ACT plans get real for juniors

Extra preparedness may contribute to New Trier’s higher than average ACT scores

Gabi Schulz, Staff Reporter

On Tuesday, April 19, the junior class is scheduled to take the district required ACT. Although some have already taken it, this school funded test serves as an introduction to the college entrance exam for many.

While some juniors have yet to take an actual ACT, most have been preparing for months, a trend that is especially popular on the North Shore.
Students tend to enroll in ACT prep classes or hire private tutors in hopes of obtaining their desired score.

Junior Chloe Keywell said, “I’ll be taking the ACT for the first time on April 19 but I’ve been doing practice tests every week with my tutor.”

Similarly, junior Ellen White said, “I just started going to Academic Approach which is a company full of ACT tutors. They’ve been helping me a lot.”

While ACT tutoring seems to be the norm, not all schools in Illinois are the same. In fact, many students recognize just how differently New Trier approaches the ACT than most other communities.

“We have a lot of money here and that definitely gives us an advantage because we’re able to afford thorough preparation while not all others can do the same,” White said.

Junior Sophie Siebert explained, “I think most kids at New Trier do one-on-one tutoring sessions while kids at other schools may take general classes or do nothing at all.”

The affluence of the North Shore may be a factor in New Trier students’ noticeably higher scores than their peers throughout Illinois and across the country.
According to the New Trier 2015-2016 profile, the school’s composite average of 27.5 is 6.5 points higher than the national average and 6.8 points higher than the state average.

Additionally, the 611 students who took 3 level English all four years averaged a 28.1 on the English portion of the test, and 25% of those students scored within the top 10% of the nation. Similarly, the 305 students who took 3 level pre-calculus in twelfth grade averaged 27.8 on the math portion of the ACT, with 51% of these students scoring in the top 9% of the nation.

“I think our success can be attributed to both our school system and the additional help we are able to receive. We get a quality education here, but we also have access to a lot of resources that kids in other areas don’t,” Keywell said.

The April test is available only to New Trier students, however other districts are administering an ACT on the same day for their student body.

Most of the pre-test registration is completed through the school in advisery, saving kids time and additional stress. Junior Molly Markin said, “It’s really nice to have the registration part taken care of beforehand. It takes a while for everyone in the room to fill out such a tedious bubble sheet, and it feels even longer when you’re anxious to start the test.”

Anxiety occurs not only in the minutes before testing, but starts months before the date of the ACT. Coming from such a privileged area, students often feel expected to score significantly higher.

Competition plagues the halls of New Trier as well, with students constantly comparing their scores to those of their friends and classmates.

Junior Nathan Friedman said, “I think kids put a lot more pressure on themselves to do well on the ACT than in other areas. That’s usually why they do so much extra tutoring and practicing. Also, most people take it more than once to ensure they end up with their highest score possible.”

While New Trier goes about the ACT in a different manner than other schools, the desire to excel is shared among high schoolers across the nation.

As many get anxious about their scores and their futures, junior Kevin Baer offered advice to all of those testing next week: “It may seem important now to get a super high score on your ACT, but there’s a lot of other factors that go into college admissions. At the end of the day, college is what you make of it and the prestige of a particular school is not the most important thing.”