The post What’s Going on With the ACT Essay: A Synopsis of Recent Issues with ACT Essay Scoring appeared first on Veritas Prep Blog.

]]>There have been some issues that have come up as a result of these changes. Learn the specifics about some of the changes relating to the ACT essay:

**Differences Between the Old ACT Essay and the New ACT Essay**

On the old ACT essay, students were given a prompt and asked to take a stand on a particular issue. The new version of the essay gives students a prompt that outlines an issue and offers three perspectives on it. Students must analyze the issue as well as offer their own perspective on it. In addition, they are asked to describe the relationship between their perspective and the ones offered.

Students are given 40 minutes to finish the essay, whereas they were given just 30 minutes on the previous version of the test. As a note, a student’s essay score is not affected by the stance they take on the given issue.

**The Old ACT Essay Scoring System vs. the Current System**

On the old ACT, students could score from two to 12 points on the essay. A student’s essay was read by two graders – each of these graders gave an essay a score ranging from one to six. The two scores were combined to determine the total amount of points.

Today, students can score from one to 36 points on the new ACT essay. Graders evaluate several aspects of an essay, including its organization, language use, development, support, ideas, and analysis. This new scoring system is designed to reveal more information about a student’s specific writing skills.

**What Sorts of Issues Are Occurring With the New Essay Scoring System on the ACT?**

One of the recent issues with the new ACT essay scoring system involves students reporting unexpectedly low scores on the essay. Some students are performing well on every other part of the ACT but are getting a low score on the essay, and teachers and school counselors who know the capabilities of their students are questioning these low essay scores. This issue is prompting some students to request that their essay be re-scored.

Another issue with the ACT essay has had to do with timing. Some students who took the ACT in September of 2015 applied to college via early decision or early action. Generally, the deadline for early decision applications is in November and the deadline for early action applications is usually in November or early December. In some cases, ACT essay scores were delayed, making students wonder if their application would still be eligible for early decision or early action.

**What Options Do Students Have Regarding Their Essay Score?**

Students who don’t agree with their ACT essay score can request to have their essay re-scored. They must make this request in writing within three months of getting their score. There is a fee of $50 to have an essay hand-scored. It takes up to five weeks to get the hand-scoring results. If an error is found, the updated scores are sent out to the student as well as others who received the original scores. Also, a student’s re-scoring fee is refunded.

**Tips for Writing an Effective ACT Essay**

One of the most effective ways students can prep for this section of the ACT is to write a practice essay. It’s a good idea for a student to time the essay-writing process so they will be able to finish in the allotted 40 minutes. Many students look at high-scoring essays to see what they need to include in order to earn an impressive ACT essay score.

Our ACT courses at Veritas Prep are designed to help students tackle the essay as well as every other section on the test. Each of our talented instructors scored in the 99th percentile on the ACT. This means that Veritas Prep students are learning test-taking strategies from the experts! Students can take ACT prep classes from Veritas Prep either online or in person. We give you the tools to showcase your talents on the ACT!

*Still need to take the ACT? We run a free online ACT prep seminar every few weeks. And be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter!*

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]]>The post Understanding the ACT Essay Grading Rubric appeared first on Veritas Prep Blog.

]]>Let’s examine the scoring process for the writing test and take a closer look at the ACT essay scoring rubric:

**The Scoring System for the ACT Essay**

Each student’s essay is evaluated by two individuals who are familiar with the ACT essay rubric. A score of one to six points is given for each of the four domains in the ACT writing rubric. The scores of both graders are added together to get a total score for each domain. If there is a discrepancy of more than one point between the individual scores of the two readers, then a third reader is brought in to re-evaluate the student’s essay. Otherwise, an essay receives a total score based on the domain scores awarded by the two readers.

**Ideas and Analysis**

The first item in the ACT essay rubric concerns ideas and analysis. Essay graders evaluate a student’s ability to understand and express the ideas contained in the given issue. In order to achieve a high score on the essay, students must also be able to understand the different perspectives offered on the issue. An essay should contain relevant ideas expressed in a clear, succinct fashion.

