Welcome to the Louisville Free Public Library



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Welcome to the Louisville Free Public Library

  • ACT Strategy & Practice Sessions

About the ACT

  • College entrance exam.
  • 5 part test: English, Math, Reading, Science reasoning, and Writing.
  • Passing composite score =18 on a scale of 1-36.
  • Last year, juniors in Kentucky scored an average of 18.3 on the ACT. Seniors scored 20.9. The national average is 21.1.
  • Lower than National Average.

Why should you care about the ACT?

  • The higher the score, the more KEES (KY Education Excellence Scholarship) money you make! You’ll receive that $$ each year you are in college!
  • Good health — College graduates are generally healthier than their non-college peers, smoking less and eating better.
  • Students who attend college graduates make more money over the course of their careers.

Take the ACT Challenge!

  • The test is difficult, therefore a good opportunity to show what you can do.
  • Develop a study plan given the amount of time you have to study and stick to it.
  • Kaplan. ACT Premier Program. New York: Kaplan, 2007.

3 Keys to Success

  • Learn the test.
  • Learn the strategies.
  • Learn the material tested.
  • Kaplan. ACT Premier Program. New York: Kapllan Publishing, 2007 ed

Learn the Test

  • Know the directions.
  • Know difficulty range of questions.
  • Don’t know the answer? Guessing is your last resort and best option! You will not be penalized for wrong answers.

ACT Logistics

  • Math 60 questions - 60 min.
  • Science 40 questions - 35 min.
  • Reading 40 questions - 35 min.
  • English 75 questions - 45 min.
  • Writing 1 essay prompt - 30 min.

Learn the strategies

  • Use a plan of attack for each subject test.
  • Learn unofficial ways of getting right answers fast. Know what to expect.
  • Practice weak skill areas (using Learning Express Library to find weak areas).
  • Monitor time.
  • If time is running out, fill in most logical guess.
  • Letter of the Day.
  • Mark up your test booklet.
  • Reword the questions in a form you can understand.

Learn Material Tested

  • Read graphs, tables, and use formulas.
  • Pay attention to the types of questions that appear most frequently.
  • Practice skill areas that cause trouble.

ACT Practice Tests FREE with your Library Card

  • Go to http://www.lfpl.org/research/Subjects/TestPreparation.asp Click Learning Express Library (LEL).
  • Log in from home using your library card and password.
  • Want more help? Come to one of our library programs on the LEL. We can help you prepare for the ACT! Or you can check out the tutorial on our website for easy instructions any time: http://www.lfpl.org/teen/pdf/act-tutorial.pdf

ACT Strategies

  • Reading

Read to Answer, Not to discuss

  • This sounds like advice that you won’t get from your teachers. You won’t. The ACT is a test that does not require you to retain or discuss the information afterwards. You are only getting fragments of the story. You are already missing the context that might make the passage more understandable. Read to answer the questions, not to think about the passage.

“It is further noteworthy that the terrestrial vertebrate’s most significant muscles of movement are no longer located lateral to the vertebral column as they are in the fish, but rather in ventral and dorsal relation to it. This trend in terrestrial evolution is highly significant and means that the terrestrial vertebrate’s principal movements are fore and back, not side to side” Cracking the ACT, p242.

  • “It is further noteworthy that the terrestrial vertebrate’s most significant muscles of movement are no longer located lateral to the vertebral column as they are in the fish, but rather in ventral and dorsal relation to it. This trend in terrestrial evolution is highly significant and means that the terrestrial vertebrate’s principal movements are fore and back, not side to side” Cracking the ACT, p242.
  • This makes very little sense without the context. You are not reading to retain, but to answer the questions.

Pick the Easiest Passages to Read First!!!

  • You will probably run out of time. Thinking takes time. Pick the passages that are easiest for you, that way you get the easy and correct answers on paper early and when you are forced to guess, can guess on the hard questions.

Four types of passages

  • Four types of passages
  • Prose: Fiction passages concerned with the who, what, when, where and why. You will have to infer character motivations.
  • Social Science and Humanities : could be anything from an essay by Mark Twain to an authors view on religion. You will make inferences, but also have to pay attention to details.
  • Natural Science: is all about the details. You will have to make very few inferences, but pick specific details from the passage.

