Weekly Warrior

Volume 5 Issue 11 January 25th, 2016

Important Dates

Jan 25th-9 week RTI Reports Due to Department Chairs--please get these in to department chairs by tomorrow (1/27/16) at 3:30
Jan 27th-CCR, Credit Recovery, & Gap Closure PLCs in library at 3:30

Jan 29th-AP English/Social Studies meeting--with Tina Rose/Dale Fleury from AdvanceKY--starts at 8:00 AM @SCC (Meece Hall)
Feb 3rd-CTE & Arts & Humanities PLCs in library at 3:30
Feb 10th-MAP/EOC and MAP Grades 9 & 10 PLCs in library at 3:30

March 1st-Statewide ACT test for all Juniors
March 3rd-Clubs--9:25 - 9:50--Students without a club remain in 1st block. Release from 1st block at 9:20.

Summer Kagan training dates have been set, please mark your calendars:
July 27th & 28th, 2016-8:30 - 3:45 for SWHS Teachers--lunch on your own

Strategies to Improve ACT Reading Score for Students (explanation of 2 out of 11 total)

Taken from Allen Cheng--How to Get a 36 on Reading: 11 Strategies from a Perfect Scorer)

Strategy 1: Understand Your High Level Weakness: Time Management, Passage Strategy, or Vocabulary

Every student has different flaws in ACT Reading. Some people don't have good strategies for tackling the passage questions. Others don't read quickly enough and struggle to get through all the questions.

Here's how you can figure out which one applies more to you:

  • For that section, use a timer for 60 minutes. Treat it like a real test.
  • If time runs out and you're not done yet, keep working for as long as you need. But starting now, for every new answer or answer that you change, mark it with a special note as "Extra Time."
  • Grade your test using the answer key and score chart, but we want two scores: 1) The Realistic score you got under normal timing conditions, 2) The Extra Time score. This is why you marked the questions you answered or changed during Extra Time.

Get what we're doing here? By marking which questions you did under Extra Time, we can figure out what score you got if you were given all the time you needed. This will help us figure out where your weaknesses lie.

Strategy 2: Learn to Eliminate 3 Wrong Answers

This strategy was by far the most effective for me in raising my Reading score. It completely changed the way I viewed passage questions. I spent some time talking above about how the ACT always has one unambiguous answer. This has a huge implication for the strategy you should use to find the right ACT Reading answer.

Here's the other way to see it: Out of the 4 answer choices, 3 of them have something that is totally wrong about them. Only 1 answer is 100% correct, which means the other 3 are 100% wrong. You know how you try to eliminate answer choices, and then end up with a few at the end that all seem equally likely to be correct? "Well, this can work...but then again this could work as well..." STOP doing that. You're not doing a good enough job of eliminating answer choices. Remember - every single wrong choice can be crossed out for its own reasons. You need to do a 180 on your approach to Reading questions. Instead, find a reason to eliminate 3 answer choices. "Can I find a reason to eliminate this answer choice? How about this one?"

One thing to remember is that even a single word can make an answer choice wrong. Every single word in each answer choice is put there by the ACT for a reason. If a single word in the answer choice isn't supported by the passage text, you need to eliminate it, even if the rest of the answer sounds good. There are a few classic wrong answer choices the ACT loves to use. For example, let’s imagine you just read a passage talking about how human evolution shaped the environment. It gives a few examples. First, it talks about how the transition from earlier species like Homo habilus to neanderthals led to more tool usage like fire, which caused wildfires and shaped the ecology. It then talks about Homo sapiens 40,000 years ago and their overhunting of species like woolly mammoths to extinction. So then we run into a question asking, "Which of the following best describes the main subject of the passage?"

Here are the answer choices:

  • A: The transition between Homo habilus and neanderthals
  • B: The study of evolution
  • C: How the environment shaped human evolution
  • D: The plausibility of evolution
  • E: The influence of human development on ecology

(I know the ACT only has 4 answer choices, but we'll just pretend they have 5 for this example). As you're reading these answer choices, a few of them probably started sounded really plausible to you. Surprise! Each of the answers from A-D has something seriously wrong about it. Each one is a classic example of a wrong answer type given by the ACT.

Wrong Answer 1: Too Specific

A: The transition between Homo habilus and neanderthals

This type of wrong answer focuses on a smaller detail in the passage. It’s meant to trick you because you might think to yourself, "well, I see this mentioned in the passage, so it’s a plausible answer choice." Wrong! Think to yourself – can this answer choice really describe the entire passage? Can it basically function as the title of this passage? You’ll find that it’s just way too specific to convey the point of the overall passage.

Wrong Answer 2: Too Broad

B: The study of evolution

This type of wrong answer has the opposite problem – it’s way too broad. Yes, theoretically the passage concerns the study of evolution, but only one aspect of it, and especially as it relates to the impact on the environment. To give another ludicrous example, if you talked to your friend about losing your cell phone, and he said your main point was about the universe. Yes, you were talking about the universe (since we all live in this universe), but you were talking about only a tiny, tiny fraction of it. This is way too broad.

Wrong Answer 3: Reversed Relationship

C: How the environment shaped human evolution

This wrong answer choice can be tricky because it mentions all the right words. But of course the relationship between those words needs to be correct as well. Here, the relationship is flipped. Students who read too quickly make careless mistakes like these!

Wrong Answer 4: Unrelated Concept

D: The plausibility of evolution

Finally, this kind of wrong answer preys on the tendency of students to overthink the question. If you’re passionate about arguing about evolution, this might be a trigger answer since ANY discussion of evolution becomes a chance to argue about the plausibility of evolution. Of course, this concept will appear nowhere in the passage, but some students just won’t be able to resist. Do you see the point? On the surface, each of the answer choices sounds possibly correct. A less prepared student would think that all of these were plausible answers. But plausible isn't good enough. The right answer needs to be 100%, totally right. Wrong answers might be off by even one word - you need to eliminate these. Carry this thought into every ACT Reading passage question you do and I guarantee you will start raising your score.

Keep checking for more strategies on future Weekly Warriors!

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