**Development and Support**

Students who achieve a high score in this domain offer solid evidence to support their points of view. In fact, they provide *specific* examples that help to support their perspectives. Students are able to convey their ideas in a way that is easy to understand. They take their audience into account as they craft their arguments. At the end of the essay, the reader should be able to see a student’s way of thinking regarding the given issue.

**Organization**

Students receive a score for the way they organize their essay. Their ideas should be organized in a logical way that lends to the reader’s understanding. A student must transition from idea to idea in a smooth way. An essay should have a clear purpose and end with a conclusion that sums up the student’s thoughts on the issue. A typical format for an ACT essay includes an introduction, three or four paragraphs in the body, and a solid conclusion.

**Language Use and Conventions**

Essay graders evaluate a student’s skill at using written language to clearly express ideas. A student’s grammar, spelling, and mechanics all play a part in a grader’s final evaluation of the essay. Incorrect punctuation and misspellings are a distraction for essay readers. A student who can use vocabulary, phrasing, and sentence style to convey ideas in an effective way will receive a high score in this domain.

**Tips for Writing an ACT Essay**

Students who want to excel on the ACT writing test should practice their essay-writing skills on a regular basis. This is all the more effective if a student studies high-scoring ACT essays. They can practice including all of the components necessary for an essay worthy of a high score.

Another tip for writing a convincing ACT essay is to learn new vocabulary words. Students can use these vocabulary words to fully express the ideas in their essay. Plus, learning these words can also be useful in answering questions in the reading section of the ACT. Students can also benefit from making practice outlines. A solid outline can help students organize all of their ideas and supporting evidence. Furthermore, an outline is a helpful guide if a student loses their train of thought while writing the essay on test day.

Our encouraging instructors at Veritas Prep can provide students with guidance on the essay portion of the ACT. Also, we can advise them on the various components of the ACT essay rubric. We hire instructors who achieved a score of at least 33 on the ACT: Veritas Prep students learn from tutors who have real-life experience with the exam! Choose from our in-person or online prep courses and gain the confidence you need to ace the ACT.

*Still need to take the ACT? We run a free online ACT prep seminar every few weeks. And be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter!*

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]]>The post 5 Signs You May Benefit From Math Skills Help appeared first on Veritas Prep Blog.

]]>Students who can relate to the following five signs are likely to benefit from working with a math tutor.

**Five Signs That a Student May Benefit from Math Skills Help:**

**1) Making the Same Mistakes on Math Tests**

Though most students study diligently for math tests and quizzes, some of them find that they miss the same types of questions on every math test. After getting their graded test back, they take the time to review incorrect answers and rework the problems. Often, these students arrive at the same incorrect answers. Not surprisingly, this is a very frustrating and discouraging situation for a high school student.

The good news is that a math tutor can step in and partner with a student as they review incorrect answers on a test. Furthermore, the tutor can evaluate a student’s approach to solving math problems to find out what the student needs to change in order to get the correct answer. Sometimes a tutor’s perspective is a necessary element in a student’s success with math.

**2) A Growing Collection of Unanswered Questions**

Understandably, students who are struggling in math have a lot of questions. They might ask their math teachers for answers but don’t receive any that are helpful to them. Their teacher may be explaining math concepts in an unclear or confusing way. As these questions pile up, a student may start to feel discouraged. Can a math tutor help with getting a student’s questions answered in a satisfactory way? Yes! It helps that a tutor has the opportunity to get to know a student’s learning style. A tutor can explain a concept in a way that their student can understand. Once a student starts getting answers to questions, they are able to grasp more and more mathematical concepts.

**3) A High Level of Math Test Anxiety**

When a student is struggling in math class, they may feel anxious at the mention of an upcoming test. This is a definite sign that a student could benefit from studying with a math skills tutor. Of course, a tutor’s main responsibility is to help a student strengthen weak math skills. But a tutor is also a source of encouragement. The professional math tutors at Veritas Prep are experts at helping high school students build up their math skills as well as their confidence. Students who have confidence in their math skills are less likely to feel anxious about quizzes and tests.

**4) Spending an Excessive Amount of Time on Math Homework**

Students who sit for hours at their desk at home puzzling over math homework assignments may benefit from math tutor help. A student may spend hours trying to figure out how to approach a collection of math equations or spend a lot of time erasing answers and going back to review the steps in a problem. Tutors work with students to teach them specific ways to approach equations. Once a student learns how to approach different types of problems, they can quickly move through homework assignments.

