Library to host ACT workshop for high school students

Published 8:06 am Friday, February 22, 2019

With spring comes a plethora of state-wide and nation-wide examinations. For juniors and seniors, the ACT and SAT can be some of the most important tests they take, but for many, it can be a sluggish, brutal experience.

Amy Schaffner has been hosting ACT workshops for the past several years, helping to correct a problem she sees within high school students.

“Some students do well in school, get straight A’s, yet struggle on the ACT,” Schaffner said. “Others do get it and test well, yet struggle to apply themselves in school.”

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She said this difference is due to the nature of the ACT itself: it is not a true indicator of academic abilities.

“It tests basic skills in new ways and throws in a timer,” she said. “It is a test of strategy.”

To that end, Schaffner said she started hosting workshops when her daughter was a senior in high school.

The ACT is one of two national exams that play a significant role in college admissions and financial aid availability.

Almost all students take the test at least once during their high school career, either as a junior or a senior, and while students often access varying resources to study on their own, she said many of the resources floating around schools are simply out of date.

“These tests have evolved, and many of the materials they find are out of date,” Schaffner said. “The ACT issues their own past exams for people to use and practice with.”

The workshop will feature three main foci of conversation: an overview of what the test entails and how each section works, general strategy and tips to optimize time and maximize their score and a chance to fill out portions of each of the four test sections.

“I am giving them tools for them to take home and use later,” Schaffner said.

Many colleges might only accept an ACT score or an SAT score, but not both, so she said she will be showing how these scores translate between the two for reference.

She said the students studying for the ACT are smart and attentive; the biggest issue she tries to correct is inefficiency.

“We use a real answer sheet,” Schaffner said. “They can feel the pressure of having to complete the section under a time limit.”

She said one mother recently emailed her about how her daughter scored a 30 on the ACT with only her workshop as guidance.

“It gave her the strategy she needed,” she said. “The more you know and expect, the quicker the answers come. You become more efficient.”

Those who are interested can register by contacting Schaffner at with the student’s name, school and grade level.

“They really do not have to prepare ahead of time,” Schaffner said. “They know how to be attentive, and they are all capable of doing well.”

The workshop will take place at the Elizabethton/Carter County Library on Tuesday, March 19, from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.