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Nashville students work to improve ACT scores

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Thirty-one Nashville High School students completed ACT school last Friday.

By John R. Schirmer
News-Leader staff

Summer vacation officially began last Saturday afternoon for 31 Nashville High School students who attended ACT school for two weeks and took the college-entrance exam Saturday morning.

The students will be juniors or seniors when school starts in August.

“Our ACT summer prep program is very successful, and every year we see many students raise their scores,” according to director Holly Couch. “This is due to the expertise and planning of our excellent teachers; we are committed to the success of the program and put in many hours studying the test and finding the best techniques to help students. We love nothing more than seeing our students’ higher scores a few weeks later. Mostly, however, it is due to the hard work and positive attitudes of the students.”

The program “is a long, grueling two weeks, and it’s hard for students to stay energized when summer has already begun for many of their friends,” Couch said. “We reinforce to our students that their attitudes toward the review and the test will largely determine the increase they will see in their scores. I tell them, ‘You will get out of this review what you put into it: nothing more – nothing less.’ These students have worked very hard, so we are hoping for another successful outcome for our kids.”

The faculty includes the following:

Holly Couch – English, director. Couch has taught ACT prep for 19 years and has directed it for 13 years.

Fran Strawn – Reading. She has taught ACT prep for 16 years.

Aleshia Erwin – Math. She has taught in the program for seven years.

Scott Horne – Science. He has taught in the program for 10 years.

Students attend all day for two weeks and are divided into four groups. These groups rotate each morning and afternoon, so that students have daily review in all four areas.

“We also review test-taking and time management skills,” Couch said. “On four days during the two-week period, students take an actual practice ACT exam in the morning. Teachers score the test, and the students analyze their results with their teachers that afternoon. We think this is a crucial aspect in preparing students for the actual test day, as well as helping them to see their scores rise.”

Students have intense practice in the four areas tested on the ACT, Couch said. Because the prep is “so limited in scope, students can focus on those points that they can correct in order to see marked improvement in their scores. In many cases, students can correct a few mistakes they are making over and over, and this can cause their scores to dramatically improve.”

The ACT was given nationally June 10, the day after the end of the session. “Therefore, the information is fresh on their minds, and they have the best chance of making a good score on that day,” Couch said.