**5) Feeling Lost in Math Class**

This is an unmistakable sign that a student could benefit from working with a math tutor. Each student sitting in a math class has a different learning style. A student who is struggling in math may not be comfortable with the way the lessons are being presented. This can be solved by getting some math help. Tutor-led study sessions can be tailored to a student’s learning style. The material is the same as the student received in math class, but the tutor presents it in a way that is more easily understandable to the student.

For students in need of math help, tutor-led instruction can be the answer. Veritas Prep tutors convey simple tips and strategies to students that can help them boost their performance on math tests and quizzes. We offer online tutoring that gives students the advantage they need to master all of the skills taught in their math courses. Contact our offices to find the help you need today!

*Want more math help? Check out our YouTube channel, where you’ll find helpful math tips for both the SAT and the ACT. And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter!*

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]]>The post ACT and SAT Score Conversion appeared first on Veritas Prep Blog.

]]>While some schools will want to see scores for both exams, others request scores for either the ACT *or* the SAT. Naturally, if a student is applying to one of the latter schools, they will want to take both tests and submit the better of their two scores. This is where the process of score conversion comes in.

Take a look at how some students are using ACT to SAT score conversion to determine which score to submit with their college applications. Also, learn how our instructors at Veritas Prep can help students perform their best on both tests.

**The Process of Score Conversion**

The highest achievable score on the ACT is a 36, whereas students can earn up to 1600 points on the new SAT. Score conversion allows students to compare their scores on both exams to determine which is more impressive overall – this can be done using a concordance chart (PDF). Though the ACT and SAT are different types of tests, this chart equates their results in a reasonable way.

Students are able to garner a larger amount of total points on the SAT than on the ACT – as a result, a student’s ACT composite score can equate with a range of scores on the SAT. A score conversion can then help highlight the student’s academic strengths on their college application.

**What if a student only takes one of the two tests?**

A student who takes the ACT instead of the SAT may try to use a concordance chart to predict their possible SAT score based on their current ACT score, however, without having actually taken the SAT, the student will never know how they might have performed. A concordance chart is not a completely reliable predictor of a student’s performance on either exam – instead, it is meant to be used as a means of comparing the results of both standardized tests. A student can determine which of these two results they should submit to colleges by using the concordance chart to convert an SAT score to an ACT score (conversion to SAT format from an ACT score would help in the same way).

**Expert Prep for the ACT and SAT**

It’s important for students to begin with a thorough study program for both the ACT and the SAT. Veritas Prep offers SAT and ACT preparation courses that give students the tools they need to tackle all of the challenging questions on the test.

Both our ACT and SAT instructors have first-hand experience with these exams – in fact, our instructors at Veritas Prep must have exemplary scores on these tests in order to work for us, as we want our students to learn from the very best! Students who sign up with Veritas Prep will definitely have an advantage over their peers.

**Learning Practical Strategies**

We use top quality study materials and professional educational resources to teach our students how to approach the questions on the ACT, as well as on the SAT. For instance, we share tips on how to spot and eliminate wrong answer choices so students can find the correct answer in a more efficient way. We also assist students in dissecting their SAT and ACT practice tests to find the areas that need improvement.

As students prepare for the ACT, the SAT, or both, they can meet with our instructors online or in person and benefit from their skills and know-how. We provide students with plenty of encouragement, so they’ll feel at ease when they sit down on test day to tackle either the ACT or the SAT.

We are proud to guide students in achieving their highest potential scores on the SAT and ACT. Contact Veritas Prep today and sign up for our first-rate ACT and SAT prep courses.

*Still need to take the SAT or ACT? Check out our variety of free SAT resources and free ACT resources to help you study successfully. And be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter!*

The post ACT and SAT Score Conversion appeared first on Veritas Prep Blog.

]]>The post Improve Your Speed on the ACT Math Section Using Math Fluidity appeared first on Veritas Prep Blog.

]]>That’s because some of the later questions, particularly the questions from Questions 40-60, will require more than a minute. Basically, you want to put aside extra time for the tricky questions at end of the section by completing the easier, earlier questions as quickly as possible. If you do Questions 1-30 in 25 minutes, then you have 35 minutes to do Questions 31-60.

