Don’t Waste Time in College: A Guide to the ACCUPLACER Test

The ACCUPLACER test is an important step for many college students. It helps ensure you’re placed in courses that match your current skill level, saving you time and money. Here’s what you need to know about the ACCUPLACER to ace it and get started on the right foot in college.

Why Take the ACCUPLACER?

Many colleges use the ACCUPLACER to assess your reading, writing, and math abilities. This helps them determine if you’re prepared for college-level coursework. Earning a good score can mean skipping unnecessary developmental classes and jumping right into classes that count towards your degree.

How to Prepare for the ACCUPLACER

Most schools offering the ACCUPLACER also provide free study resources. These might include practice problems, review materials, or workshops. Check your school’s website or visit the learning center to see what’s available.

The College Board, which designs the ACCUPLACER, also offers free practice tests online. Taking practice tests familiarizes you with the format, identifies areas needing improvement, and boosts your confidence on test day.

Understanding Your Scores

The ACCUPLACER scores vary depending on the test. Reading, writing, quantitative reasoning, statistics, and advanced algebra/functions tests are scored between 200-300.

For the writing portion, there’s a separate scoring system (1-8) based on your essay’s clarity and persuasiveness.

There’s no “passing” or “failing” the ACCUPLACER. However, your score determines your course placement. Lower scores might mean taking developmental courses before tackling regular college classes.

What to Expect on Test Day

Most ACCUPLACER tests are multiple choice, with the exception of the writing test which requires an essay. There’s no time limit, so focus on giving your best effort and demonstrating your abilities.

The test is adaptive, meaning the difficulty of each question adjusts based on your previous answers. So, take your time and think carefully before selecting your answer.

The Different Sections of the ACCUPLACER

  • Reading: Tests your ability to understand different types of text and vocabulary.
  • Writing: Evaluates your editing and revising skills in a multi-paragraph text.
  • Math:
    • Arithmetic: Covers basic calculations, order of operations, and recognizing equivalent values.
    • Quantitative Reasoning, Statistics, and Advanced Algebra/Functions: These cover topics like linear equations, inequalities, exponents, and factoring (no calculator allowed!).

The WritePlacer Essay

This section assesses your writing skills, crucial for college success. Your score reflects your ability to express, organize, and support your ideas. Focus on conveying your thoughts clearly and using proper grammar and mechanics.

By understanding the ACCUPLACER, preparing with practice tests, and familiarizing yourself with the different sections, you can approach the test with confidence and get placed in courses that challenge you and help you succeed in college. If extra help is needed, we offer one-on-one private tutorials to help you reach your goals.



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What To Do After a Disappointing ACT Score

What To Do After a Disappointing ACT Score

The sting of a disappointing ACT score can be overwhelming. Weeks of preparation culminate in a number that doesn’t reflect your efforts, leaving you feeling lost and unsure. But, take it from us, don’t let this setback doesn’t define your future. Here are some steps to navigate this situation and emerge stronger:

  1. Acknowledge and Process Your Emotions:

It’s natural to feel disappointment, frustration, or even anger. Don’t bottle up these emotions. Talk to a trusted friend, family member, or counselor. Allow yourself time to process and accept these feelings before moving forward.

  1. Analyze Your Score:

The ACT score report provides valuable insights into your strengths and weaknesses. Review each section carefully, identifying areas that require improvement. This analysis will be crucial for shaping your future study plan.

  1. Re-evaluate Your Goals:

Reflect on the reasons behind your initial ACT goal. Was it driven by college aspirations, scholarship opportunities, or external pressure? Reassessing your motivations can help determine if a retake is necessary or if alternative paths can achieve your desired outcomes.

  1. Consider Retaking the ACT:

If your goal is a higher score, consider retaking the test. However, approach this decision strategically.

  • Identify the Next Test Date: Just like students lose knowledge over the summer (the summer slide) the same goes for the ACT. Typically, the very next ACT test date is best. Jump right back into it and prepare for the test so you won’t lose any knowledge you’ve already gained.
  • Revamp Your Study Strategy: Analyze your learning style and identify areas where your current approach fell short. Explore different resources like online courses, or private tutoring tailored to your specific needs.
  • Seek Expert Guidance: Our tutors can provide personalized support, diagnose learning gaps, and develop a customized study plan to address your weaknesses and maximize your score potential. They help you navigate the test and find new ways to better prepare while retaining what you’ve already learned.
  1. Explore Alternative Options:

Remember, the ACT is just one piece of the college application puzzle. Many colleges consider a holistic review, including your GPA, extracurricular activities, essays, and letters of recommendation. Explore these areas and showcase your strengths to create a compelling application.