Watch for Disguised Answers

  • The ACT creators reword or paraphrase items that may confuse you when you are just scanning a text. Now that you know this, you can pay attention and watch for phrases that mean the same thing, but are worded differently.
    • E.g. allocate instead of distributing
      • Burdens and benefits instead of gifts and penalties
      • Merit instead of deserves

Disguising the answer

  • The library began the distribution of Power Plus cards to all Jefferson County Public School students.
    • Which sentence best summarizes the above statement:
    • A) The library allocated cards to JCPS students.
    • B) The library gave cards to everyone.
    • C) The library distributed cards to all students in Jefferson County.
    • D) The library received cards from JCPS students.

Watch for Distracters

  • The creators are really good at making wrong answers look right. Watch out for the 4 common distracting techniques used by the ACT.
  • Deceptive Answers -answers that use the words and phrases taken directly from the passage.
  • Switches- Taking the truth and turning it around.
  • Extremes- always, invariably, or never are extreme words that rarely apply to real life situations. You should be suspicious, very very suspicious.
  • Choices that sound too “nice”-they may seem reasonable and sensible, but may not apply to the actual passage.

Which answer choices use distracters?

  • The library began the distribution of Power Plus cards to all Jefferson County Public School students.
    • Which sentence best summarizes the above statement:
    • A) The library allocated cards to JCPS students.
    • B) The library gave cards to everyone.
    • C) The library distributed cards to all students in Jefferson County.
    • D) The library received cards from JCPS students.

Distracters, cont’d. Deception

  • Tom loves going to the movies with Mary”
  • According to this statement, which of the following is true regarding Tom and Mary?
  • Tom fell in love with Mary at the movies.
  • Tom enjoys viewing motion pictures with Mary as his companion
  • Tom and Mary generally enjoy seeing movies about love
  • Both Tom and Mary love going to the movies
  • A, C, and D all use words directly from passage. They’re all wrong! Answer B is correct, just in camouflage
  • (Cracking the Act, p 253)

Switches

  • Professor Thorne generally explains a technological discovery first in terms of its history and then in terms of the science upon which it was founded.
  • Professor Thorne generally explains a technological discovery first in terms of the science on which it was founded, and then in terms of its history.
  • These two statements say the same thing, in opposite order. This is the basic idea behind a switch.

Extremes

  • Extremes are usually wrong because they are debatable.
    • For examples: Patients who are chronically depressed never enjoy their lives.
    • Never? Ever? That would be pretty hard to prove.
    • Extreme words to watch for: always, invariably, never, completely, perfectly, absolutely.

Skim and Scribble

  • By reading the passage quickly and identifying main points, you will be able to spend more time actually answering the questions rather than reading and rereading the passage.
  • Use only one or two words to identify a theme for the passage.

Skim and Scribble

  • IF we were to start fresh in the study of sculpture or any art we might observe that the record is largely filled by works of relatively few great contributors. Next to the influences of these great geniuses, time periods themselves are of little significance. The study of art and art history are properly directed to the achievements of outstanding individual artists, not the particular decades or centuries in which any may have worked.
  • Artists and period

Skim and Scribble

  • Nonetheless, when we study art in historical perspective we select a convenient frame of reference through which diverse styles and talents are to be compared. Hence we write in “movements” and attempt to understand each artist in terms of the one to which he “belongs.” Movements have limited use, but we should not talk of realism, impressionism, cubism or surrealism as though they genuinely had lives of their own to which the artist was answerable. We regard the movement as the governing force and the artist as its servant. Yet it is well to remember that the movements do not necessarily present themselves in orderly chronological series and the individual artist frequently weaves her way into one and out of another over the course of a single career.
  • Movements

Trigger Words

  • Indicate a change in the authors direction.
  • Watch for these words as a way to signal what path the passage is taking.
  • despite, however, in spite of, on the contrary, nonetheless, on the other hand, yet, notwithstanding, but, ironically, rather, unfortunately, therefore, hence, consequently

Process of Elimination

  • Always cross out wrong answers first.
  • Utilize these tips to help weed out wrong answers.
  • Use your best judgment; the answer is not always apparent, and its up to you to find the best answer.

