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New Salem - April 12, 2006

Counselor's Corner


2006 By
Dr. Gaylynn Becker
National Certified Career Counselor
New Salem & Hebron High Schools

Want Higher ACT Scores and Scholarships?

What can students do to earn scholarships for college? Wish, cross ones legs, get up on the right side of the bed each morning, take easy courses, take hard courses, pray for a miracle, or all of the above. While some may help, I don't know of any research on the above. However if you are interested in some research on the topic, read on.

As you may already know, colleges and universities offer scholarships usually based on students ACT scores and grade point averages (GPA). Activities often are figured into the equation as well but are sometimes figured in only if the ACT and/or GPA meet their minimum criteria. So high ACT scores and high GPA's equal college scholarships.

For students who want higher ACT scores, I recommend taking more mathematics courses beginning with Algebra I and above. I base this on the results of 2 research studies. McLure did her study a few years ago. My dissertation study was completed in November of 2004. Some of the results are in the table below.

Table 36
Mean ACT Mathematics Scores by Number of Mathematics Courses Successfully Completed (N=231)
______________________________________________________________________________
..............................McLure Study .........Becker Study
Number Math ........Mean ACT ...............Mean ACT
Courses Taken ......Math Score .............Math Score
0*..........................................................11.00
1 ...........................15.41 ......................14.7
2 ...........................16.48 ......................16.19
3 ...........................18.99 ......................18.44
4 ...........................21.82 ......................22.49
5 ...........................24.12 ......................25.44
6 ...........................26.12 ......................25.00
______________________________________________________________________________
* Only algebra I and above were counted.


The above scores were the mean (average) ACT mathematics scores based on the number of mathematics courses successfully completed. Basically, the more mathematics courses taken, the higher students tended to score. Both studies counted only courses beginning with algebra I and above. Generally, the more mathematics courses completed, the higher students tended to score.

In order for students to receive the highest ACT scores possible, I recommend students take a minimum of 4 years of mathematics and 4 years of science in high school. In addition, students should also do as well as possible in their English classes. The reason I point out the 3 courses in this article is because the ACT consists of 4 tests. These tests are reading, English, mathematics, and science. In addition, students should do their best in every class they take.

I encourage students to take more career technical education, music and other elective courses and fewer study halls. Many of these elective courses help a student explore various career options related to these courses. These courses help to link high school coursework to the world of work, occupations, and careers. I hope students take advantage of what New Salem High School has to offer in helping them prepare and plan for their futures.

I also conducted research on the relationships of student courses, grades, ACT, and the North Dakota State Assessment. What I found was that the more mathematics courses students took the higher these students tended to score on the mathematics components of both the ACT and the North Dakota State Assessment.

In addition, the higher the grades students earned in English classes, the higher these students scored on the ACT Reading Test and the North Dakota State Reading Assessment. While my research didn't include studying the relationship of more science classes and ACT Science Test scores, other research has been done to show that the more science courses successfully completed the higher students score on the ACT Science Test.

In summary, the more of these courses taken and the better grades students earn, the higher these students will score on the ACT. Higher scores on the ACT mean more scholarships students will be able to qualify for. I hope students and parents consider this when registering for courses for next year.

My dissertation includes 40 tables and 2 figures. Anyone who is interested in more information on the relationship between student achievement on the ACT, North Dakota State Assessment, high school coursework, and grades, please contact me at New Salem High School at 843-7610, at Hebron High School at 878-4442, or at my residence at 222-3222.

Have an excellent academic day!