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ACT Prep Simplified: Crafting a School Program for ACT Prep

April 28, 2024

Anxious student studying for an important exam

Every high school wants to achieve an outstanding college admission rate. It’s vital for competitiveness — not to mention crucial for helping students fulfill their potential. 

The trouble is, ACT performance reached a 30-year low in 2023. The CEO of ACT even went so far as to share a “hard truth,” stating that schools “are not doing enough to ensure that graduates are truly ready for post-secondary success in college and career.” 

Achieving high ACT scores is no happy accident. The schools that see excellent results understand the notion of “fail to prepare, prepare to fail.” They actively invest in creating ACT prep programs that boost student confidence — and, of course, their scores. 

Why Is ACT Prep So Important For College Readiness?

Like the SAT, the ACT assesses high school students’ college readiness and general knowledge using a series of multiple-choice questions covering English, math, reading, and science. There is also an optional essay component. 

Because the ACT is specific in its structure and topic areas, students who take it without prior prep may achieve lower scores than they are capable of. This is because, first, students will be unfamiliar with the test layout, and second, the knowledge needed will not be at the forefront of their minds. 

That is why launching an ACT prep program and empowering your students to perform at their best is so important.

It’s also important to recognize that some students are anxious test takers. Prepping for a major standardized test like the ACT can familiarize students with the exam. Practice tests and prep may help them feel more at ease during the actual test — and better understand the instructions, leading to better outcomes.

It’s also crucial to remember that not all students can afford to invest in private, 1:1 ACT prep. For most students, this expensive tutoring simply isn’t an option. 

By offering an ACT prep course, you’ll level the playing field for your students, ensuring that everyone has the best chance of success.

How To Assess Your School’s ACT Prep Needs

There’s no one right way to deliver an ACT prep course. Whether you opt for in-person or online learning, self-paced video lessons, a live teacher, or big or small classes will depend on your budget and needs. Here are the key factors to consider: 

Evaluate Current Performance Data

First, look at your school’s ACT scores in the last few years to identify patterns. 

What areas did your students excel in? What were their weaknesses? It may be that your pupils generally achieved high reading scores, but math scores were low — or vice versa.

Gathering ACT score data will help you narrow down the focus of your ACT prep course so you can spend more time on the test areas where your students struggle. 

Survey Student and Parent Expectations

To help your students get the most out of their ACT prep course, it’s wise to ask them to set at least one goal for what they hope to achieve. This could improve their score in a specific subject area, reduce test anxiety, etc. 

Preparing and sending out a survey to students and parents can be a great way to encourage students to think about these goals and approach the program intentionally.

You can also use the survey to ask valuable questions about the course structure and format. For example, you could ask students whether they prefer online learning or in-person, large or small classes. 

Identify Resource Availability

Research shows that 86% of high schools struggle to hire qualified talent. The teacher shortage is often the biggest hindrance educational institutions face when attempting to roll out an ACT prep course. 

You may, for example, not have the staff available to create the course materials needed for program design and delivery — especially since the ACT exam is so specific. 

The good news is that thanks to modern technology, solutions like Elevate K-12 can take the burden of ACT course design and delivery off of your in-house teachers. 

Elevate K-12 can collaborate with you to develop a bespoke ACT prep course for your school, and our certified, highly qualified teachers can live-stream straight into your classrooms for delivery.

Steps To Design an ACT Prep Course for Students

Once you’ve completed the above steps, you can begin designing your ACT prep course internally or with a trusted partner. 

1. Develop the Curriculum

The ACT is divided into four key areas, with an optional essay. You’ll want your study schedule to cover each topic in detail so your students feel confident going into the test. However, boosting student knowledge is just the beginning. 

Because the ACT is unique in format, you’ll also want to equip your students with specific ACT prep tips and test-taking strategies. Be sure to cover things like proper pacing and time management and using the process of elimination. 

Remember to give your students plenty of opportunities to complete practice tests, too, so they become familiar with the exam environment. 