Answer in Groups

  • A single passage will have multiple questions associated with it.
    • Answer the questions that belong to the passage on the test booklet.
    • THEN
    • Go back and fill the answers in the grid.

ACT Math Test

  • 33 Algebra (14 pre algebra, 10 elementary algebra, 9 intermediate algebra)
  • 24 Geometry (14 plane geometry, 9 coordinate geometry)
  • 4 Trigonometry

Tips

  • You are allowed to use a calculator but none of the questions REQUIRE a calculator.
  • Use your logic. Solve the problem quickly in your head and eliminate answers that are far fetched.
    • 3x +2000 = 5000
      • What is X?
        • A)2
        • B)10
        • C)100
        • D)1000

Use the Same Processes

  • Triage (Easy, Medium, Difficult)
  • POE (Process of Elimination)-
    • Some answers will just be logically wrong, eliminate these answers first.

My answer isn’t there! What do I do?

  • There are three possibilities:
    • You misread or misunderstood the question. Reread the question carefully. Be sure that you answer the question that was asked.
    • You made a mistake in the solution of the problem. Quickly review your steps, looking for errors. Perhaps your answer is equivalent to one of the choices by a simple manipulation. (fractions vs. decimals).
    • You solved the problem correctly, and the correct answer is “None of the above.”

Red Herrings

  • Avoid Red Herrings-Several questions will contain extra information that is not necessary to solve the problem. You need to distinguish important information from fillers. Almost all the questions will have only the information needed, but if you have a number that doesn’t seem to fit in anywhere, it probably doesn’t, it’s a red herring.
    • The Latin club decided to hold a bake sale to raise money. Their goal was to raise $50 for a school dance. They sold 25 cupcakes at 50 cents a piece and 20 brownies at $1 a piece. Mary bought 4 cupcakes and 3 brownies to give to her cousins. Tom thought this was silly.
    • How much money did they raise?

Tackle the questions with logic

  • Underline what the question is really asking.
  • Figure out the question piece by piece.
  • Don’t read the whole question again-you are not doing the whole problem at once, but piece by piece.
  • Reread your underlined sections to make sure you answered all parts of the question.

Lets work through one problem

  • Each member in a club had to choose an activity for a day of volunteer work. 1/3 of the members chose to pick up trash. ¼ of the remaining members chose to paint fences. 5/6 of the members without tasks chose to clean school buses. The rest of the members chose to plant trees. If the club has 36 members, how many chose to plant trees?
  • F)3
  • G) 6
  • H) 9
  • J)12
  • K)15

Each member in a club had to choose an activity for a day of volunteer work. 1/3 of the members chose to pick up trash. ¼ of the remaining members chose to paint fences. 5/6 of the members without tasks chose to clean school buses. The rest of the members chose to plant trees. If the club has 36 members, how many chose to plant trees?

  • Each member in a club had to choose an activity for a day of volunteer work. 1/3 of the members chose to pick up trash. ¼ of the remaining members chose to paint fences. 5/6 of the members without tasks chose to clean school buses. The rest of the members chose to plant trees. If the club has 36 members, how many chose to plant trees?
  • 1/3 of 36 =12

Each member in a club had to choose an activity for a day of volunteer work. 1/3 of the members chose to pick up trash. ¼ of the remaining members chose to paint fences. 5/6 of the members without tasks chose to clean school buses. The rest of the members chose to plant trees. If the club has 36 members, how many chose to plant trees?

  • Each member in a club had to choose an activity for a day of volunteer work. 1/3 of the members chose to pick up trash. ¼ of the remaining members chose to paint fences. 5/6 of the members without tasks chose to clean school buses. The rest of the members chose to plant trees. If the club has 36 members, how many chose to plant trees?
  • We want ¼ of the remaining members…not of the original 36!
  • If 12 people are already picking up trash, we know there are 24 remaining.
  • ¼ of 24=6 people.
  • SO now we have 12 picking up trash and 6 painting fences.

