ACT Standard Course – What You Can Expect

Our Standard ACT Preparation Course is taught by the most qualified instructors of any company in the region and focused on a smaller, more cohesive group. Get Smarter Prep students consistently find results through our tried and true curriculum. This course includes 20 hours of instruction, 3 practice tests, and Office Hours with an instructor, leading right up to the actual test date. We will provide all of the materials necessary.

Standard Prep Course

Classes are capped at 8 students, but in general, we like to hold a class with 4-6 students to make sure we have more of a small classroom feel. That way our students have more access to their tutor and feel more comfortable asking questions as well as speaking up in class. All the students in the class are scoring within the same ACT range of 17-23 (the 33rd-69th percentiles) and will be learning at the same pace. 


Each week the students will be meeting at the same location (either our Mission or Leawood location) at the same time. Schedules are posted on our website and both students and their parents will get an email confirming their schedule.

For each course, there will be 20 hours of instruction split up by ten, 2-hour sessions. Students will also be given three practice tests. Starting with a Pretest to establish a baseline score, a Midterm to determine how far they’ve come with five sessions under their belt, and a Final to see what the students needs to focus on with one session remaining before the official ACT.  The Pretest, Midterm, and Final are all proctored at one of our locations on Saturday mornings.

Materials for the class, which are all provided by Get Smarter Prep, consist of the ACT book and the ACT student manual which contain the students’ homework. Students can plan on average, 1 ½ to 2 hours of homework per session. Tutors will expect all homework to be complete by the student by the next study session.

Office Hours

Office Hours are always available to our students. We offer Office Hours at our Leawood location every Tuesday evening from 7-8:30pm as well as our Mission location every Saturday from 11am-12:30pm. Office Hours are a FREE opportunity for currently enrolled students to ask additional questions, catch-up in sections where they need extra help, work through assigned homework, focus on the timing component, and/or work through additional test questions. 

How Many Points Can A Student Expect to Increase?

Our Standard Course is a perfect fit for those students who are scoring similarly within each section of the ACT. Students who have a six-point difference between their sub scores are a better fit for Private Tutoring as they need more specific help in one area over the other.

On average, students can expect to see a 2-4 point increase in their ACT score within a 10-week window! Keep in mind, students who are present, finish their homework on time, come to Office Hours, and have a good attitude generally score higher than those who don’t.

GSP at Hogan Prep

We’ve been fortunate enough to partner with Hogan Preparatory Academy in Kansas City, MO to provide an ACT Clinic for their juniors. Hogan Prep is a UCM sponsored public charter school and has a total enrollment of 390 students. Approximately 80% of graduates continue on to some type of post-secondary form of education. The high school boasts a 91.43% graduation rate of its students. Hogan Prep has received the National College Board Inspiration Award on numerous occasions. 

Although Hogan Prep has demonstrated excellence in many facets – the ACT is one particular area in which its students struggle. In 2015 the students’ average ACT score was a 16.1. The students have an especially difficult time with the English portion of the exam, scoring noticeably worse in this area than the other sections of the exam. We have a goal that each student that attends the sessions will score a 20 or higher on the English portion! We’re excited to donate our time and expertise to the students that elect to attend our clinic and look forward to seeing their score improvements!

Just like all the other juniors enrolled in public high schools in the state of Missouri, Hogan Prep students will be taking the official ACT on April 19th. We wish these students well as they continue to prepare for the ACT and for college!

ACT College Readiness

Fifty-seven percent of the class of 2014 took the ACT, nationwide. That’s 1,845,787 students, which adds up to a lot of data for the ACT. The ACT recently released its annual Condition of College and Career Readiness report for 2014, which uses that data to draw conclusions about the graduates of the class of 2014, how ready (or not) they seem to be for college, and what educators can do to improve those numbers.

Kansas vs. Missouri

The numbers for Kansas and Missouri were comparable – 75% of Kansas students took the ACT, with an average composite score of 22, while 76% of Missouri’s class of 2014 took the test, with an average composite of 21.8. Nationwide, average scores varied from 18.9 in North Carolina (one of 12 states in which all 11th grade students are required to take the test) to 2.3 in Massachusetts, where only 23% of students took the test.

