My ACT story: ‘I believed that I would have a better chance of achieving the score I wanted with the ACT test’

Hazal Bulut has just completed grade 11 at the Üsküdar American School in Istanbul, Turkey. Hazal initially took the paper-based ACT® test as a 10th grader but wanted to give the test a try as an 11th grader. In February 2019, she took the computer-based ACT and achieved the maximum ACT Composite score of 36!

Why did you decide to take the ACT test as your university readiness test?

I want to study in the United States, and I know that there are two university readiness tests that are accepted by all universities, so as a first step, I tried both the SAT and ACT practice tests that I found online. Looking at the question types and my scores, I found the reading pieces and vocabulary on the SAT were more difficult, and the most challenging aspect of the ACT was the timing. As I trusted my abilities in time management, I believed that I would have a better chance of achieving the score I wanted with the ACT test.

Did you take PreACT?

No, I didn’t.

How did you prepare for the ACT test?

I practiced using previous ACT exams that I found online. I studied mainly on my own using the ACT “Red Book” (The Official ACT Prep Guide) and online resources for some math subjects. I got a few lessons for tips on the English test in grade 10, before taking the ACT for the first time. The school curriculum covers most of the areas I needed for the ACT, and if I had any extra questions in math or science, I would speak to my teachers at the school, who were always very helpful.

What are your plans for the future?

Both of my parents are engineers, but I don’t want to pursue a career in engineering. My preference is to study economics at a university in the USA. I am quite interested in economic research, and I think a career as an academician would be quite fulfilling.

If you gave students one recommendation about preparing for the ACT, what would it be?

Everyone will find their own technique to succeed, because everyone has their own level of strengths in different skills. But for the ACT test, I would recommend that they work on their time management skills.

The second important thing is vocabulary; I would definitely recommend using vocabulary cards, which are easy to get from online sources, to improve their grasp on vocabulary.

“The school curriculum covers most of the areas I needed for the ACT, and if I had any extra questions in math or science, I would speak to my teachers at the school, who were always very helpful.”

How did you practice time management skills?

I tried to simulate real exam conditions by always solving full exams that I timed. I believe this helped me realize what areas needed improving and developed strategies accordingly.

What are your hobbies?

I’ve been a part of many school clubs to try out new things from the percussion club to the student association. My main hobby is Model United Nations. MUN has helped me develop new skills and insights and also has introduced me to a new community of wonderful people. I am especially proud of my school’s conference TIMUN, of which we are organizing the 26th annual session this year. I am delighted to be the Secretary General.

How user friendly did you find the tools offered on the computer-based ACT test (CBT)?

The test and the various tools made available were easy to use and navigate. The main challenge is the lack of real-life experience practice tests made available to students. I practiced mainly on paper-based examples. As time management is essential for the ACT test, students need more sample tests made available to them online, with the same tools, to give us that real experience of the actual test.

What part of the ACT test did you find the most challenging, and how you did prepare for it?

Science was challenging to me at the beginning, before taking the test, but I overcame this problem with continuous practice.

What was the advantage of taking the ACT CBT over the paper-based version?

The biggest advantage was the quick turnaround of the results in 2-3 working days.

Hazal Bulut

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