ACT Tutoring and Test Prep

General Academic is Houston’s ACT-prep leader. For more than 20 years, thousands of students have aced the ACT with the help of our private tutoring, courses, and 12 published practice tests.

We offer private one-to-one tutoring, which can occur in your home or at our Rice Village Study Lounge.

Our Proven Approach to ACT Prep

Students start with a full-length diagnostic/practice test to evaluate their current strengths and weaknesses. The test should be as realistic as possible, including timed conditions. General Academic has published 7 full-length, practice tests for the ACT.

Upon scoring the test, our tutors and managers will evaluate the student’s position and outline a roadmap for improvement. The tutor will discuss test-taking strategies and general tips.

Concept review comprises the bulk of ACT test prep. To do well, students must have a firm grasp of the tested concepts in all sections of the test. No amount of tips and tricks will compensate for not knowing how to solve an equation or how to identify a main idea.

As students strengthen their fundamental content skills, they must be able to apply that knowledge in new and novel ways on test day. The best way to ensure this capability is to work many test-like practice questions.

The process of ACT test prep is continual, and the duration and intensity of preparation will depend on the disparity between the student’s starting place and desired outcome. Most of our students will take a minimum of 3 full-length practice tests and 2 official tests.

According to ACT’s own research, taking the ACT multiple times is one of the most proven ways to earn a score increase. On average, 57% of students who took the ACT multiple times improved their score by an average of 2.9 points.

ACT Preparation Services

ACT Overview

Students may take the ACT as frequently as they want and need to. Official ACT test dates vary slightly from year-to-year, but we generally recommend that they take the test up to three times throughout their Junior year of high school:

  1. Late October
  2. Mid-February
  3. Early April

Testing multiple times allows students to set goals for themselves leading up to each test date, and to then revisit those goals and adjust their study plan accordingly each time they take the test. It also allows students to become more comfortable with the testing environment.

Beginning in September 2020, the ACT will also offer Section Retesting; students will be able to re-take between one and three individual sections of the ACT (in an online format) on any of the seven national ACT test dates offered throughout the year. This will add even more flexibility to the ACT preparation timeline.

The ACT is a 4-part test that lasts approximately 3 hours and includes one 10-minute break. Taking the optional fifth component, the ACT writing test, adds another 40 minutes and an additional short break.

The four multiple-choice sections include:

  • English (75 questions, 45 minutes)
  • Math (60 questions, 60 minutes)
  • Reading (40 questions, 35 minutes)
  • Science (40 questions, 35 minutes)

The ACT is designed to test students on concepts that they have learned throughout their high school career. This includes:

  • Grammar, mechanics, rhetoric, and style for the English test
  • Math through Algebra 2 (along with some Trigonometry) for the Math test
  • Reading comprehension and analysis skills across a variety of genres for the Reading test
  • Data analysis and scientific problem-solving skills for the Science test

Preparing for the ACT therefore does not require students to learn a significant number of new concepts; instead, students must continually review and reinforce their knowledge and skills based on their individual strengths and weaknesses, while also gaining familiarity and comfort with the test structure (including its format and timing).

For each of the four multiple-choice sections on the ACT, the student’s raw score is converted into a “Scale Score” from 1 to 36. The average of the student’s scale score from each section results in their overall ACT score, or composite score, from 1 to 36.

A composite score of 20 is at the 50th percentile nationally, but many selective colleges look for students who have scored in the the top 5% (31 or above). It is very important for students to pay attention to the median ACT scores of admitted students for the colleges they are interested in so that they can set their score goals accordingly.

The ACT’s essay portion is known as the ACT writing test and is optional. No college or university requires the essay.

The writing test asks students to write an argumentative essay about an issue of wide relevance to modern society. The test provides a description of the issue along with three possible perspectives, and students are tasked with writing an essay in which they state their perspective and support it with relevant evidence and examples.

The ACT essay is scored and reported separately from the multiple choice sections. Two different readers assign a score between 1 and 6 in each of four “domains”: Ideas & Analysis, Development & Support, Organization, and Language Use & Conventions. The two readers’ scores are added together, resulting in a total score between 2 and 12 in each dimension.

​The best predictors of a student’s success on the ACT are good grades in school in core academic subjects like math, science, English, and history. ​

​Therefore, the best way for a student to prepare is to ensure that they’re doing well in core subjects well before they plan to take the ACT.

Next up are standard good test-taking practices:

  1. Determine target score & what it takes to achieve
  2. Know the content and format of the ACT
  3. Identify subject areas that are weak

Core academics are king. There is no amount of tips and tricks that will help students ace the ACT if they do not know how to graph a quadratic or punctuate a sentence.

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