  1. Maintain Perspective:

The ACT score is not a measure of your worth or intelligence. It’s simply a standardized test with inherent limitations. Don’t let it define your confidence or future aspirations.

  1. Remember, You’re Not Alone:

Many students face similar challenges. Seek support from peers, mentors, or online communities who can offer encouragement and share their own experiences.

  1. Focus on Growth and Improvement:

View this experience as an opportunity for personal growth. The journey of learning and self-improvement extends beyond a single test score. Embrace the challenge, refine your study skills, and strive for continuous progress.

By following these steps, you can navigate the disappointment of a low ACT score and emerge with a renewed sense of purpose and a clear path towards achieving your academic goals. Remember, resilience and determination are valuable assets that will serve you well throughout your academic and professional journey.


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Kansas Educational Enrichment Program

Kansas Educational Enrichment Program

Kansas Educational Enrichment Program: Boosting Kids’ Learning After COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted education for many Kansas families. To help kids get back on track and embrace new learning opportunities, the Kansas Educational Enrichment Program (KEEP) is here! This program provides up to $1,000 per eligible student to spend on educational goods and services that spark their curiosity and ignite their academic success.

Who qualifies?

  • Kids aged 5 (as of August 31, 2023) to 18 years old (as of May 31, 2024).
  • Students above 18 still in high school with active K-12 enrollment proof.
  • Families with income at or below 300% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines (check the chart below to see if you qualify!).


What can you spend the money on?

KEEP opens a world of possibilities! Browse an online marketplace filled with educational resources like:

  • Tutoring and academic support: Get one-on-one help for subjects needing extra attention.
  • Enrichment activities: Explore music, art, coding, STEM programs, and more!
  • Summer camps: Immerse your child in new experiences that ignite their passions
  • School supplies and technology: Equip your child with the tools they need to thrive.

Multiple kids in the family? No problem! Enroll them all and manage their individual award funds easily through a dedicated dashboard. Shared custody or foster care situations? KEEP understands. Only one parent/guardian applies per child, and students in foster care are eligible regardless of income. Just provide the necessary documentation.

Getting started is simple! All applicants must provide:

One of the following documents to prove Kansas Residency

  • Current Kansas Driver’s License or ID renewal postcard
  • Current Kansas vehicle registration
  • Utility bill or equivalent no more than two months old
  • Financial institution documents such as a bank statement, deed, or mortgage with a current Kansas address
  • Rent or lease agreement dated within the last 12 months
  • Kansas Voter Registration Card

Head over to the KEEP website and apply today! Let’s work together to give every Kansas child the chance to learn, grow, and reach their full potential.


  • Applications are reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis, so don’t wait!
  • Check the website for updates and eligibility details.

For further questions, please feel free to contact us about how to use the KEEP awards for ACT Tutoring



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Setting a Goal

Setting A Goal

It’s one of the main questions we ask every single one of our students before we start any kind of ACT prep. What’s your goal? Why do you want that goal? Is it because you’re trying to get into a certain college or are you trying to obtain a scholarship? Either way, having a goal in mind makes it a lot easier to distinguish what to do and what not to do when students start preparing for the ACT.

When do I choose a goal?

As soon as possible. Keep in mind, that may look different for every student. However, for the majority of students the best time to start preparing is the end of sophomore year or beginning of Junior year. It also depends on your academics and which classes you’ve already taken in high school. The math portion of the ACT is heavy in Algebra, so if a student is taking Algebra II as a sophomore, then end of your sophomore year is a perfect time to start. If you are a Junior and taking Algebra II, then the end of your Junior year is more appropriate.

If you already have a college or university in mind and know what type of ACT score you need for admittance, then you might be a step ahead of everyone else. Or, if you need a certain ACT score for a scholarship, that is a fantastic reason to reach your goal!

The best way to start preparing early is to take a Free Practice Test to establish a baseline score. We offer those every Saturday morning at Get Smarter Prep. Once you have a baseline, we can determine how best to prepare for the ACT. Some students may need a full 15-hour Private Tutorial to reach the highest score possible. Other students are a good fit for one of our Standard or Advanced Courses. We won’t know how best to prepare until a baseline is established, so take advantage of our practice tests.

Why set a goal?

Setting a goal is one of the most assured ways of meeting a goal. A Harvard Business study revealed amazing statistics relating to goal setting and success. The study found that 14% who have goals are 10 times more successful than those without goals. Go ahead and write down your goals and then share them with your tutor, parents, and those who are supportive of your goals.

