in your personal style, whereas the second task consists of writing an essay as an answer to a question or point of view. It is highly recommendable to write your responses in a serious, formal style. IELTS General Training will instruct you for the first task to either explain a certain situation or write a letter, while for Task 2 an essay will be given. Here, the style is more relaxed, as takers are allowed to write in a semi-formal style. However, it is advisable to keep a certain level of formality, in order not to fall in the other direction – informality, which is undesirable, as it will cost you valuable points in the assessment stage.

Important tips:

– Don’t come unprepared to this major test – The British Council and various web sites offer free tests or test samples. Take advantage of those and practice as much as you can!

– Learn to manage your time! A vital component that will help you enormously is time management. Practice; see how much it takes for you to complete the given tasks and schedule your answers in such a way that they correspond to the time requirements. This way, during the test, you will have no problems solving the tasks and will be less pressured by the time limit.

– Use clear formatted paragraphs; do not repeat your ideas and make sure you pay attention to the spelling, punctuation and grammar – you will be penalized for your errors!

– Do not forget about the word count! Make sure you write at least 150 words for Task 1 and 250 for task 2! A simple, effective tip for getting an approximate word count is writing around 10 words per line. This way, you won’t have to count all the individual words to make sure you fulfilled the requirement. You just need to count the lines – around 15 or 25, depending on the task number and you’re on the right track!

– At the end, read your production once again to check for errors and make sure you have used the proper, formal style of writing. This way, you will have an advantage over others who disregard this advice. Remember, every point matters!

The Speaking section consists of a discussion with an examiner, split into three parts, lasting a total of 11 to 15 minutes. The first part (3 to 5 minutes) is an introduction/interview – here you may be asked to speak about your home, studies, family, job or your hobbies. Part 2 (3-4 minutes) is called the Individual Long Turn. The examiner will offer you a card with a certain subject – a person, object or event and you will have 1 minute to prepare and 2-3 minutes to answer, during which you will only be observed. After you deliver your answer, some questions may follow. The Two-way discussion is the third and final part, lasting about 4-5 minutes, where you will be asked about something related to the topic on the card presented to you in Part 2.

Important tips:

– Make sure you prepare beforehand for Part 1, as a solid introduction may be favorable in your interviewer’s eyes. It is also a sign of confidence and self control, so do not neglect it!

– Practice your fluency with a friend. This and the coherence of your ideas will weigh heavily in the assessment stage.

– Read and improve your range of vocabulary. The more diverse and rich it it, the better are your chances of acing the test!

– Ask a friend to listen to your pronunciation. Is it clear and natural? Make sure you don’t over emphasize sounds and focus on the correct and recommended pronunciation. If needed, take a dictionary and look how the word in question is written phonetically.

– Learn to relax and have a confident attitude. Do not prepare answers from home; your examiner might notice and modify the question.

– Try to speak more that the interviewer does and present your answers in a clear structure, without going astray from the topic.

If you follow the above given tips and practice as hard as you can, the results will show. Be confident, give all you’ve got and in no time, you will be holding a IELTS high bands score card in your hands!

ACT Test: A Parent’s Guide to Getting a High ACT Test Score

So many parents ask me what they can do to help their students get a higher ACT test score, and so many of them are doing the wrong things, that it can be discouraging. However, at least they are asking and can get the right information.

There are two categories of advice I give parents about helping their students get a high ACT test score. What to do and what NOT to do.

What NOT To Do:

First and foremost, don’t ramp up the pressure on your student unintentionally by well-meaning, but misguided tactics. Spending a lot of money on tutoring or an ACT prep course may seem like the right thing to do, but that just puts more pressure on the student to make sure the money is not wasted. They need a confidence booster, not fear of increasing consequences of failure.

The other thing is not to nag. So many students plan to study and then, when their parents remind them, they choose not to study because they are feeling forced. Sometimes the best thing a parent can do is nothing; let them take the test the first time and do poorly, and then they will be more responsive to some gently suggestions.

What TO Do To Help Your Student Get a High ACT Test Score

The things that you want to do are to be supportive, but in a way that builds confidence. A quiet, reassuring “I know that you’ll do well” goes a long way to reducing the Test Anxiety that can cause students to bomb on tests.