One way to improve your speed on the Math Section is to develop what I call “math fluidity.” That means recognizing how common patterns, formulas and special rules can help you solve any particular problem. To illustrate, take a look at the following triangle problem:

*Triangle ABC (below) is an equilateral triangle with side of length 4. What is the area of triangle ABC?*

The first step to any geometry problem is writing down what relevant common formula you’ll need to solve the problem; i.e. whenever I’m asked the area of a triangle, at the top of my work space I’ll write:

A = (b*h)/2

Having the formula in front of you will be helpful because right away, it’s clear that although we have some information, we don’t have all the information we need to solve this problem – we have the base of the triangle (4), but not the height. Since the height of an equilateral triangle always goes from one angle to the opposite side, where it forms two 90-degree angles, drawing the height of an equilateral triangle creates two identical triangles, as shown below:

Many students would now conclude that they need the Pythagorean theorem to solve for the height (that line bisecting the equilateral triangle). This is where math fluidity comes in. Although you could use the Pythagorean theorem, it’s much faster to instead recognize what type of triangle you are dealing with.

Whenever you split an equilateral triangle in half, you create two 30-60-90 triangles. These are also called “special right triangles” because they always follow the rule that the shortest side is always “x,” the side opposite the 60-degree angle is always x√3, and the hypotenuse is always 2x. See the triangle below:

So, rather than spend any time solving for the height of the our triangle by using the Pythagorean Theorem, recognize that because the hypotenuse is 4 and the base is 2 (of either of the smaller triangles), and because the triangle is a right triangle, the height must be 2√3. Therefore, the area of the larger triangle is (2√3)(4)(1/2), which equals 4√3.

Instantly recognizing that the two smaller triangles are 30-60-90 triangles only saves a little bit of time – if you can regularly shave off 20 seconds on question after question by *recognizing* special rules or how best to apply formulas, you’ll accrue saved time that can later be spent on harder math questions. Speaking of which, math fluidity also applies to tricky questions – similar to what we previously saw, *recognition *will break down hard questions into easier, faster steps.

So, let’s take a look at a more difficult question. Note, this next example is especially relevant for students shooting for 99^{th} percentile or perfect scores. Although many students can solve the following question if given enough time, few students can solve it quickly enough to get it correct on the ACT. Here’s the problem:

*In triangle ABC below, angle BAE measures 30 degrees. What is the value of angle AED minus angle ABE?*

*A) 30*

* B) 60*

* C) 90*

* D) 120*

* E) 150*

Although there are several ways to solve this problem, math fluidity will help with whatever approach you choose. As I mentioned earlier, it is always best to start by writing down a relevant formula, as it will include what information you have and what information you need. In this case, I’m looking for AED-ABE. Because I’ve also been given the measure of angle BAE, I’ll write down:

BAE = 30 and BAE + ABE = AED

Here’s where math fluidity comes in; the second formula is based off a theorem that you probably learned (and then forgot!) in your geometry class. I do recommend (re)memorizing it for the ACT as follows: a measure of an exterior angle of a triangle is equal to the sum of the measures of the two non-adjacent interior angles.

Are you drawing a blank? If so, take a moment to think about why that statement is true. If the smaller two angles of a right-angle triangle, as shown at left, are 40 and 50, then if we extend a line as shown to form the adjacent exterior angle x, then x + 50 = 180, so x = 130.

Also, 40 + 50 + 90 = 180, since the sum of interior angles of a triangle always add up to 180. So, if x + 50 = 180, and 40 + 50 + 90 = 180, then x+ 50 = 40 + 50 + 90.

Removing the 50 from both sides, we can conclude that x = 40 + 90, or x (the adjacent exterior angle of one interior angle) is equal to the sum of the other two interior angles.

Now, returning to our original problem:

If BAE = 30 and BAE + ABE = AED, then:

30 + ABE = AED

AED – ABE = 30

Therefore, our answer is A, 30.

*Still need to take the ACT? We run a free online ACT prep seminar every few weeks. And be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter!*

By *Rita Pearson*

The post Improve Your Speed on the ACT Math Section Using Math Fluidity appeared first on Veritas Prep Blog.