Is my goal realistic?

That depends. Are you willing to shift activities around to accommodate sessions, complete homework, and put in the effort? Our tutors have seen increases up to 12+ points for students who are dedicated to their goals. If a student only wants a 2-3 point increase, the same dedication applies to the student who wants a larger increase, it may just look a little different. It depends on the level of tutor, the length of test prep, and if students are willing to put in the work to meet or exceed their goals.

If you’re having a difficult time setting a goal or don’t know what a good goal should be, then contact us. We are happy to help students figure out what an appropriate goal is for them and work towards reaching that goal!

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ACT Accommodations

ACT Testing Accommodations

At Get Smarter Prep, we understand some students may have testing accommodations to be used on the ACT. Our tutors are happy to allow those accommodations with proof of official ACT accommodations, IEP documentation or 504 plan.  We will honor those accommodations on the ACT Practice Test, Midterm, and Final as well as how our tutors instruct their students with official documentation.

We want what’s best for our students, which is why ask for documentation (official email from ACT) prior to testing or tutoring. If you don’t have an official email from ACT yet, we will make exceptions for current accommodations in high school such as an IEP or 504 plan. However, it is the students’ and/or parents’ responsibility to set up testing accommodations from ACT.

You can see the ACT Policy for Requesting Accommodations Here as well as the ACT Accommodations Eligibility Requirements Here.

Common Accommodations:

  • Extended time.
  • Computer use for essays.
  • Extra and extended breaks.
  • Reading accommodations (like an audio test format)
  • Use of a four-function calculator for math sections.
  • Multiple-day testing.
  • Small group setting.

ACT Private Tutoring is the best option for students with testing accommodations. Private Tutoring is designed for students who need more time to grasp ACT strategies, manage time within their allotted time frame and/or better understand how to maximize their accommodations. Students will take three proctored Practice Tests with Private Tutoring all with ACT accommodations.

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Choosing ACT or SAT

Choosing the ACT, SAT or Both

Choosing the ACT, SAT or Both

This debate may be familiar to many of you. ACT? SAT? Both? Some students and families enter junior year with a perfectly clear answer to those questions, but the reasons behind those decisions may be less clear. Do any of these sound familiar?

  • He’ll take the ACT, of course. He wants to attend a school in the Midwest.
  • We’re an SAT family. Her older brother scored much better on the SAT.
  • Of course I want to prepare for both exams!

The ACT and SAT originated in different places, for different purposes, and developed different reputations over the years. Despite the many changes to each test, some of those perceptions persist.

The SAT, originally developed by the College Board for use in admissions to elite, northeastern schools, remains more popular on the coasts than in the Midwest. The ACT came later, designed to provide an admissions test for regional and public universities that didn’t use the SAT; it is still more popular in the Midwest than the SAT.

Although these regional patterns persist regarding which test students tend to take, the initial reason for those patterns – which test your college of choice might accept – no longer holds. The final school to accept the ACT finally did so in 2007, meaning that the choice of which test to take is really up to the individual student.

So, choosing the ACT, SAT, or Both? There are differences, though, between the ACT and the SAT, that one should consider when deciding between the two exams, and they don’t have anything to do with the geographical distribution of your college list.

First, how strong are you at math? On the SAT, math counts for half of your score, while on the ACT math makes up only ¼. That’s a significant difference. Consider, also, how well you’ll fare without a calculator, as the SAT has a section that must be completed without one.

How much do you want to improve your score? Because of changes to the SAT in 2012, there is much less practice material available than for the ACT, which means fewer opportunities to practice and improve your score. If you’re looking for a significant boost, you might lean towards the ACT.

How much do you struggle with timing? The timing on the ACT is more difficult for some students. The SAT provides more time per question, which might be an asset. Taking a practice version of each will help you to know if that is the case for you.

A final consideration is that the SAT, during and since the redesign, has been a bit unstable. There have been data breaches, score delays, and debates over how the new scores stack up to the old ones.

If you know you’ll be taking an ACT through school, or (for those who haven’t already taken it) you plan to prepare for the PSAT, those factors might influence your choice as well. The goal is to prepare for only one exam.

The ACT (or SAT) is only one part of your college applications, and your college applications are only one part of your life. Preparing for both tests – or choosing the wrong one – is a recipe for doing more work than necessary and taking time away from other activities and classes that make up your high school career.

By Audrey Hazzard, Premier-Level Tutor

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