Last Updated: September 25, 2014
by Holly King
It’s difficult to know whether or not something will make or break your college application. Should you take exclusively AP courses? Focus more on your personal essay? Take three lifestyle courses and cling tight to your 4.0? The reality is that, the most important factor comes down to what your dream school deems the most important factor.
However, one thing does remain true — your ACT score needs to be high enough to keep you out of the “no” pile. Here are six things that may factor into how well you’re scoring.
We’ve all heard it before and we’re going to hear it again. Sleep impacts everything, especially your test scores. Cramming all night long will never be as beneficial to you as sleep will be. In a study performed by the ACT committee, students who slept 7-10 hours the night before retaking their ACT consistently scored one point higher than their previous test scores. Students who reported sleeping less than three hours saw only half of that improvement in their composite test scores.
No doubt having a well-balanced breakfast is another tip you’ve already heard, but the same study done by the group at ACT found that students who ate breakfast before their retakes saw composite score improvements. Going into your test with a full stomach will allow you to focus less on finding a snack during your breaks, and more on the next section of the test.
3. Faster Internet
In a recently published study by High Speed Internet, a state’s internet speed showed a stronger correlation to ACT scores than household median income. The study also reveals that, on average, students who live in states with faster internet score higher than those who live in states with lower internet speeds. How’s that for new information?
4. Positive Thinking
Many scholarly reports have been done on the power of positive thinking. It isn’t just a fluffy term your yoga instructor throws around. Thinking positive thoughts before you do anything, particularly take a big test, can impact how you end up performing. And on the opposite end of that, if you’re sure you’re going to fail, you probably will fail.
When Miami High School implemented a silent sustained reading program that required students to read for about an hour two times per week, students achieved steady gains in ACT reading scores. In fact, students raised their reading scores two points over four years. As a bonus, improving reading speeds and comprehension levels will allow you to work through all sections of the test faster and more efficiently.
6. Family Income
Research conducted by the ACT organization reveals that students from “low-income” families (defined as having a family income of less than $36,000 per year) don’t perform as well on the ACT as non-low-income families. Of the nearly 400,000 low-income students who took the ACT in 2012, only 10 percent met all four college readiness benchmarks in English, reading, math, and science, versus about 25 percent of non-low-income students meeting all four benchmarks.
My number one tip? After taking the ACT 4 times, I can say with surety that forcing yourself to stay calm and take the test one step at a time makes a tremendous impact. I once jumped 7 points in the science section by reading the questions one at a time and then referring back to the story—rather than reading the story first and then answering the questions. Like I said: one step at a time. You can do this!
Holly King is a recently graduated writer living in Salt Lake City, UT. When not scouring the internet for updates in business, lifestyles and technology, she is tending to her garden and trying to perfect the world’s best egg sandwich.
image credit: oncampuscollegeplanning.com
Original Post Date: September 25th, 2014