]]>The post Answer ACT Reading Questions By Matching the Author’s Tone to the Answer Choices appeared first on Veritas Prep Blog.

]]>In this post, I’ll be covering one easy trick you can use to eliminate at least one answer choice on a surprisingly high number of questions in the ACT Reading Section – matching the author’s tone to the choices. Quickly read the following excerpt:

*Russian author Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy, perhaps better known as Leo Tolstoy, is largely considered the most prolific Russian novelist in history. Most famous for his two long novels War and Peace, which he penned in 1869, and Anna Karenina, which he wrote in 1877, Tolstoy was a master of realistic fiction. While not the beginning of his literary career, his rise to prominence began when he accounted his experiences in the Crimean War with Sevastopol Sketches, his first acclaimed work. Soon after, between 1855 and 1858, he published a self-autobiographical trilogy, Childhood, Boyhood, and Youth, recounting through fictional characters his own childhood with a sentimentality he later rebuffed as poor writing. Toward the end of his life, Tolstoy became more of a moral thinker and social reformer, transitioning from poplar novelist to evangelical essayist.*

Even after a quick read-through, you should be able to describe the author’s tone. (And if you don’t feel comfortable doing so, now is the time to start!) That is, you should be able to ask yourself, “Is the author’s tone laudatory? Is it critical? Is it neutral? Is it persuasive?” and so on. In short, you should have a general sense of whether or not the author has a positive, negative, or neutral stance towards their subject, and you should also have a sense of the degree – i.e. is the author strongly critical, or do they just have some reservations?

Now, go ahead and write down what you think the author’s tone is in the above excerpt.

In this case, the author’s tone is laudatory, as the author calls Tolstoy “prolific” and a “master of realistic fiction.” So, keep in mind that descriptive terms – adjectives, descriptive phrases, and the like – will clue you in on what the author’s tone is.

Now that we’ve identified the author’s tone, take a look at the following question*:

*According to the passage, it could be concluded that the novel War and Peace was:*

*(A) The first of Leo Tolstoy’s works to be published.*

*(B) Leo Tolstoy’s last novel of any cultural or literary significance.*

*(C) Written by Leo Tolstoy after he wrote his self-autobiographical trilogy.*

*(D) Written by Leo Tolstoy using inspirations from his experience in the Crimean Wa*r.

Without rereading the passage, I can immediately eliminate one of the answer choices. Why? Because it is distinctly different than the author’s tone. The author is praising Tolstoy, so answer choice B, which comes off as critical (Saying that the book is Tolstoy’s last novel of any cultural or literary significance is pretty dang snarky!), couldn’t be the correct answer.

Let’s use this strategy again on a few more questions. First, read the following excerpt and identify the author’s tone:

*“A handicapped child represents a qualitative different, unique type of development… If a blind child or a deaf child achieves the same level of development as a normal child, then the child with a defect achieves this in another way, by another course, by another means; and, for the pedagogue, it is particularly important to know the uniqueness of the course along which he must lead the child. This uniqueness transforms the minus of a handicap into the plus of compensation.”*

*That such radical adaptions could occur demanded, Luria thought, a new view of the brain, a sense of it not as programmed and static, but rather as dynamic and active, a supremely efficient adaptive system geared for evolution and change, ceaselessly adapting to the needs of the organism – its need, above all, to construct a coherent self and world, whatever defects or disorders of brain functions befell it. That the brain is minutely differentiated is clear: there are hundreds of tiny areas crucial for every aspect of perception and behavior. The miracle is how they all cooperate, are integrated together, in the creation of a self.*

In this passage, the author’s tone is positive. The author uses the words “dynamic,” “active” and “miracle,” and cites another author (in the first paragraph) who uses the word “unique.” Thus, these descriptive phrases allow me to conclude that the author takes a positive tone towards his or her subjects of handicaps and the brain.

Now, let’s take a look at some questions. The goal of this exercise is simply to notice what answer choices we can eliminate (not what the correct answers are) without rereading by simply noticing which tones of the answer choices does not match the tone of the author.