The major purpose of the report, though, is not just average composite scores; the report is centered around college readiness. The ACT has adopted benchmarks in each of the four subject areas – English, Math, Reading, and Science – which predict students’ “likelihood of experiencing success in first-year college courses.” According to the ACT, a student who meets the benchmark in a subject has a 50% chance of earning at least a B, and a 75% chance of earning at least a C, in a first-year course in that subject.

For 2014, those benchmarks are 18 for English, 22 for Math and Reading, and 23 for Science. In the class of 2014, only 26% of students met all four benchmarks, while 31% met none. These numbers obviously present a challenge for educators – what can be done to ensure that students are ready for college when they graduate? The ACT has a few answers.

Prepare for College

First, students should take more rigorous classes – starting in eighth grade. In addition, high school classes should include a recommended core of classes, including four years of English, three years of math, three years of science, and three years of social studies. The difference in college readiness benchmarks between students who do take the recommended core classes and those who don’t is significant. For example, 46% percent of students taking the recommended number and type of math classes met the Math readiness benchmark of a 22, but only 8% percent of students taking fewer math classes did. The ACT report actually suggests making those core classes mandatory for high school graduation.

In addition, students with a self-reported interest in STEM fields are more likely to meet readiness benchmarks in all areas, not just Math and Science. Thirty-four percent of students with an interest in STEM meet all four benchmarks, compared to 26% for the whole class of 2014. The ACT suggests increased support for STEM-related courses, and active encouragement of students to pursue those fields. The report correctly points out that demand for STEM-related jobs is expected to increase significantly (8.6 million jobs by 2018).

A Semi-circle of Circle Sideways

As a high school student without a clear view of your career path, it can be challenging to choose a set of colleges for consideration and then to actually pick one for attendance. My advice is to find a healthy balance in following your heart and your head, and open your mind to the notion that you can excel at anything you do regardless of whether you select an less-expensive state school or an Ivy League institution.

In the fall of 1999 during my senior year, I narrowed down my college considerations by focusing on evaluating Journalism Schools in a handful of universities. Journalism appeared to be a perfect fit given my love of language and gravity toward good grammar. By graduating third in my high school class of more than 400 and having a resume full of sports and extra-curricular involvement, I ended up being offered a $10,000 annual scholarship to Boston University and a scholarship to the University of Kansas that would cover full tuition and books. Rather than becoming saddled with more than $100,000 of debt, I put my pride aside and chose KU knowing full well I could be happy anywhere.

Despite the large size of the university, I always tell prospective students that the community is as small as you make it. Whether you choose Greek life, opt to participate in activities ranging from sports to music to politics, or simply make friends through your core classes, it is easy to feel like part of something great. The William Allen White School of Journalism was exceptional, and I couldn’t have imagined how much relevant information and how many life skills I would learn in those classes. An internship promoted by one of my English professors became the catalyst for my three post-college jobs in marketing that led me to where I am today. Ultimately, I graduated with a B.S. in Journalism Strategic Communications with a French minor and a B.A. in Psychology. Together, these degrees help me excel not only in my career but in being a good, caring person who puts friends, family and clients first.

As the co-owner of Circle Sideways, a marketing and advertising firm located in Merriam, Kan., I am not just a copywriter but a marketing strategist, business consultant, entrepreneur, client therapist and more. My business partner, Anna Ladd, also graduated from a state school (I can forgive her for being a K-State Wildcat!), and the friends and connections we made in our college days have been invaluable in both supporting our journey and growing our business. I’ve often thought about how my life would be different if I had attended BU. All in all, I don’t think it would have made me any happier or more successful in what I find meaningful in life.

Learn more about Lee Stiegemeier and Circle Sideways on Circle Sideways website!

Rockhurst University

Name: Stephen Heiner
College:Rockhurst University

What first drew you to Rockhurst University?

It was local, Catholic, and had an aggressive program to recruit potential transfers, like me.

