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  1. #1
    Senior Member swordpath's Avatar
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    Default I've been out of school for a while...

    Is the ACT hard? Will it require lots of study time?

  2. #2
    Senior Member FeatheredFrenzy's Avatar
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    I've been studying for the GRE. If the ACT is similar, it should be fairly simple. The math is nothing beyond what you learned in middle school, which comes back in a snap. Studying vocabulary has taken more time. But I think I overdid it cuz every time I look at that vocab book, I shudder a little.

    Generally, I actually like to study. I always thought it might be an IXXJ thing. Do you not like it?

  3. #3
    Senior Member Lacey's Avatar
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    I took the ACT about 4 years ago... I used this site to study. It's cool because it gives you practice questions (for free!), it keeps track of your results, and lets you know what your weak points are.

    I'm not sure how much I studied. I studied for maybe 2 weeks beforehand, and I just logged in and did practice questions whenever I had an extra 10-15 minutes. So it didn't feel like too much work.

    I don't think the ACT is hard...you just have to become familiar with the kinds of things they ask you.

  4. #4

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    I used to be an SAT prep tutor. My take is that the knowledge base tested by standardized tests of this type is too broad for anyone to realistically acquire if you don't have it already. Basically, I don't think you can study for the test. These are things you learned over the entire course of your schooling and you can't make up for it in a few weeks. But while you can't study FOR the test, what you CAN study is the test itself. Get some sample tests and learn the kinds of questions asked and how they're asked. If you put yourself in the testmaker's head and learn how they're writing the questions you can determine the right answer even if you don't "know" it. Or at the very least, you can eliminate wrong answers which is just as important.
    Everybody have fun tonight. Everybody Wang Chung tonight.

    Johari
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  5. #5
    Senior Member Lateralus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beat View Post
    Is the ACT hard? Will it require lots of study time?
    No, but for you it might.
    "We grow up thinking that beliefs are something to be proud of, but they're really nothing but opinions one refuses to reconsider. Beliefs are easy. The stronger your beliefs are, the less open you are to growth and wisdom, because "strength of belief" is only the intensity with which you resist questioning yourself. As soon as you are proud of a belief, as soon as you think it adds something to who you are, then you've made it a part of your ego."

  6. #6
    Feelin' FiNe speculative's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EffEmDoubleyou View Post
    I used to be an SAT prep tutor. My take is that the knowledge base tested by standardized tests of this type is too broad for anyone to realistically acquire if you don't have it already. Basically, I don't think you can study for the test. These are things you learned over the entire course of your schooling and you can't make up for it in a few weeks. But while you can't study FOR the test, what you CAN study is the test itself. Get some sample tests and learn the kinds of questions asked and how they're asked. If you put yourself in the testmaker's head and learn how they're writing the questions you can determine the right answer even if you don't "know" it. Or at the very least, you can eliminate wrong answers which is just as important.
    This is very good advice. You could know the material, and still not do as well as possible on the test without knowing how to optimally "game" the test.

    However, if your ACT score means something to you like the difference between gettinga $10,000 scholarship or not, then I would say you should consider investing some time in it...
    "How can I be, all I want to be,
    When all I want to do is strip away these stilled constraints
    And crush this charade, shred this sad, masquerade"
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGeq5v7L3WM

  7. #7
    Artisan Conquerer Halla74's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beat View Post
    Is the ACT hard? Will it require lots of study time?
    You can get whatever score you need to.
    It's all a matter of practice, no matter what your natural academic talents are.

    (1) FREE Online Test Prep:
    This site is great, check it out. It gives cool examples and much opportunity for practice testing.

    Number2.com :: Free Online Test Prep

    (2) KAPLAN Online Courses: Look into buying a Kaplan online course. I've taken the Kaplan courses for the GRE and for the LSAT, and both were really good. Right when I was done with the brick and mortar class, they unveiled their online modules. They film a good Kaplan instructor teaching each class of each course, and make it a CBT (Computer Based Trainnig) course. You can watch each lesson as much as you like. Also, Kaplan is cool as they give you a practice test up front on the first day, and score it for you, which identifies your overall strong points and weak points, and gives you a baseline score from which to improve. My GRE score improved 100 points as a result of the Kaplan course.