Also, involve your student in selecting an ACT prep course that is simple and not intimidating. If it is too long or too expensive, they will just feel more pressure to perform and anxiety over how they will complete the course.

Sometimes, it is a better idea to have them complete two shorter ACT prep courses, because after the first brief course, they may see results and opt for a second. It’s much easier to climb a mountain by thinking one step at a time. Faced with a 10 week, 20 hour course, few students feel enthusiastic.

GMAT Essay Tips: 3 Keys to a High AWA Score

Most websites, books, and test prep courses offering GMAT essay tips do little more than state the obvious. Tips like “manage your time,” “structure your essay,” “use transitions,” etc. apply to any timed writing assignment and ignore the specificity of the GMAT AWA, which requires that test-takers analyze an argument. In order to receive a high score on the AWA, it is therefore vital that test-takers understand the elements of an argument and not just the elements of good writing. The three GMAT essay tips introduced below precede the elements of good writing: they are critical for determining which ideas in an argument require greater focus and for establishing a logical essay structure.

GMAT Essay Tip #1: Understand the Structure of an Argument

At the most basic level, an argument consists of two elements: premises (also referred to as reasons or grounds) and a conclusion (also referred to as a claim). The conclusion is the main point the argument is trying to convince the audience to accept (e.g., that a certain action should be taken, that the best way to accomplish “x” is by “y,” etc.). The premises, on the other hand, are the reasons or support used to justify the conclusion. Premises are statements believed to be true, but which have not been proven and may, in fact, be logically suspect. In a logically valid argument, the premises must be relevant to the conclusion and the conclusion must necessarily follow from the premises.

In order to help illustrate the distinction between an argument’s premises and conclusion, consider the following example:

The market for the luxury-goods industry is on the decline. Recent reports show that a higher unemployment rate, coupled with consumer fears, has decreased the amount of money the average household spends on both essential and nonessential items, but especially on nonessential items. Since luxury goods are, by nature, nonessential, this market will be the first to decrease in the present economic climate, and luxury retailers should refocus their attention to lower-priced markets.

In this argument, the conclusion is that “retailers should refocus their attention to lower-priced markets.” The conclusion is based on the following premises: 1) that the higher unemployment rate and consumer fears has led to a decrease in the purchase of essential and nonessential items; 2) that luxury goods are non-essential items, and; 3) that the decline in the purchase of non-essential items has been/will be greater than the decline in essential items.

Recognizing the distinction between an argument’s conclusions and premises is necessary in order to accurately summarize an argument, determine which points deserve emphasis, and effectively demonstrate an argument’s invalidity. According to the GMAT scoring criteria, to receive a score of 5 or 6 (the highest possible score) on the AWA, the essay must “clearly identify important features of the argument and analyze them insightfully.” It is impossible to insightfully analyze an argument if you are focusing on tangential points and are unable to explain the relationship between the various points presented.

To better understand the problems that can arise from not understanding the structure of an argument, consider this introduction from an essay on the above argument: “The argument that the luxury goods industry is on the decline due to higher unemployment rates and consumer fears is not logically convincing because it depends on three questionable assumptions.” In this case, the writer confuses a single premise with “the argument” and completely fails to address the conclusion of the argument – the most important point that accounts for why the other points are relevant in the first place. No matter how well-written this essay turns out to be, it will never earn a score above a 3.5 or 4: it is doomed from the beginning as a result of the writer’s inability to accurately summarize the argument and focus on its most important features.

GMAT Essay Tip #2: Critique the Premises Before the Conclusion

This is not to suggest, on the other hand, that a writer should not focus on challenging an argument’s premises or that premises are unimportant components of an argument. However, it is important to remember that the objective is not to challenge a premise simply for its own sake, but to sever the connection between the premise and the conclusion that the argument attempts to establish.

Because an argument’s conclusion is dependent on the premises, it is more logical to begin by first critiquing the premises before tackling the conclusion head on. After pointing out a problem with a premise, however, the writer needs to address the connection (or lack thereof) between the premise and the argument’s conclusion by explaining how the specific problem identified with the premise calls into question the argument’s conclusion.

