If the SAT is a chess match, the ACT is a track meet
If you're good in math and science and bad in vocab, think seriously about the ACT. The ACT concentrates more on school-based "processing" activities than the New SAT. Here's a comparison and contrast between the two tests:
1) SAT Math requires students to apply "critical thinking" and "pattern matching" skills to math problems. This makes the SAT Math section somewhat foreign territory for most high school students, who have to "re-invent" the way the look at mathematical relationships. The ACT, in contrast, adheres closely to high school math curriculum. Fewer tricks, fewer traps, but students should have a good classroom foundation in algebra-II/Trig and be able to process information quickly.
2) The Reading section of the ACT, like the Math section, focuses on processing speed with the additional component of information gathering. SAT readings focus more on critical reasoning skills, where students need to analyze passages for narrative relationships and logic. ACT readings, in contrast, are "scavenger hunts" where students gather information on the fly as they sprint to the finish line.
3) The ACT has a Science section, which is primarily, but not exclusively, data interpretation. There is a weak corollary to this in the New SAT Reading passages. In any event, most students find this section of the ACT a challenge. An ability to correlate information in tables, charts and graphs is helpful, as is a strong background in science.
4) The English section of the ACT covers the same grammar rules and concepts as the SAT, albeit in a different format. Additionally, both the ACT and SAT now have an optional essay component. Since many, if not most, colleges require that the essay be taken along with the test, it's not really "optional". The new ACT essay is much easier to prepare for than the SAT essay. I have a new book coming out soon to help students crack the code.
ACT: The Bottom Line
Students who prefer a more straightforward standardized test with the emphasis on academic coursework are good candidates for the ACT
Students who do well in high school math and science and process information quickly are particularly good candidates for the ACT
ACT or SAT: How to Determine Which Test to Take
For students who want a quick "read" on whether the ACT is suited for them, I've provided an "abbreviated" diagnostic test from the ACT organization. Students should sit down in a quiet room and set their alarm clock to EXACTLY 36 minutes. Don't fudge; the ACT is a speed test so it's important that time is kept accurately. Answers are provided at the end of the test. Contact me with the total number of mistakes per section for an individual analysis.
Here's the diagnostic practice test for the ACT
In contrast to the "big box" test prep companies, where student teachers come and go, I teach all classes myself in a small group setting of 5 to 9 students. This allows me to establish an interesting and educational team dynamic that makes learning fun, unintimidating and, most of all, consistent across all subject matter. As a former college teacher, and high-end Miramonte, Acalanes and Campolindo tutor (physics, chemistry, calculus, and SAT/ACT) with over 25 years experience, I know how to handle a classroom and keep students both engaged and motivated.
ACT Summer Program
Several ACT classes are offered, all of which begin in the summer and continue on through the school year. I structure my classes so that students can take advantage of full immersion in the summer time (when students have more free time) and then follow up with bi-monthly review sessions to reinforce and augment the strategies learned over the summer.
Summer programs start at the end of June. Each class meets once a week for 2 hours at a time for a total of 9 classes. These are followed up with bi-weekly review classes that take place on weekends and thursdays from September to December.
Review classes ensure that the lessons taught in the summer are retained and enhanced as students grow stronger in their academic pursuits during the school year. Further review classes are provided in the spring on a monthly basis.
The opposite of a crash course, my program ensures consistent application and retention of test prep strategies. Students complete over 10 full-length practice tests spread out over several months to maximize proficiency. My mantra for students: more practice, more practice, more practice!
My class structure, moreover, takes advantage of the dramatic increase in academic learning that occurs during junior year, particularly in Math and English. All my students take the ACT in December and again in April when they're at their peak of academic excellence.
Makeup classes are provided for students who miss class due to summer vacation or other activities.
In addition to ACT classes, I also offer SAT workshops and a Master class for students who want to hedge their bets by tackling both tests. (Contact me for information on SAT workshops and/or master classes)
Classes begin in June. Register now:
ACT Course Details
Using my award-winning book "How to Write a New Killer ACT Essay", I teach students how to write foolproof, pre-fabricated essays so that they can dominate the writing test. Lots of sample essays are performed in and out of class. I personally evaluate the work.
As a professional writer, and nationally recognized grammar expert, I use my "Killer Grammar" app to teach kids the 9 most important grammar rules they need to know to ace the ACT. Along with this, I provide short-cuts for improving speed and critical thinking abilities in the Reading sections of the test.
Finally, as a long-time physics, chemistry and calculus tutor, I teach students all the tricks and techniques they need for successful problem solving and pattern recognition on the Math portion of the ACT test.
New ACT Essay Workshop
Here are the first two episodes of my new ACT essay workshop.
Top-notch standardized test prep tutors are professional, prepared, persuasive and fun! In addition, such tutors need to:
Use the "ACT Red Book" as the core material for the course
Teach problem-solving techniques and pattern-matching strategies with sincerity and clarity
Provide binder notes and corollary materials to augment the "Red Book"
Have a bullet-proof curriculum in place to optimize classroom efficiency
Ensure that students complete at last five full-length practice tests
Establish rapport with students to make learning interesting and fun
Address concerns of parents in a timely and professional manner