*The author’s main purpose in the second paragraph is to show:*

*(A) how he has come to think differently about the brain.*

* (B) why sickness often causes a contraction of life.*

* (C) when he had made new discoveries about the brain.*

* (D) which of his subjects helped him redefine the term “norm.”*

With just a quick look at this question, I can immediately eliminate answer choice B. This option takes a negative tone towards sickness, which is clearly out of line with the author’s tone.

Simple enough! Let’s try another question:

*The quotation in the first paragraph is used in this passage to support the idea that:*

*(A) children with handicaps should be studied in the same way as children defined by physicians as “normal.”*

* (B) deficits need to demonstrate intactness in order to be judged acceptable.*

* (C) neural or sensory mishap occurs in children as well as adults.*

* (D) development of children with handicaps may proceed in positive yet quite distinctive ways.*

Once again, you will notice that the tone of one of the answer choices stands out as distinctly different from the author’s tone: answer choice B is unusually harsh in tone (judging a deficit “acceptable” comes off as rather cold, if not outright inhumane), so I can make the decision, even without rereading the quote, to eliminate B.

The more adept you get at noting the author’s tone, the more naturally this strategy will come to you. So, next time you do a practice reading section, try incorporating this strategy into your studies.

*Note that I can use the matching tone strategy on these questions because they all reference the purpose of the author (namely, they begin with the phrases “according to the passage,” “the author’s main purpose,” “the quotation is used in this passage to support,” etc.). However, if the questions had asked about a different point of view than the author’s, I wouldn’t be able to use this strategy.

** free online ACT prep seminar **every few weeks. And be sure to find us on **Facebook**, **YouTube**, **Google+** and **Twitter**!

By *Rita Pearson*

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]]>The post ACT Science: What To Do on Test Day appeared first on Veritas Prep Blog.

]]>**1) Skip and Do What You Can**

On nearly any given section on the science test, some questions will be significantly easier than others. As noted in my last post, when a question begins with the phrase “according to figure x…” or “according to the results of…” you probably can get the answer (in well under a minute!) by studying the relevant graph or table. However, some questions aren’t as straightforward, so one way you may lose a significant number of points in a section is if you get hung up on a tricky question. Some questions are so jargon heavy that they simply don’t make sense on a first read-through. Others require you to make logical inferences based on multiple paragraphs and corresponding visuals, making it unclear where to get the information you need from. The number one mistake students make when encountering such a question (either one they don’t understand or one they don’t know how to answer) is wasting too much time reading the adjoining dense paragraphs. There will always be more information in the accompanying piece than you need, so if you begin reading through it without an idea of what you need to look for, you’re likely to get bogged down in technical details. It’s easy to waste two or three minutes trying to answer a question this way.

In such situations, it’s much more pragmatic for you to identify which questions you can answer in the section. Chances are, there will be two or more questions that can be answered by looking at the provided visuals and ignoring everything else. And if you are sure to answer the easy questions first, then at least you’re making sure not to miss out on any easy points.

**2) When You Return, Start Fresh**

Although I do recommend initially skipping questions that seem unapproachable, I still think that all students can answer them correctly. That’s because the two major advantages of skipping hard questions are that 1) you have a chance to calm down and rebuild your confidence on easy questions and 2)you’ll have a chance to look at the hard question again with fresh eyes. If you answer all of the easy questions in the Science Test quickly (which you can do if you remember that tables and graphs are your friend!) you will have enough time left to work through the more difficult questions. And when you look at them a second time, you’ll also have to chance to use strategies you may have forgotten to use the first time. For example, take a look at the following difficult question:

The first time I ever did this question, it stumped me, because the corresponding tables (copied below) didn’t mention either paper or plastic.

So, I skipped the question, finished the rest of the questions, and then returned to it. The rest of the Science Test went more smoothly, so by the time I was back to the question, I was feeling more relaxed and confident. I even remembered my strategy: that whenever the tables didn’t provide enough information to answer a question, I needed to scan the paragraphs for the important words (in this case, paper and plastic, which aren’t listed on the tables). When I did, I found exactly what I needed:

By reading just the smallest chunk of each experiment description, I was able to realize that Experiment 1 measured how well tape stuck to *paper, *and that Experiment 2 measured how well tape stuck to *plastic. *I then noticed that, according to the tables,* it took more force to remove brand X tape from paper than it did plastic. Thus, I correctly chose answer A.