    SUPPLEMENTAL INFORMATION:
    I have taken alot of standardized tests at this point in my life, the SAT, GRE, and LSAT. Typical skill sets tested are:

    (A) Reading Comprehension: Learn to diagram the passage. Circle verbs, underline direct objects. Try to identify the topic sentence and box it. Make a list of the passages (1) Topic, (2) Scope, and (3) Main Idea. Then allow your mapping of the passage guide you to the right answer choices as you surf the answer banks of the questions. Remember, they will try to bore you, so the map is your friend.

    (B) Logical Reasoning: I loved these sections. The best way to get good at these if you are not already is practice them. They always reminded me of similies and metaphors, if you can think in those terms, these are easy. Again, use the Number2 site or get a book with lots of examples. I like the KAPLAN books or the PRINCETON REVIEW books. Get a book with a CD/DVD if you can, as it will spare you a subscription fee.

    (C) Mathematics: Most of the math on tests like these is "trick math." You must know things like x^-2 = 1/x^2, and silly shit like that. Geometry is often tested. Maybe even special right triangles from trigonometry (3,4,5 ; 5,12,13 ; 12,15,17 ; etc.). Again, look for an instructional tool tailored to the ACT, go through the modules so you know the math skills that are tested, and work as many problems as you can before taking the test, making note of your strong points and weak points, and hammering out the weak points. Remember, with math, alot of times you can "plug and chug", meaning you can plug the answers from the banks (A,B,C,D,E) into the question, and see which one is correct. This wastes time, but is an effective trick, so preserve your time by knowing as much as possible going into the test, and then burn what you save plugging and chugging the harder problems.

    (D) Science: The ACT tests other sciences doesn't it? If so read up on which ones and get as many answer banks as you can. I have not take the ACT, so I cannot advise you here.

    --------------------
    There are two useful skill sets at play here:

    (1) The material covered in the test itself.

    (2) "Test Taking Skills" = Structure of the test, strategies of the test makers, techniques to avoid making stupid mistakes, etc. For instance,

    a. "Joe Bloggs" answers are answers put into an answer bank that are intentionally misleading, things that an everyday bloke (aka "Joe Bloggs") would look at and immediately circle as that answer has some miniscule association with the actual test question. ELIMINATE these answers. Look for them upfront.

    b. Answer Elimination: If you have 5 answer choices, and you know that 1 is a Joe Bloggs, and that two others are certainly wrong, that leaves only TWO candidate answers, making your odds of guessing the right answer 1/2, or 50%, as opposed to 1 in 5, or 20%.

    c. Time Management: Be cognizant of the clock. When you start each section, turn to the end of it and count the number of problems in the section. If there are 30 problems, and you have 60 minutes to answer them, you have approximately 2 minutes per problem.

    d. Time Burner Questions: Some questions are meant to be ridiculously time counsuming, and if you come across one SKIP IT and come back to it. If you stay under your 2 minute per question average on a few questions, you can use your saved time to go back and attempt answering the time burners.

    e. Useful Fractions: Memorize useful fractions, such as 1/8 = .125, 1/3 = .33333, 2/3 = .66666, each 5th is .2, and also learn to quickly ballpark multiplaction and division problems, as being able to do will save you time.


    Good luck!
    Please let me know how your progress goes.
    I'm sure you'll do fine.

    -Halla

    -------------------------------
    FLUFF:
    Quote Originally Posted by EffEmDoubleyou View Post
    I used to be an SAT prep tutor. My take is that the knowledge base tested by standardized tests of this type is too broad for anyone to realistically acquire if you don't have it already.
    What a pep talk! JeeWhiz, Effem!

