In an age of seemingly never-ending achievement testing, many students have developed “test anxiety.”
One of the most important tests a student will face is a college entrance exam, specifically the ACT. To reduce anxiety and better prepare area youth for a future at college, Northeastern State University Continuing Education is offering a prep camp just in time for the next national testing date, Sept. 8.
“I don’t think parents realize they have to register to take the test by Friday, Aug. 17,” said NSU Coordinator of Continuing Education Debbie Amlin. “September 8 is test day, and if you register after Aug. 17, it comes with extra fees.”
NSU ACT prep camp will be held three times this fall: Sept. 4-6, Oct. 23-25 and Dec. 4-6. The camp is divided into three subject areas, and students may participate in one or all three areas. Cost is $30 per individual session, or $75 for all three, and subject areas include basic study skills and strategies, English and reading, and math and science.
“I really try to get the message out that the ACT score is one of the most important factors in the college admissions process,” said Amlin. “Students may not realize there is money for school available to them if they perform well.”
At NSU, students who not only perform well in high school – earning a 3.0 grade-point average and a cumulative ACT score of 20 or higher – can rack up a number of scholarships and tuition waivers. Awards range from a $1,780 tuition waiver for Freshman Scholars to $9,348 scholarship for Baccalaureate Scholars.
Amlin also believes it’s important for students to take the ACT early in their high school careers.
“We’re really hoping with these camps that students will consider taking the test their sophomore or junior year, rather than waiting until their senior year,” said Amlin. “I know my daughter wished she had done it that way.”
According to Amlin, through repetition and practice, students often lose some of the anxiety associated with standardized tests.
“After participating in the prep camp, they’ll know the test format, the time involved for each portion and will have gone over a number of example questions, so they’ll have a better idea of what to expect,” said Amlin. “I’ve been doing this since January, and last spring, 65 percent were able to raise their scores two to three points, which can make all the difference in the world.”
Amlin said students usually worry the most about the math section of the test.
“They worry it will have a lot of geometry, trigonometry and calculus questions, and by taking the sample tests, they learn it’s not that difficult,” said Amlin.
NSU Continuing Education student employees Matthew Farinelli, a junior, and Kendra Lizama, a senior, had very different experiences when taking the ACT.
“I took the ACT twice, once in 2002 and, I believe, again in 2004,” said Farinelli. “When I first took it, there were no prep camps or classes available, and I wish there would have been.”
Lizama, who helps Amlin with the English and reading section of the camps, said she was in one of the first ACT prep classes offered at Tahlequah High School.
“I was lucky I took the test immediately after taking the class,” said Lizama. “I felt that combination was absolutely beneficial in my making a good score.”
John Bratt, former Daily Press sports writer, now teaches high school in Oklahoma City. He asked his students to comment on Facebook about their experience with ACT preparation classes.
Bratt’s student, Maribel Martinez, believes the prep class helped her in a number of ways.
“Personally, I learned to manage my time and take out the two answers that didn’t quite make sense, and then narrow it down to the final two answers,” said Martinez. “Also, just reviewing over and over what type of questions would be on the ACT helped me become more confident in myself when it came time to take the test.”
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