*For more tips on acing the ACT and getting into the most competitive universities in the nation, be sure to** **find us on Facebook** **and** **Google+, and** **follow us on Twitter!*

By *Rita Pearson*

*Table 1 tells the results of Experiment 1, and Table 2 tells the results of Experiment 2

The post ACT Science: What To Do on Test Day appeared first on Veritas Prep Blog.

]]>The post ACT Scores to Get Into an Ivy League School appeared first on Veritas Prep Blog.

]]>**A Look at the ACT**

What is the ACT? The ACT is a standardized test that gauges a student’s skills in the subjects of math, reading, science, and English. The results of the ACT reveal a student’s understanding of high-school-level material. An impressive ACT score means that a student has grasped high school work and is ready to move on to more challenging material. The ACT is usually taken during a student’s junior year of high school. Taking the ACT during junior year allows a student plenty of time to retake the test if necessary. Also, most high school students want to take the ACT during their junior year so they can tackle the SAT in their senior year.

**Ivy League Schools and High ACT Scores**

When it comes to ACT scores, Ivy League college applicants should earn **a score of at least 32**. The highest possible score on the ACT is 36 and a score of less than 31 is not likely to earn a student a place in the Ivy League.

ACT scores are important, but they aren’t the only thing taken into consideration by Ivy League schools. Admissions officials also look at a student’s academic performance during all four years of high school. They take special notice of students who sign up for challenging courses. A student who takes on the challenge of more difficult material is demonstrating an intellectual curiosity and an enthusiasm for learning. These are both important qualities in an incoming freshman.

In addition, Ivy League admissions officials pay attention to a student’s extracurricular activities, including sports teams, clubs, volunteer work, and more. They like to see students who dedicate themselves to worthwhile pursuits. So although a student does need a high ACT score for Ivy League acceptance, it does not override every other qualification.

**Tips for Earning Impressive ACT Scores**

High school students who want to earn ACT scores for Ivy Leagues should start by taking a practice test. The results of a practice test are invaluable as a student starts to craft a study plan. One student may find that they need to focus a lot of attention on improving their performance in plane geometry, while another student may see the need to improve their punctuation and grammar skills. The results of a practice test give students the opportunity to use their study periods in the most efficient way. Another tip for students who want to earn their best ACT score is to make studying for the ACT a part-time job. Preparing for the ACT in a gradual way over a period of months is the most effective method of absorbing all of the necessary material.

Our diligent instructors at Veritas Prep have navigated the ACT and achieved scores in the top one percent of all who took the test and teach strategies to students that allow them to showcase their strengths on the ACT. We instill in our students the confidence they need to earn high ACT scores. Ivy League admissions officials are sure to take notice!

*For more tips on acing the ACT and getting into the most competitive universities in the nation,** be sure to find us on Facebook, Google+, YouTube, and Twitter!*

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]]>The post The Science Behind the ACT Science Test: Part 2 appeared first on Veritas Prep Blog.

]]>As you may have noticed, some questions refer to information from the dense paragraphs that accompany tables. In these cases, language in the question will tip you off; for example, the question will read something like this:

Notice that the question asks you about the *design of the study.* Whenever you are asked about the design or set-up, rather than just the *results, *you should know to immediately look at the referenced study, because the tables will not give you enough information. Note, in addition to looking first at the referenced study, you should specifically look for words from the answer choices, since those are the relevant terms to pay attention to.

Here are the related paragraphs in the section. Give them a read, and then see if you can answer the question on your own, before looking at the explanation:

Explanation:

The correct answer is G. Given that a controlled variable is one that scientists keep constant in order to measure other variables, the line “two seed dishes were placed in each site” clearly communicates that the dishes are the controlled variable.

In sum, the most important habit you can develop to master the ACT Science Test is always looking at the most relevant piece of information first. When you are asked about the results*, always look at the tables or other relevant visual information pieces. When you are asked about experiment design or underlying concepts in the experiments, use the terms in the answer choices to skim the dense paragraphs.