Each member in a club had to choose an activity for a day of volunteer work. 1/3 of the members chose to pick up trash. ¼ of the remaining members chose to paint fences. 5/6 of the members without tasks chose to clean school buses. The rest of the members chose to plant trees. If the club has 36 members, how many chose to plant trees?

  • We have 12 people picking up trash, and 6 painting fences, so we are left with 18 people.
  • 5/6*18=15
  • 15 people are cleaning up school buses

Each member in a club had to choose an activity for a day of volunteer work. 1/3 of the members chose to pick up trash. ¼ of the remaining members chose to paint fences. 5/6 of the members without tasks chose to clean school buses. The rest of the members chose to plant trees. If the club has 36 members, how many chose to plant trees?

  • If we add up all that we have figured out---
    • 12 people picked up trash
    • 6 people painted fences
    • 15 people cleaned school buses
    • How many do we have left that chose to plant trees?

Practice, Practice, Practice

  • The only way to truly understand math is to work out lots and lots of problems. Use the LEL database or borrow an ACT strategy book from the library to find lots of practice math questions.

ACT Science Strategy 35 minutes- 40 questions

  • There are 7 passages followed by 5-7 questions.
  • 3 passages involve reading charts and graphs, 3 science experiments, and 1 fighting scientists.
  • The questions fall into 3 types: Look up the answer (understanding), Why? (analysis), and What if? (generalization)

Strategy for all ?’s

  • Scan the passage
    • What type of passage is it?
    • Charts and Graphs =5 questions
    • Experiments=6 questions
    • Fighting Scientists=7 questions
  • Identify the question type
    • Understanding, Analysis, or generalization?
      • Remember to watch out for distracters in the answers.

Tips for Science

  • Group your questions like you did in the reading section.
  • You don’t have to be a science genius or even really know science principles to do well. The answers can be found in the passages.
  • Learn to read charts, graphs, tables and research summaries to extract information.
  • Look for patterns in the numbers that appear. Do the numbers get bigger or smaller? Where are the highest and lowest numbers? The patterns will help you answer the questions.
  • You won’t be calculating numbers as much as thinking about they mean.

3 steps for science

  • Pre-read the passage (skim)
    • Once again, its crucial that you skim to understand the gist of what is going on.
  • Consider the questions carefully
    • Pay attention to what the question is really asking.
    • Go back to the passage and get an idea of what the answer should be before looking at your choices.
  • Read and Refer to the passage
    • Use the information provided to answer the question. The pre-read has given you an idea, but referring back to the passage will help you answer the question correctly.

Opposites

  • Be careful not to assume a passage is going in a certain direction – often the difference between a correct and incorrect answer will be a “decrease” where an “increase” should be.
  • Look for words like “not” and “except” in the questions.
  • So…PAY ATTENTION!

Strategy cont….

  • Triage
    • Answer the easiest questions first.
  • Guesstimate
    • If you come up with a rough answer in your head, it will make the right answer easier to identify.
  • Use Process of Elimination
    • Spend time on the answers that might be right, not the answers you know are wrong.
  • Pace yourself.
  • The answer is in the problem….you just have to find it!

Table Chart Sample 1

  • The following data table represents the population of both wolves and deer during the years 1955–1980 in a given area.
  • In the question below, you’ll need to look carefully at the question and the answers to solve it.
  • Question: Which answer signifies the greatest difference in wolf population?
  • A. 1955–1960
  • B. 1960–1975
  • C. 1955–1975
  • D. 1975–1980
  • 1955
  • 52
  • 325
  • 1960
  • 68
  • 270
  • 1965
  • 75
  • 220
  • 1970
  • 60
  • 210
  • 1975
  • 45
  • 120
  • 1980
  • 49
  • 180
  • Wolves Deer

Experiments

  • Spot the objective of the study.
  • Follow the procedure.
  • Identify the variables.
  • Study the results.
  • Linear Graphs
  • -300 -200 -100 0 200 300 Temp
  • 50
  • 10
  • 0
  • 30
  • 20
  • 40
  • Vol.