To better understand the problems associated with addressing the conclusion before the premises, consider the following first two paragraphs from an essay:

The argument is made at a meeting of the directors of a company that manufactures parts for heavy machinery, during a discussion of the company’s declining revenues. Delays in manufacturing are believed to be the cause of the falling revenues as apparently both the delays in manufacturing and the decline in revenue happened at the same time. The manufacturing delays are attributed to the poor planning in purchasing metals by the purchasing manager, who has an excellent background in business, psychology, and sociology, but lacks a scientific understanding of metals. For this reason, it is advised that the company replace the current manager with a scientist from the research division. This argument makes many assumptions and fails to provide information about other factors that could be responsible for the failing revenues. Hence, this argument is flawed and unconvincing.

Firstly, it assumes that the scientist from the research department would have all the necessary prerequisite business related knowledge required to run the purchasing department. It assumes that there will not be any problems with regards to the inventory management and that scientific knowledge is sufficient to handle the inventory management. This is unconvincing as no information is provided about the training that the scientist would be provided on the inventory management or about the possible transition of knowledge from the manager to the scientist. The argument can be strengthened if information about training or transition is provided.

While the writer does an excellent job summarizing the argument (perhaps even in too much detail for an introduction) and clearly recognizes how the conclusion emerges from several problematic premises, the writer’s decision to challenge the conclusion in the second paragraph as opposed to later in the essay undercuts the writer’s otherwise strong reasoning. While the first several sentences of the second paragraph make valid points, the points being made are all tangential to the main issues: the cause(s) for the decline in revenue and the cause(s) for the delays in manufacturing. By beginning with the conclusion, the writer in the above example is implying the validity of the argument’s premises, for there is no logical basis for considering replacing the present manager unless both premises about the cause of the difficulties were true. As paragraphs three and four actually challenge both premises, the writer is undercutting his/her own critique by beginning from a position where both premises are implied to be valid.

As a general rule, it is best to critique ideas in an argument in the order that they are presented so that the connection between ideas can be critiqued as well (the exception being cases where the conclusion of an argument is presented before the premises). In the above example, the writer should have first challenged the idea that the decline in revenues is owing to the manufacturing delays, and then in the third paragraph challenged the premise that the manager’s lack of scientific background was responsible for the manufacturing delays. The points in the current second paragraph would be introduced in a fourth paragraph, that would begin with something like: “Even if we were to accept that the decline in revenues is due to the manufacturing delays, and that the present purchasing manager’s lack of scientific knowledge has been responsible for the manufacturing delays, there is still no reason to believe that replacing the present purchasing manager with a scientist is the best solution… “

By critiquing the premises before the conclusion, the writer would be building momentum and logical force. The writer’s critique of the premises would all be working to show how the conclusion is problematic, and the conclusion of the essay would be much stronger. The writer would have multiple grounds for challenging the argument’s conclusion, as opposed to the currently weak, tangential reasoning offered in paragraph two.

GMAT Writing Tip #3: Know the Different Logical Fallacies

As there are close to 150 official GMAT AWA topics, it is difficult if not impossible to prepare for the exam by writing a practice essay on each. Nor is this really necessary or advisable. A better approach would be to familiarize yourself with the common logical flaws, or logical fallacies, that appear in the official AWA topics, so that you can immediately identify the major errors in reasoning in the argument you are asked to critique on your official GMAT exam.

For instance, both premises in the argument above calling for the replacement of the purchasing manager are examples of the fallacy of false cause: both premises posit a cause and effect relationship between two separate events or conditions based simply on their coincidence in time or a correlation. Most of the official AWA arguments repeat a handful of logical fallacies that are far easier to memorize than the 100 plus arguments themselves.

Good GMAT prep courses and books will cover the most common fallacies (there is insufficient space to do an adequate job here). Once you memorize them, practice identifying the particular fallacy in an argument by working through the list of official topics. Most importantly, practice explaining why a specific idea is logically invalid and how the fallacy undermines the conclusion of the argument. Once again, the goal is not to simply point out that there is specific logical fallacy in an argument, but rather to explain how this particular logical fallacy calls into question the validity of the argument’s conclusion.

Hopefully the GMAT essay tips introduced in this article help clarify that what distinguishes a high-scoring from a low-scoring AWA is something far more substantial than a writer’s ability to structure their essay, use transitions, and avoid grammatical errors. To write an excellent critique of an argument, a writer must understand the structure of an argument and what constitutes a logically valid as opposed to an invalid conclusion. Only then can a writer accurately summarize and effectively analyze the relationship between the ideas presented.