    You know I'm not hatin' EffEmm. I am just not someone to write off any person's capacity to accomplish something, especially a good score on a standardized test, if they are willing to work hard and with a sound strategic plan.

    Quote Originally Posted by EffEmDoubleyou View Post
    Basically, I don't think you can study for the test. These are things you learned over the entire course of your schooling and you can't make up for it in a few weeks.
    I disagree. The Kaplan course gives GRE students flashcards of the 200 most frequently tested words on the GRE. Those alone helped immensely, as if you don't know the definition of those words in the answers, you have very limited capacity to strike out stupid (aka "Joe Bloggs") answers. Their trick math techniques were also a good refresher, as I've always been good at math, but not under a clock, and sneaky math tricks leveled the playing field between me and the test.

    Quote Originally Posted by EffEmDoubleyou View Post
    But while you can't study FOR the test, what you CAN study is the test itself.
    I think there is a fair amount of overlap between "studying for the test" and "studying the test itself." Just my opinion.

    Quote Originally Posted by EffEmDoubleyou View Post
    Get some sample tests and learn the kinds of questions asked and how they're asked. If you put yourself in the testmaker's head and learn how they're writing the questions you can determine the right answer even if you don't "know" it. Or at the very least, you can eliminate wrong answers which is just as important.
    This is good advice!

    Quote Originally Posted by speculative View Post
    This is very good advice. You could know the material, and still not do as well as possible on the test without knowing how to optimally "game" the test.
    DAMN STRAIGHT!

    Quote Originally Posted by speculative View Post
    However, if your ACT score means something to you like the difference between gettinga $10,000 scholarship or not, then I would say you should consider investing some time in it...
    Of course!

    More often than not, a standardized test score is one part of an admissions package. At alot of universities, you can have a stellar GPA, and shitty standardized test score OR an average GPA and a great standardized test score and still get in. SOME schools require a good GPA in addition to a great standardized test score to get in. Whatever the terms of the institution you are applying to, it is in your best interest to get the best score possible. A good standardized test score will NEVER hurt you. Once you take the test, its done, you never have to take it again. And maybe you just might learn something inh preparing for it. I've walked away with info that I used IRL after I took a given test each and every time. There is nothing wrong with pushing your brain's horizons, whether its a forced endeavor like these or just for personal gratification.
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  8. #8
    Striving for balance Little Linguist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beat View Post
    Is the ACT hard? Will it require lots of study time?
    Dude, you're studying for that? Nah. Don't bother.
    If you are interested in language, words, linguistics, or foreign languages, check out my blog and read, post, and/or share.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Halla74 View Post
    What a pep talk! JeeWhiz, Effem!

    You know I'm not hatin' EffEmm. I am just not someone to write off any person's capacity to accomplish something, especially a good score on a standardized test, if they are willing to work hard and with a sound strategic plan.
    That's an INTJ pep talk!

    I'm not writing off anyone's ability to get a good score. I just think trying to learn a bunch of high school math and English in a short amount of time isn't the best method. I'm just going by what my students' experiences were. I taught in a well-do-do area with good high schools, and my students still had deficiencies in some of the basic concepts of English and math. I got better results by teaching them the test than by trying to give them a crash course in high school English and math. That's not to say there aren't some things you can learn, but I'd limit them to topics that are known to frequently pop up on the test. Your list of 200 commonly asked vocabulary words is an excellent example. I also found that the "game the test" angle engaged students more than dry academic stuff. They liked the idea of getting over. I had mixed feelings about it, but my job was to improve scores, not turn bad students into good students.

    Beat, since you're in California, I'd recommend Ivy West if you decide to get a prep course. It's the company I worked for and their course is a good one.
    Everybody have fun tonight. Everybody Wang Chung tonight.

    Johari
    /Nohari

  10. #10
    Senior Member swordpath's Avatar
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    Thanks for all that, Halla-man.

    Looks like I'll probably start back at a community college. Won't need an ACT score for that, but possibly in the future, if I transfer to a university.

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