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Recipes for Effective Literacy Instruction

ACT Prep


The ACT is used by some colleges as an admission requirement and by some districts as a placement exam for students interested in magnet options.  The test includes, along with Mathematics and Science Reasoning, three literacy-oriented sections: 1) "English," which addresses syntax/grammar and rhetorical skills and involves identifying and correcting errors in sentences;  2) Reading, in which students read various passages and answer multiple-choice comprehension questions; and 3) Writing, in which students respond to a persuasive essay prompt.

Below are some helpful links with ACT-specific test prep information.  You should also take a look at the following TLC pages:


ACT Test Prep Resources:

The ACT--This site enables students to register for the ACT and provides an overview of various essential resources related to the test.

ACT Test Prep--This site (part of the authorized ACT Website just mentioned) provides ACT test prep tips, including FREE sample questions and a sample writing prompt with sample scored essays.

To prepare students for the writing portion, keep in mind that PRE-WRITING is the key to success.  Students will only have 30 minutes to decipher the prompt and writing something coherent.  In the first 5 minutes, they should take the following steps:

  1. Identify the "PAT" (Policy, Audience, and Task).
  2. Create a T-chart listing 2-3 pros and cons related to the proposed policy.
  3. Select one side to defend.
  4. Identify one idea on the opposing side to shoot down (AKA "The Straw Man").  Students who complete these four steps will thus have a road map and be able to write steadily for most of the remaining time.

PS--Students should spend the last few minutes proof-reading.

For FREE practice on ACT test questions, check out Number2.com and/or ACT SparkNotes Online Test Prep and/or Test Prep Review and/or Union Test Prep-ACT.

"College Prep; SAT and ACT Test Preparation Tips and Resources": This is a very rich source of excellent tips and resources!  Many thanks to Samantha Pierce and her students at Coldbrook Charter School in PA for this recommendation!

A College Student’s Guide to Studying and Test Preparation: This Website covers note-taking tips, time management planning, how to deal with stress and anxiety, and so much more for studying and test preparation.  Thanks to Megan, a student who found this site, and her librarian, Mrs. Grace Coleman, who brought it to my attention.

"Classic Books: An SAT Reading List" : Many thanks to Paul, a student who found this site and recommended it (and thanks to Emily Merchant, his tutor, for the assistance)!

TO BUILD VOCABULARY: Verbal Workout (www.verbalworkout.com) is a tremendous resource, particularly for high school teachers (and parents) who want to help students strengthen their vocabulary.  It includes key vocabulary words (esp. SAT words) from many, many commonly-read texts and provides lists (sortable in various ways, such as by chapter or frequency) and quizzes. Moreover, it’s a great source to see lists of commonly-read texts, esp. if you are writing/revising curriculum:

--  Books Most Commonly Assigned in the 2011-12 HS Year According to a Renaissance Learning Survey

--  Books Most Commonly Read by High School Students (via Accelerated Reader)

--  Books Most Cited by AP Literature Open Response Questions Since 2000

--  College Board’s 101 Great Books Recommended for College-Bound Readers

PS--I recommend viewing the two brief (2-4 min.) video tutorials so you can see how to gain maximum benefit from this resource.  Then you’ll be on your way!  Many thanks to Jamie Sterlacci for this lead!

If you find any other FREE Web resources and would like to recommend them, please contact me at sarahtantillo@literacycookbook.com.  THANKS!

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