2. Select the Right Instructors

Leading students through the ACT prep course requires very specific expertise in the content and the test format. So, selecting the right instructor to maximize your students’ achievements is crucial. 

Unfortunately, ACT prep courses often market themselves as having experienced instructors when, in reality, these instructors are not qualified teachers. Instead, they’re simply ACT tutors. 

Schools should be careful of this caveat and actively look for instructors who are certified, experienced teachers. Such individuals will be better equipped to enhance student knowledge, adapt to different students’ needs, and confidently lead.

Of course, not all teachers are of the same caliber, so we advise working with an ACT and SAT program provider that proactively invests in regular training and coaching for their teachers. 

At Elevate K-12, our qualified teachers are official ACT prep and core instructors. We also empower them to grow and develop professionally through specially designed teacher training. On top of that, we provide ongoing feedback and coaching to help our ACT prep experts maximize their and their students’ potential. 

3. Integrate Practice Tests

Including regular full-length practice tests within your ACT prep course is essential. This will help students familiarize themselves with the test format, timing, and emotional pressures of undertaking the exam. 

In addition, you’ll also want to offer targeted feedback on practice questions. By showing students where they did well and where they need to improve, you’ll equip them with the knowledge they need to complete the test confidently. 

4. Offer Flexibility With the Schedule Options

Balancing school, work, hobbies, family and friends, and ACT prep can be challenging for students. To reduce anxiety and avoid overwhelming students before their test dates, it’s wise to offer various scheduling options. This way, students and their families can choose the times and formats that work best for them.

For example, you can offer after-school prep sessions, weekend workshops, or even summer school classes. While asking your in-house teachers to conduct these workshops might be difficult, ACT providers at Elevate K-12 can help.

We offer LIVE online classes for small groups and summer school with in-depth customization options. For example, you can adapt the class type, pace, format, and schedule based on your students’ needs. 

5. Use Technology and Online Resources

To boost learning retention, you must make your ACT prep course as engaging as possible. The best teachers blend modern and traditional practices that resonate with their students.

Technology will be a powerful resource here. Innovative learning tools like interactive quizzes, videos, and educational games can make answering ACT questions more fun and engaging. 

Tips for Improving the Success of the School’s ACT Prep Program 

Your ACT prep program is not something you should “set and forget” — continuous improvement and personalization are key to success. With that in mind, be sure to implement the following best practices once you’ve rolled out your program. 

Continuous Program Evaluation

Is your prep program helping students achieve better results? Are they enjoying the methods of study? Is it too fast or too slow? 

These are some questions you should seek to answer once you launch your program. You can establish a feedback loop with your students and instructors using surveys and practice test results.

The data you gain from this feedback will help you assess and refine the program so it’s even more effective at preparing students and improving test scores. 

Personalized Learning Paths

Some of your students may struggle with math, while others have difficulty with reading. Teaching them the same curriculum won’t maximize their chances of success. 

That’s why it’s crucial to develop customized study plans for each student based on their initial practice test results. By helping them understand the key areas to focus on and giving them the resources to improve, you’ll empower each student to perform their best on test day. 

Engaging Parents in the Process

Involving parents in the ACT prep process can be beneficial, as they can further support students at home.

There are several ways you can get parents involved. For example, you can share regular progress reports with students’ parents. You can also host 1:1 meetings to discuss each student’s progress, ACT practice test score improvements, and what they need to do to achieve their desired score increase.

Empower Students Through Effective ACT Preparation

An excellent ACT prep course can empower your students and set them on the right track for success — both on test day and throughout their college careers. By taking a personalized, flexible approach and enlisting highly qualified educators, you can ensure that your ACT prep classes deliver real results for your students.

At Elevate K-12, our small group tutoring and summer school ACT prep sessions are specifically designed to help students prepare for test day, college, and beyond. 

Our expert-led, personalized programs can help your students enhance their ACT performance, boost their self-confidence, and increase their overall college readiness — so they can step into the next phase of their lives with confidence. 

Ready to set your students up for success? Learn more about Elevate K-12’s small group tutoring solutions for ACT prep.

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