Fighting Scientists

  • Identify the disagreement.
  • What is the main point of each hypothesis?
  • Are there assumptions of each argument?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of each scientist’s argument?

ACT Strategies

  • ENGLISH

ENGLISH BASICS

  • The English test measures how well you understand conventions of standard written English in 5 separate passages.
  • Portions of each passage are underlined. You must decide whether they are correct as written or whether one answer choice is better.
  • 75 questions to answer in 45 minutes.

Written vs. Spoken.

  • The English being tested often sounds more formal than what we hear spoken every day. Resist the impulse to pick the first answer that sounds right.
  • Example:
  • The shovel is an extension of your senses, your muscles, and thinking. Which of the following changes, if any, should be applied to the underlined section?  
  • A NO CHANGE 
  • B your thoughts 
  • C careful thinking 
  • D thinking carefully 

Written vs. Spoken

  • It is a special kind of feeder, if you will, with narrow slots so only small birds such as finches can get at the thistle seeds inside.
  • Which of the following changes, if any, should be applied to underlined section?   
  •       
  • A.NO CHANGE   
  • B. of feeder if you will, with   
  • C. of feeder if you will with   
  • D. of feeder with

Pick the Easiest Passages to Read First!!!

  • You will probably run out of time. Thinking takes time. Skim the passages first; finding the ones that are easiest for you to understand. This way, you get the easy and correct answers on paper early and when you are forced to guess, can guess on the hard questions.

Process of Elimination

  • Always cross out wrong answers first.
  • Utilize these tips to help weed out wrong answers.
  • Use your best judgment. The answer is not always apparent and its up to you to find the correct answer.

Look for Clues

  • The answer choices may reveal what the question is testing, i.e. use of pronouns, punctuation, or sentence structure.
  • This will exert a democratizing effect on nations of the world because many special interest groups and ruling elites will find their power diminished when those can no longer control the flow of information.
  • 41. Which of the following changes, if any, should be applied to underlined section?    
  • A. NO CHANGE   
  • B. they   
  • C. he   
  • D. their

More than 1 thing wrong

  • Pay close attention to the differences in the answer choices.
  • Example: After the flash went off with a loud “pop,” the bulb’s plastic coating would burble and crinkle and then turn dark gray, so it could always be told if the bulb had been used.
  • Which of the following changes, if any, should be applied to second underlined section?    
  • A. NO CHANGE   
  • B. I could always tell    
  • C. it could be told, always,   
  • D. I could always be told

NO CHANGE

  • Good Tip: “No change” is rarely a correct answer (less than ¼ of the time). Most likely it will be one of the other answers to the question.
  • After the flash went off with a loud “pop,” the bulb’s plastic coating would burble and crinkle and then turn dark gray, so it could always be told if the bulb had been used.
  • Which of the following changes, if any, should be applied to first underlined section?    
  • A. NO CHANGE   
  • B. “pop.”  The   
  • C. “pop” noise, the   
  • D. pop.  The

OMIT THE UNDERLINED

  • When you look at the underlined bit of the passage, and remove a large section of it (like in answer “D”), this turns out to be correct a little less than half the time it appears. So keep that choice as a good option for answering correctly.
  • I still have those first pictures tucked away among my treasures, which are things that are valuable only to me, reminders of a gift that forever changed the way I go about perceiving the world.
  • Which of the following changes, if any, should be applied to first underlined section?   
  •  A. NO CHANGE   
  • B. treasures which are things that are valuable only to me   
  • C. treasures which are valuable   
  • D. treasures,

Watch for common grammar traps

  • Trap 1: It and They
    • Singulars vs. Plurals
      • Make sure everything in the sentence matches. If the noun or pronoun is singular, then all other pronouns should match.
          • Sentence: If a dog won’t sit, they cannot be trained.
          • Problem: DOG is singular, but THEY is plural
          • Solution: If dogs won’t sit, they cannot be trained
          • OR
          • Solution: If a dog won’t sit, he cannot be trained.