**Footnote**

*When you are asked about simple relationships between variables:

Tables, graphs, and visual information pieces are often also often the best places to find your answer. The question will usually begin with a phrase like,” According to Figure, Graph, or Chart x…”, which will tip you off as to which graph you should look at. Consider:

Even without knowing anything about the study, you can answer this question if you just *look *at the axis of Figure 1:

Answer: C!

*For more tips on acing the ACT and getting into the most competitive universities in the nation, be sure to** **find us on Facebook** **and** **Google+, and** **follow us on Twitter!*

By *Rita Pearson*

The post The Science Behind the ACT Science Test: Part 2 appeared first on Veritas Prep Blog.

]]>The post The Science Behind the ACT Science Test: Part 1 appeared first on Veritas Prep Blog.

]]>*Scientist 2 says that a protein may be trapped in a moderately high-energy shape. Which of the following findings, if true, could be used to counter this argument?*

*A) Once a protein has achieved its tertiary structure, all of the folding patterns at the local level are stable.**B) Enough energy is available in the environment to overcome local energy barriers, driving the protein to its lowest energy shape.**C) During protein synthesis, the secondary structure of a protein is determined before the tertiary structure is formed.**D) Proteins that lose their tertiary or quaternary structure also tend to lose their biological functions.*

And this:

*Which of the following equations correctly calculates R (in nm) for Objective Lens 2, using light with a wavelength of 425nm?*

*A) R = 425 / 2(.10)**B) R = 425 / 2(.25)**C) R = 10/ 2(425)**D) R = 0.25 / 2(425)*

Questions like these seem challenging for two related reasons. The first reason has to do with the technical jargon (i.e. all those headache-inducing terms like “*moderately high-energy shape”, “wavelength of 425nm” *and * “tertiary structure”*) that seems to complicate both of the above questions. In brief, as Daniel Kahneman describes in his magnum opus, *Thinking, Fast and Slow**, *when a person encounters anything unfamiliar, including words she rarely comes across in everyday life, she is more likely to feel drained and/or frustrated. This is exactly what happens to many students when they read the above questions; almost right away, they feel stressed. And notably, their first reaction is to assume that because of all the big, ugly words, the question will be difficult to answer.

This brings us to the second reason as to why these questions are challenging. Because most students immediately assume that such questions will be difficult to answer, they don’t search for an easy way to solve them. For example, they waste time by reading the dense paragraphs that accompany the tables or by trying to understand the exact meanings of complicated words. In order to help my students get in the habit of finding more efficient and less-stressful approaches (which *do *exist!) to solving such problems, I teach them the following test strategy, which I call “change *where *you *first* look”.

**The most important habit you need to learn to tackle the ACT section:**

Let’s take a look at some real ACT Science questions chalk full of technical jargon.

The biggest mistake a student answering these questions could make would be to read the accompanying paragraphs to try to understand what the heck “elaisome” is, or why “ant-planted’ plants survive longer. The reason you don’t need to waste time doing this? Whenever you see questions that say “according to the results of the studies”, nine times out of ten you only have to look at the provided tables, graphs, or charts, to find the *all *information you need to answer the questions. And on the ACT Science Test, tables are your best friend. I’ll show you what I mean; take a look at the following tables that will give us the answers to the above questions:

The key to reading these tables is to look along their rows and columns to find the labels that match the terms (the technical jargon) in the questions. For example, notice that the answer choices in the first question match the row labels on Table 3 (seeds that germinated, plants alive after 1 year, plants alive after 2 years, seeds produced per plant after 2 years), and that the question (what can be said when comparing hand-planted and ant-planted seeds) corresponds to the column labels on Table 3. In other words, all you have to do to find the answer is find which answer choice correctly matches one of the rows. And that would be answer choice A; according to the table 39 ant-planted seeds germinated, whereas only hand-planted seeds germinated.

Now that you’ve seen the power of using tables, go ahead and see if you can answer the second question on your own! All the information you need to answer is on Table 1.

*Explanation for second question: **The correct answer is C. Both species have elaisome masses of 6.2, so their masses of such are the same.*

Stay tuned to next week for a second step to this strategy! See you next Monday!

*For more tips on acing the ACT and getting into the most competitive universities in the nation, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!*

By *Rita Pearson*

The post The Science Behind the ACT Science Test: Part 1 appeared first on Veritas Prep Blog.

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