When my oldest son entered high school, I began the daunting task of looking at the costs of college tuition. Our local university was over $20,000 a year for tuition, room, and board. Private schools ranged from around $30,000 to $45,000 a year. I gulped. I worried. I sighed. What was the average family to do? How did people go to college these days without amassing large quantities of debt?
Through some providential circumstances, I was introduced to the concept of standardized test prep. At the time there was not a lot on the market that dealt specifically with ACT prep. Kaplan, The Princeton Review, McGraw-Hill and Barron’s all published ACT Study books; however, they did not quite hit the mark. Because it is illegal to republish “real” ACT tests, the test companies have done their best to recreate what they believe will be on the test. However, studying tests not created by the test maker is of limited help.
I did a lot of researching online before I began. I bought the “Red Book,” published by the ACT writers themselves, and got busy. I now had five real tests. I literally tore them apart from cover to cover and began to study them. I put them in sheet protectors, purchased dry erase markers, and began to take them over and over. I saw the same patterns repeated on each test. I saw the same mathematical and grammatical concepts tested again and again. These were STANDARDIZED tests. In order to be fair and consistent, each test would generally test the same information and skill set.
I began studying with my son when he was a Freshman. Every Saturday afternoon we would meet for 1 to 2 hours and work on standardized tests. We prepared for both the SAT and the ACT, but eventually found the ACT to be more straightforward and more to our liking. It was a journey of starts and stops, mishaps and successes. But it was a journey I will always cherish. Two weeks ago my son graduated from high school and will be attending college in the fall with a full tuition, merit based scholarship based solely on his ACT score.
I have two more kids and it’s time to do it again. My daughter will be a sophomore in the fall and we have plans to CRUSH the ACT. I have decided that educating my kids on standardized tests is my part time job. I would love for others to join us in the journey. I would love to encourage other families who are looking for merit scholarships. I would love to extend hope to students who want a future without debt. The future is bright.