In April 2013, juniors at Proviso East High School, Proviso West High School, and Proviso Mathematics and Science Academy took the ACT and the Prairie State Achievement Exam (PSAE).
The same group of students, now seniors preparing to graduate in May, had some advice for this year’s class of juniors as they prepare to take the ACT/PSAE on April 23 and 24.
Ladarius Sapho, a Proviso East senior, increased his ACT score five points from the practice ACT that he took earlier in the year. While he said that it is important to eat a healthy breakfast on both days to make sure that you are not hungry during the tests, he also recommended that it is important just to have confidence in yourself on each question. He said that the juniors should be mindful of the time allotted for each portion of the tests and approach the questions accordingly.
"Do not try to read the whole passage in the reading portion," said Ladarius, who plans to study biochemistry at Hawaii Pacific University in Honolulu, Hawaii. "Read the first and last sentences first. Do not doubt yourself. When in doubt, go past it."
For Jorell Socorro, a senior at Proviso West, it is a matter of improving your weaker subject areas.
"If you know you’re doing fine in the other subjects, focus on that one problem area," said Jorell, who plans to study computer science at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago.
Jorell also recommended that students be willing to take the ACT more than once to get as a high score as possible, advice with which Ava Raddatz, a PMSA senior, agreed. She said that remembering everything that she had learned from the computer ACT prep program at PMSA helped her improve her score from the practice exams that she took earlier in the year.
"I think it is important to take the ACT more than one time, and I would encourage it," said Ava, who plans to major in biology and pre-medicine at Emory University in Atlanta. "Every test is completely different, so just knowing the order or way the test runs is important."
The Class of 2014 accomplished overall improvements on the state tests as they took the exam seriously. The District has had a 33 percent increase in the percentage of students meeting or exceeding standards in reading on the PSAE since 2009, including an 11.5 percent increase at Proviso East in 2013. The most recent state report card also shows a 55 percent increase in the percentage of students meeting or exceeding standards in mathematics on the PSAE since 2009, and a 37 percent increase in the percentage of students meeting or exceeding standards in science on the PSAE since 2009. The percentages of students meeting or exceeding standards in reading and math were historical highs since the implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001. In addition, 95.5 percent of the District's juniors participated on both ACT and PSAE testing days in 2013.
Dr. Nettie Collins-Hart, superintendent of District 209, said that she anticipated even better results from this year’s state exams.
"It is the District’s goal to meet or exceed the state average," she said. "I am encouraged by the wisdom shared by our senior students."
Good luck to all juniors taking the ACT and PSAE on April 23 and 24! We know that you will make us proud!