Working with a Tutor to Improve Your ACT Score: How Big of a Jump is Reasonable?

Can working with a tutor help you do well on the ACT? It can, as long as you're willing to put in the effort.

Many students take the ACT and then find they want to retake it with the intent of improving their score. But unless you happened to be horribly ill or had some other major life event throw you off your game on test day, you probably can’t stick with the status quo—you need to change your test prep strategy if you want to raise your score.

Some students turn to a tutor for help in this endeavor; if that’s you, here you’ll find a breakdown of what your test prep plan of attack will entail, plus some insider tips on what (if anything) to expect in terms of a higher score.

It starts with taking a full-length practice exam in one sitting

This can be done using an ACT test prep book from any company. Remember, the composite ACT score is an average of all the scores, so it's important for a student to do their best on all sections. Once the student has their practice score, they should write down both the composite (average) score as well as a section score breakdown so they can see what their strengths and weaknesses are.

Share your score with your tutor

A tutor can provide a consultation regarding what areas of improvement are most needed and ask the student questions to determine their learning style and other academic goals. Tutoring should then commence, with the student signing up for the next available official ACT test, assuming it’s a minimum of six weeks from their tutoring start date.

Set a reasonable goal

If a student attends all of their tutoring sessions, participates in the assigned self-study, and is mentally alert and available during tutoring sessions, a reasonable score increase for the test would be one to two points.

Practice, practice, practice

Students should try to take a practice exam about once a month. But they should also take the advice of their tutor and follow the test prep plan they’ve developed together. There are no hard or fast rules in one-on-one tutoring. Some students will take an exam every week, while others will take one every six to eight weeks.

Although many students report that they would like to receive a 34–36 (36 being a perfect score), eventually each student will have reached their personal best. This is why practice tests are so valuable. If the student takes a practice test three times in a row three months apart and receives exactly the same score, this may be their personal best. It’s extremely difficult for students to receive scores between 34 and 36 on the ACT, so it's important for college prep students to discuss not only their goals but also their backup plan with their tutor. Test scores are just one of many factors in the admission decision, and many outstanding colleges and universities don’t even require test scores at all! It's important to set both a final goal and interim goals so that students can track their progress and stay positive throughout their college prep journey.

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