How the ACT Can Help Guide Your Student’s College Search - Chicago Moms Network

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It’s been a tough year for high school juniors and seniors. Between last-minute changes to test dates and uncertainty about what college will look like next year, it can be challenging to locate the right resources to help students figure out what they want to do next.


But that doesn’t mean that the guidance they need isn’t out there. Academic Approach* can help your student get their college search off the ground and boost their test scores, skills, and confidence through one-on-one tutoring and school programs. Whatever your background, it’s our goal to empower students, beyond their standardized test scores.


Our program is grounded in a deep understanding of the importance of an ACT score in the college admissions process – for admissions committees and for your student. Here’s what you need to know about how to make the most of your student’s ACT score this year.


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How Colleges Typically Use Test Scores

It may surprise you to hear this from a company that tutors students to help them improve their standardized test scores, but ACT results are only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to a college application.

The conventional wisdom around the importance of test scores in college admissions is that they’re simply not as important as the rest of a student’s academic record. GPA tends to be more important, and patterns in grades over the course of a student’s high school career can reveal more information about who that student will be on a college campus.

The ACT provides admissions committees with affirmation of an applicant’s academic abilities. Afterall, the test was designed to help measure what a student has learned in high school, not how smart they are.

Your student’s test score tells colleges where they’re starting out: it’s a ballpark estimate of whether a student will be a good fit for the college’s academic rigor. Knowing that this is how schools use these scores, your student can get more out of the preparation experience and the data they deliver.


How Your Student Can Use Test Scores to Guide Their Search

With a test score in hand, your student can begin to narrow down their search. A guidance counselor or academic advisor can help your student consider their score in comparison with those of past students who were admitted to colleges and universities that may be of interest.

Of course, if your student finds themself looking at institutions that tend to admit those with higher test scores, their search may be reshaped by a new test preparation strategy.

Rather than feeling like a verdict on whether your high schooler is worthy of admission to the school of their dreams, encourage them to look at their ACT experience as a checkpoint: are they on track for the future they want? If not, there’s still time to amp up their academic engagement.


What to Know about the Growing “Test Optional” Trend

A recent count found that 1,600 colleges and universities are now test optional as of this September, but this trend isn’t entirely new. Last year, the University of Chicago announced that they would not require applicants submit standardized tests, and the discussion about why this elite institution made the move has been robust to say the least.

Perhaps especially in the midst of a pandemic that has disrupted test dates and student schedules, if a student can submit a strong test score that will bolster their application, it’s likely to have the intended effect.

In a time when in-person testing may seem like an additional challenge to navigate with your student, the impact of test preparation may be calming. Getting your student on a study schedule with the guidance of an outside tutor can help them improve more than their standardized test scores and their college prospects – it can boost their confidence and provide a sense of direction that extends to their regular coursework.


Where to Begin Standardized Test Prep in 2020

If your junior is starting their college search this fall, they’re right on track. For seniors who are still struggling to figure out what to do next year, it may be time to find an outside resource who can help them get where they want to be on a timeline that works for your family.

Academic Approach offers free diagnostic tests and score review sessions. The score review session is a private one-on-one consultation with an Academic Approach Director who will help outline the best test fit, recommend a testing calendar, and identify immediate areas for improvement on the test.


To schedule a free diagnostic test and score review session, visit and find your local Academic Approach location.


*This is featured content is sponsored by our partner Academic Approach, Thank you! 

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