Preparing for college entrance exams isn’t all that different from perfecting skills in sports or music. It’s all about mastery and practice.
But frankly, there’s not much on the market designed to support do-it-yourselfer’s prepping specifically for the ACT, even though the ACT is now the most popular entrance exam in the US, having officially edged out the SAT in terms of tests taken last year.
Enter Applerouth Tutoring Services, an Atlanta-based education company, with a mission to help students at all levels prepare for admissions testing. Responding to a noticeable hole in the market, Jed Applerouth came up with the idea for Get Your ACT Together: The Fabulous Guide to the ACT, designed to be the “sister act” to the already popular Ready SAT Go: The Fabulous Guide to the SAT.
For this project, Applerouth’s team of tutors took the most effective strategies from private tutoring, applied them to the most current content being assessed by the ACT, and crafted a comprehensive and original manual for anyone aiming to maximize ACT scores.
And make no mistake. Parents and students are increasingly focused on the ACT. It’s not enough to tell them that mastery of high school curriculum is the best way to prepare for this exam. They want materials that both support understanding of the test and provide the kinds of targeted practice questions that result in improved scores.
But the folks in Iowa remain notoriously stingy about releasing old tests or updating the compilation of retired exams first published in 2007 (the 2011 Real ACT Prep Guide is essentially a reprint of the 2007 edition). At the same time, the test has become increasingly more challenging as the company aggressively enters the market for state-wide assessments.
And Applerouth found that by failing to update content in its official prep manuals, the ACT was doing a disservice to test-takers.
“Our students were regularly scoring 35’s and 36’s on the Official Guide tests, administered under controlled conditions,” commented Applerouth. “However, when our students went in for the official administrations, they’d bring home 31’s and 32’s. It was quite disheartening for our students who had effectively mastered all available testing material released by ACT, Inc.”
To tackle the problem, Applerouth and his staff studied the ACT. They amassed a collection of released tests going back nearly a decade, and Applerouth personally took seven of the last eight tests. Determined to model questions on those written by the ACT, Applerouth’s team familiarized themselves with the test writers—their language choices and nuances—and began constructing sample questions reflecting the most recent content.
“The idea was any student who could correctly answer every question in our book would be ready for a 36 on the official ACT,” Applerouth explained. “We did eliminate a good number of questions that have not been tested on the ACT in years. We wanted to be exhaustive, but include nothing that hasn’t been assessed in the last few years.”
They were so successful that one of the Applerouth tutor/writers was snatched away by ACT, Inc.!
The resulting volume is nearly 1000 pages long and embodies a great blend of visual presentation, humor, conversational language, and expert knowledge of the test. Get Your ACT Together easily surpasses the most current ACT-produced guide in terms of test-taking tips and practice materials—not to mention entertainment value.
“Apart from all the deep analysis and accuracy, we worked our tails off to make sure the book was fun, funny, and designed for visual learners,” concluded Applerouth. “We don’t have a major publishing house behind us, so essentially our book is the best-kept secret in the prep industry.”
Applerouth is okay with that for now. What matters most is that students are killing the ACT with the book as their primary tool. And by all accounts, that’s what’s happening.
“I just wanted you to know that my daughter was a guinea pig for your relatively new ACT prep book,” said one Charlotte-based independent consultant (and mom). “She went through it late this summer before taking the Oct ACT (her first) and scored a 35.”