ACT Prep: Overcoming Progress Plateaus
When it comes to ACT Test Prep, it’s always rewarding to see progress being made toward reaching your goal score. However, nothing is more frustrating than putting in long hours of study and hard work only to hit a plateau.
While this may hinder your motivation, progress plateaus are part of the process. But sometimes seeing progress isn’t about the work you’re putting in.
Read on to find out the major reason ACT Prep students see a pause in their progress, and what you can do to overcome the dreaded progress plateau!
What is a progress plateau?
A progress plateau is when you’ve been seeing gains in your score over time that all of a sudden stop.
Progress plateaus may last for weeks, which can be quite disheartening when you’ve been putting in the work to reach your goals. Unfortunately, progress plateaus may inspire students to give up on their prep work, especially if they increase their prep after they notice the plateau, only to see no improvement.
SAT vs. ACT: The Reality of Progress Plateaus
To make our point about progress plateaus, let us compare scoring scales for the SAT vs. ACT. Due to the grading scale for ACT, it’s harder to see gains, whereas it’s easier to see gains during SAT Prep.
For example, the SAT is broken down into two sections: Math and English, which are graded on a scale from 200 to 800, then combined to create a composite score ranging from 400 to 1600.
On the other hand, the ACT is broken down into four sections: English, Reading, Math, and Science, which are each graded on a scale of 1 to 36. Then, those scores are averaged together for a composite score also between 1 and 36, a much smaller scale than the SAT grading scale. Because of this difference in scale, students don’t see their improvements quantified in their ACT score as frequently.
Therefore, if a student’s composite SAT score makes a considerable jump from a 1450 to 1490, their equivalent composite ACT score would stay at a 33, which, on a numerical scale, does not show the improvement that they’ve made over time. This illusion of stagnation can often demotivate students, as they may seem stuck at a single score or increase in score very slowly, despite their continued efforts.
For this reason, ACT Prep requires resilience and patience. Students must resist discouragement by reading their score reports with a thorough and critical eye, and identifying places where they can improve.
How to Overcome a Progress Plateau
As you prepare for the ACT, it’s important to know that progress plateaus, while frustrating, won’t last forever, as long as you continue to put into the effort.
At MEK, we believe that small successes over time lead to big results later on. So, what can you do to make it through a progress plateau and stay motivated during your test prep journey?
1. Aim for a goal score that makes sense for your needs.
You may think that aiming for a perfect score on the ACT is what you should be doing. However, a perfect score on the ACT is not necessarily a good score for what you’re trying to achieve.
Your goal score should be based on a combination of your current ACT score and the average score for the colleges and universities to which you are applying.
In this case, perfect isn’t always better, especially if you are starting on the lower end of the scoring scale. Click here to read more about what makes a good ACT score.
2. Study your score reports with a critical eye.
We said it before, but we feel it bears repeating. One of the best places to start when experiencing a progress plateau is with your score report. Score reports will help you break down areas where you are weak or struggling. Once you identify those areas, you can create a study plan to turn them into strengths.
3. Create a strategic and comprehensive study plan.
Reaching your goal score and breaking through a progress plateau takes discipline and strategy. Every time you sit down to study, which should be about 20-30 minutes every day, you need to have an objective or purpose for that session.
Maybe one session is focused on strengthening your weakness in answering a specific question type on the Reading Section. And maybe the next day’s focus is on reviewing the Science Section for an older test.
Every study session should have a purpose and should be a mixture of learning new material, as well as reviewing old assignments and tests. This way you can reflect and self-assess in order to plan out where you need to improve.
4. Make the most of your ACT Prep classes.
One major way to show up for your prep practice and to stay motivated is to really take advantage of your ACT Prep courses.
Your instructor will be able to guide you through progress plateaus by assigning specific assignments and exercises geared to your specific needs.
Also, being engaged during class is essential. Take notes, participate, and ask questions. The more you engage with the instructor and the material, the more you will get out of the course and the more meaningful your independent study sessions will be.
How MEK Can Help You on Your ACT Journey
Looking to start or continue your ACT Prep journey? MEK has the programs that will help you get results.
ACT Connect by MEK Review
Our ACT Connect Program is a new, innovative answer to ACT Prep. The program combines self paced lectures with quality materials and ACT simulation tests.
ACT Connect works by:
- Complete the lecture assignments before watching the lecture videos
- Attend the weekly live Q&A sessions
- Review past lectures frequently
- Fill out the questionnaires at each checkpoint to assess their progress
For students who require more step-by-step guidance, we recommend supplementing their ACT Connect experience with tutoring sessions, to set up a study schedule, build study habits, and give them solid direction.
Click here to register for ACT Connect! You can register for an account directly on the site, and click Enroll to choose the package that is right for you. You can read about our different packages here.
After you enroll, you will be notified via email within two (2) business days regarding your access into the site. After you receive this email, you can get started on your test prep right away!
ACT Private Test Prep Tutoring
We also offer ACT Private Test Prep Tutoring for students who want a hands-on approach to test prep. Your expert instructor will create an individualized program based on your current skill level, goal score, and learning needs.
Let MEK help you get amazing results!