Chicago 12th Grader Increases ACT Score by 3 Points

<--- Return to Case Studies Page

Executive Summary

This case study tells the story of a 12th grade ACT student in a western suburb of Chicago.  By working with MyGuru for about a month, focused more on having the right mindset when taking the ACT than reviewing test content, the student increased her ACT score by 3 points.

Introduction: Why We Develop Case Studies

MyGuru students seek private tutoring for a variety of reasons. 

Some are already scoring above the 90th percentile on a standardized test, but realize that getting into an Ivy League university or one of the top graduate, MBA, Law, or Medical schools is only getting more intense, and thus seek private tutoring to squeeze out a few extra points on the test.  But, others are truly struggling, scoring well below average.

For some students, the key issues are knowledge-based –meaning the students don’t know certain facts or understand certain concepts that they need to master to perform better.  But, in more cases than many people might realize, the issue is more emotional or psychological – the student just needs a private tutor to help them build confidence, relax, and perform.

The benefit of customized, private tutoring is that the particular situation, strengths, and weaknesses of the student can be understood and addressed by the tutor, thus improving performance.  The purpose of MyGuru’s Case Studies is to illustrate how a particular student benefited from private tutoring.  Of course, your or your child’s particular situation is unique – but if you can draw some comparisons and identify some similarities, you might be able to envision how private tutoring would benefit you.

Student Situation

Located in a western suburb of Chicago, this female student had a very high GPA, and had previously done very well on standardized tests.  In fact, her score on her first ACT was not bad – she scored a 27.  This is in the 87th percentile, meaning that she did better than 87 percent of students that took the ACT.  However, given her previous test scores and personal goals and objectives, this was below her target.

She had a difficult junior year and was negatively affected by the academic environment in a very competitive school.  This pressure had caused her to under-perform (by her own standards) on the ACT – she was simply very stressed come test day. 

The Tutor

The tutor we matched with this particular student holds a BA- History from Duke University, and scored in the 95th percentile on both the ACT and SAT. Having spent several years as an ACT/SAT tutor at the Huntington Learning Center and several more as a private tutor, he’d developed his own particular style of tutoring, in which he spends a lot of time upfront ensuring he understands the student’s ingoing strengths, weaknesses, motivations, and personality before designing a tutoring experience.

Tutoring Approach

We started by correctly identifying that this was not an issue of the student not understanding key concepts, relevant formulas, or particular facts.  This was a matter of test-taking mindset, psychology, and execution come test day.

The tutor worked with the student to stop evaluating her performance based upon missing one particular question.  Because of this fixation with performing well, she was focusing her mental energies on being frustrated as opposed to learning what she could do differently to get the question right the next time.  Once she was able to view preparing for the test as a natural, ongoing process during which there would be highs and lows (but which would ultimately give her the confidence to attack whatever was thrown at her on test day) she was able to assimilate the information she needed quickly and begin to consistently improve on practice tests and homework.

Results Achieved

This student made very quick progress.  She was a very intelligent student, and already had the tools to perform very well on the test.  Ultimately, she was able to raise her score on the ACT from 27 to 31, breaking through the 95th percentile.  This score increase helped the student obtain a sought after scholarship, as well.

Here’s what the family had to say about working with MyGuru

“The additional four point score increase also contributed to my daughter earning a 16K per year scholarship, although ACT score was not the only factor, I would say that this increase came in handy.  He is not only an excellent tutor he is also a very modest and kind person."

Contact a Tutor