Misunderstood Punctuation

  • Period (.) Means full stop or end of sentence.
  • Question Mark (?) Serves the same purpose as a period, but for questions.
  • Exclamation Mark (!) can be used instead of a period, but is uncommon for all but very informal writing because it shows EXTREME emotion!
  • Comma (,) represents a pause. In many cases a comma is optional. But never use a comma where a pause would be confusing, as in “The Outpost, opens its doors, today.”
  • Colon (:) works like an equals sign, connecting two equivalent things. Colons are usually used to begin a list.
  • Dash (-) can be used for any kind of pause, usually a long one or indicate a significant shift in thought. “Wait just a minute - I’m thinking.”
  • Semicolon (;) used to separate two complete, but closely related thoughts. “I love semicolons; they are amazing.”

Words that sound the same

  • Its vs. It’s
      • It’s is a contraction for IT IS.
      • Its shows possession.
      • It’s a beautiful day. (It is a beautiful day).
      • The library opened its doors. (The doors belong to the library).
      • Every time you see an apostrophe in the word it’s, read the sentence saying “it’s” as “it is”.
        • Does the sentence still make sense?

More confusing words

    • Are is a verb
    • Our is possessive
    • They’re means they are
    • Their indicates possession
    • There indicates a place
    • Are they going to our party?
    • They’re going to their party over there.

Confusing comparisons

  • Less and Fewer
    • Make sure that you use the word “less” only for uncountable items. When things can be counted you use “fewer”.
      • I have less dough than I thought, so I can bake fewer loaves of bread.
  • Between and Among
    • Use between when there are only two objects and among when there are more than two objects being compared.
      • I walked between Kate and Kerry.
      • I walked among friends.

Writing Essay

  • There are three major areas of an ACT response that gain students points:
    • the quality of ideas
    • the structure of the essay
    • the correctness of the writing
  • Each of these areas needs to be in place in a good ACT response for the essay to receive a high score.

Writing Essay

  • The ACT will give you two prompts for the writing essay: school-based prompt or a community- based prompt.
  • Choose only ONE prompt and begin to plan your attack.
  • Each prompt consists of 4 ingredients:
    • Situation
    • Two proposals
    • Criterion (basis) for judgment
    • Audience

Example of Writing Essay Prompt

  • Your community has received a large grant from the federal government to assist men and women in getting jobs. Two proposals for using the money have been made. One proposal is to teach computer skills to members of the community who are looking for a job. The other proposal is to provide daycare for parents with young children. There is enough money to fund only one of these proposals, so a decision must be made. The city council will base its decision on which of the proposals will benefit the community as a whole. Write a letter to your city council in which you argue for teaching computer skills or for providing daycare, explaining how your choice will benefit the community.
  • Example from: John Jay College Writing Center. For more details, visit: http://web.jjay.cuny.edu/~writing/Writing%20the%20ACT%20Essay.pdf

Writing Essay

  • Hamburger writing process
    • Top bun : Introduction. Address the audience.
      • Dear Mr. _____
    • Ingredients :
      • The “cheese” - background information
      • Ketchup, mustard and a pickle - supportive details
      • The “meat” - your argument or proposal
    • Bottom bun : Conclusion

Writing Essay

  • For more assistance in acing the writing portion of the ACT exam, visit this website for great details:
    • http://www.qcc.cuny.edu/BasicSkills/Strategies_Acing_ACT_Writing_files/frame.htm

How do I combat Test Anxiety?

  • On the day of the test make sure you eat a healthy breakfast and have at least 8 hours of sleep the night before.
    • Avoid sugar and caffeine!
  • Relax the morning of the exam; don’t try to cram in more information, you’ve already learned everything you are going to know.
  • Get some exercise a few days before the test. A walk or working out helps reduce stress.

Combat Test Anxiety

  • Breathing techniques
  • Muscle group relaxation
  • Get comfortable in your chair
  • Chew gum to distract your anxiety.
  • Positive Thinking!!! You will be fine 
  • Practice, Practice, Practice!

The Louisville Free Public Library Wishes the best success on the ACT!



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