What other colleges were you considering?


How was the adjustment from being out of school to coming back in?

Well I had been out of school for 6 years, had moved to a different state, and had started a business.  I wasn’t sure I was ever going to finish college, so the biggest hurdle was applying and attending the first day of class as a 27-year old business owner, not an 18-year old freshman or even a 21-year old business owner.  I also had to manage my company while taking 18 credit-hours so I could graduate on time.  I thought that I had time management down, but this experience took it to an all new level.

What was your favorite class?  Why?

I enjoyed a lot of my classes, but perhaps my favorite was the non-class that was my Senior Thesis.  I got to propose it, build it, research it, and go for it.  It was a monumental essay I wrote on multiple novels of William Faulkner.  It was, rightly so, the toughest thing I did as an undergrad and one which underscored just what a nerdy English major I was (and am).

What clubs or groups were you involved in?

I was VP of our chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, the English Honor Society.  I also was elected to a national position there.  I also was Chancellor of our chapter of Delta Sigma Pi, a business fraternity.  I really enjoyed being part of those organizations and I have to say – if you’re going to take the time to be part of an organization, run for an office.

Anything else you want to tell us?

Don’t be afraid to finish school just because it’s been so long since you were in.  It’s never too late.  I’m proof.

In one sentence, what do you love about your school?

Challenges, Catholicism, and Completing it, finally.

Stephen Heiner is a former Tutor at Get Smarter Prep.

Cal State Northridge

Name: Elizabeth Mondok
College: CSUN (Cal State Northridge)
Major: English: Creative Writing

1) What first drew you to CSUN?

I picked my college/university because it was close enough to home, yet far enough away to stay at home, and keep my job as a tutor. I also liked the program. Out of all the creative writing programs out there, this one had the option of Playwriting, which I was very good at. I picked my major because I wanted to become a playwright when I started. I also enjoyed writing and reading in general, so it was a somewhat easy choice for me.

2) How was the adjustment from high school to college?

As a homeschooled student, college was vastly different from anything that I knew. I had a very narrow view on the socio-economic, racial, and various groups that college had, versus homeschooling. I also had a rough time, at first, fitting in. I was a number in a classroom of 50+ students. I didn’t have any friends, the teachers knew me by my number and didn’t care whether or not I came to class. Then, I found my niche, made friends, hung out with my fellow classmates, and learned how to be social.

3) What was your favorite class?

There are so many! My top 3 were:

1. ENGL 449 ENGL RENAISSANCE Literature class, taught by Dr. Collier-Lakeman. She was hilarious, and brilliant, and crazy all at the same time. She picked literature where we could either watch a movie of it or about it, OR she would pick something and have us act it out in class, such as the Faerie Queen. All of us had to take it to fulfill one graduation requisite, or another, and she made it fun.

2. ENGL 457IL INTERNATIONAL LIT: Comedy Writing with Dr. Mitchel. Once again, he, too was brilliant and amazing in class. I had a natural talent for writing comedy, and this short summer class was funny, disturbing, and twice, we went on a trip to a stand up club. I learned many things, such as stand up, comedic monologue, theatre of the absurd, and dialogue. There was practical application, and I finished the class learning how to push myself as a writer.

3. ENGL 465 THEORIES OF FICTION: Mr. Brian Leung was passionate about writing, and he passed the passion onto his students. We would bring in our works from other classes, and put our own crazy theories onto the stories. He taught me how to critically analyze my own works. In doing that, I learned how to become a much better writer.

4) What clubs or groups were you involved in?

I was involved in playwriting clubs, and some drama groups, but the need to keep on working kept me away from a lot of the clubs.

5) Anything else you want to tell us?

I feel that this school, as any public university (all the UC’s, CSU’s, etc), has a lot to offer to its students, but you need to be willing to go out and search for the opportunities, as they will not come to you.

6) In one sentence, what did you love about your school?

I loved to write, party, and teach my friends.

Elizabeth Mondok is an aspiring teacher who taught ESL in South Korea for 2 years and will soon start the credential program at CSUB to earn her teaching certification.