Glenwood students still testing well on ACT

Sept. 28, 2017

By Denise DuBois

Glenwood School has figured out a way to keep students’ ACT scores high: a scholars prep course and teachers who incorporate testing skills into everyday class work. The average ACT score at Glenwood is 21.3 whereas the state and national averages are 19.2 and 21, respectively. 

Tyler Horne and Trey Williams are two reflections of the school’s prep courses and teaching. 

Horne took the ACT for the first time as a freshman and scored a 25. He took it again as a sophomore and scored a 31. A perfect score is 36. He said he wanted to take it early to get a feel for the exam and set a pace for himself. 

“I was scared my freshman year. I was taking it with juniors and seniors and I felt overmatched. I felt better when I got my score,” he said. The second time he took the test, he was less nervous and set his aim at a 30. Surpassing that, he will aim for a perfect score as he continues to take the test. 

“The teachers prepared me really well,” he said. His parents also gave him ACT prep books. Horne said he will take the prep course when the time comes. 

Williams has a different story. He’s taken the ACT five times and is the student with the most improved score. The first time he took it, Williams scored a 22. He took the prep course and scored a 28, then a 29. He has also scored a 34 on the math portion. 

“I used to not be good at math, but our math teacher is really good,” Williams said.

Jaime Tillman, a counselor at Glenwood, said those individual subject scores are more important now as colleges begin to look at more than just the composite score. The individual scores help students test into higher math classes, saving time and money in college. They also help students find a direction if they have many options open to them, Tillman said, because they show where a student’s strength is. 

“I’ve been here for six years and the scores have consistently been above the state and national average,” said Headmaster Frankie Mitchum. “We have outstanding teachers and we make sure ACT skills are covered in regular classes. We’re not under any testing mandate like public schools so that’s less stress on the students and teachers, in my opinion. We have the luxury to do what we think is best for the students.” 

He also credits the private school facility because parents pay for their children to attend the school and are very involved in student education. 

In previous years, Glenwood has had an ACT prep class where students could take a semester learning how to best take the test. But teachers have a specialty subject, Tillman said. “My specialty is English. I would be little help for the math portion of the test,” she said. With that in mind, Mitchum and the staff got away from that method and now incorporate test taking skills into classroom instruction. 

An advantage that Mitchum sees in his school is that it is a regular testing site. Students have the option during the year to arrive on a Saturday morning and take the test, but they can also take it during a regular school day one time a year. Mitchum said they have seen progress with the students as they are more comfortable in their classroom setting. 

Some tips that the students share for test-taking include taking the ACT early and often, bring a snack because the test is four hours long, listen to instructions and set a pace for yourself.

“Don’t spend too much time on one question,” Horne said.