MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Memphis-based non-profit organization is helping one high school senior at a time get accepted into college and qualify for more money by earning high scores on the ACT test through its test prep program.
The pandemic changed a lot, even the way students get accepted into 4-year institutions.
These days many institutions do not require students to take either the ACT or SAT standardized tests anymore, but there is a catch.
If students want to maximize their opportunities and qualify for scholarships, it is recommended that they take either or both of the tests.
It is not that one is better than the other, it just depends on what the student prefers and/or the program that they want to get accepted into.
Ridgeway High School Senior Caleb Houston told ABC24 that he is working to put himself in a position to someday be a computer engineer, and the University of Memphis is at the top of his list.
The Peer Power Foundation, which is a non-profit organization that focuses on youth development also tutors and mentors students to help prepare them for the workforce and for college.
Within the foundation, they have a special ACT prep program, which is what Houston has been a part of since his freshman year.
He said it has provided him with the tools he did not know he needed, starting with English and reading.
“One of the strategies I use is, ‘If it sounds right, it is right.’ It’s a English and reading strategy. If you sound it in your head and make sure it sounds right, it most likely is the right answer,” Houston said.
He added that this test strategy has helped him determine what is right and what is wrong, a tip that has made his experience much smoother while taking the test and while the clock is ticking.
“The first time, I was like, ‘I need to hone my skills and get used to everything,” Houston explained. “So I was like, ‘Oh this program called Peer Power is doing ACT tutoring. So I was like, ‘I need to hop on that as soon as possible.’”
Houston has already taken the test three times and wants to take it one more time.
CEO Cortney Richardson said the program is a mirrored version the ACT to get students comfortable and familiar with the process.
“They take the test, and then we look at the test to see what their score is. Then we’re able to hone down into the specific areas where those students need the assistance the most and we train them in content as well as test-taking skills,” Richardson stated.
The Peer Power ACT prep class covers every subject that is on the test including math, reading, English, science, and writing.
The foundation partners with Memphis-Shelby County Schools, and students at the UofM are the tutors and mentors.
“A lot of people are saying that ACT is a thing of the past, because colleges are accepting students without ACT now,” Richardson expressed. “The catch there is that you can be accepted into a university without an ACT score, but you need the ACT score to qualify for scholarships, so we cannot throw the ACT away if we’re going to make sure our students can compete when it comes to scholarships and attending college for free.”
Richardson added that there is still space available in the program. To sign up, click here.
Students must attend at least three of the five sessions consecutively for the best outcome.
Sessions are on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Richardson said students can also continue in the program beyond the required number of sessions if they feel that it is necessary.