Acing the ACT: Area students post scores of 30, higher

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Carroll County students are breaking into the top bracket on the ACT this year.

The Berryville, Eureka Springs and Green Forest school districts each have had multiple students score a 30 or higher on the exam so far. According to ACT.org, students who make a composite score of 30 or higher are among the 95th to 99th percentile rankings across the nation.

Several Carroll County students have scored a 30 or higher this year on the ACT. They are (from left to right) Jonathan Zamudio, Emily Blitz, Amber Veach, Ty Allen, (not pictured) Jania Wood and Brett O'Dell of Berryville High School.
Photo by Tavi Ellis/Carroll County News

Berryville

Berryville High School had six students score a 30 or above on their most recent ACT exam: seniors Ty Allen, Jonathan Zamudio, Jania Wood, Brett O’Dell and Emily Blitz and junior Amber Veach.

Allen, who scored a 32, said he was ecstatic when he got the news because his score qualifies him for several top scholarshios.

“The last time I took it, I got a 31,” he said, “so I really wanted to go for a 32 to get the Governor’s Distinguished Scholarship. I got it and was just so excited. It was insane.”

Veach, who scored a 32, and Zamudio, who scored a 34, said they were surprised by their scores because they felt they hadn’t performed well on the exam.

“I actually wasn’t confident enough after I took it,” Veach said. “I was afraid I got lower, but I guess it was just because I had to work so much more math out because I knew how to do it. I checked on my score before my precalculus class. I was so excited I went out into the hallway and called my mom.”

“I remember feeling the same as Amber afterwards,” Zamudio said, “like I probably didn’t get anything better because this was the second time I took it. The first time I just got a 28. When I saw the score of 34, I kept refreshing the page because I was like ‘Something happened. This isn’t my score.’ I thought there was a mistake or something.”

Blitz, who scored a 30, said she wants to raise her score even higher.

“I’m taking it again,” she said. “I want to get higher than a 30.”

The students said that ACT prep materials helped them know what to expect on the exam.

“I did some stuff at home,” Allen said. “I actually ordered this book that tells you how to take the test and did a bunch of practice tests. It definitely helped.”

Veach said she also used an ACT prep book to study.

“I looked through that, especially the math section,” she said. “My math score has always been my lowest.”

She said that completing higher-level math classes also showed her how to work out the problems.

“The first few times I took it I got a 29, and it was before I even took geometry,” Veach said. “So I think the introduction to trigonometry really upped my score.”

Zamudio and Blitz said they used online study materials and practice exams to prepare, which helped with time management.

“The time limit is definitely the hardest part,” Blitz said, “especially this last time because I didn’t bring a watch with me and my proctor wasn’t very good at telling us how much time was left.”

“It feels really rushed,” Zamudio said.

Veach agreed, saying this is why she has struggled with the math section.

“Math is always the hardest for me because I feel like there’s so much work that needs to be done,” she said, “but there’s not enough time to completely work it out.”

Allen said the same was true for him with the reading section.

“I always struggled with my reading score. I spent a lot of time studying for that this time around,” he said. “I think I got a 33 on it this time around. It went up by four points. The hardest part is reading and being able to comprehend within the time limit.”

Allen said he plans on attending Harding University in Searcy and going into the premedical program. Zamudio said he plans to go to the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville to study computer science. Blitz said she wants to study biomedical engineering but has not decided on a college yet.

“I got accepted into the University of Arkansas, but it’s kind of close,” she said. “I feel like I want to go further, so I applied to Tulane University in New Orleans because they have a Bioinnovation Center.”

Since she’s a junior, Veach said she plans to take the ACT again to further increase her score.

“I’m definitely going to take it again, probably multiple times,” she said. “I’ve been thinking about going to the University of Arkansas and getting a biomedical engineering degree.”

Several Carroll County students have scored a 30 or higher this year on the ACT. They are (from left) Emily Landstrom, Henry Holtkamp and Trinity McMahan of Green Forest High School.
Photo by Tavi Ellis/Carroll County News

Green Forest

In addition to a few returning champs, Green Forest High School had a new student achieve top marks on the ACT.

Senior Emily Landstrom scored a 31 on the exam. To prepare, she said she looked up YouTube videos by people who had taken the ACT before.

“I mostly just studied the math this time around,” she said. “The math section is the hardest part for me. I’m taking College Algebra this year, so switching from the mindset in College Algebra where you have to get everything right to the ACT where you have to solve everything was challenging.”

Lindstrom said she was thrilled to learn she had received a 31.

“I was like ‘Is this real?’ ” she said. “I’m planning on going to Arkansas Tech University in Russellville, and, through my new ACT score, I get pretty much a full ride. I’m going to study art, education or a mix of both.”

Junior Trinity McMahan and sophomore Henry Holtkamp also scored in the top percentile for the second time. McMahan scored a 30, and Holtkamp scored a 32.

McMahan said she plans to attend John Brown University and become a teacher. Holtkamp said he plans to enter the medical field.

Several Carroll County students have scored a 30 or higher this year on the ACT. They are (from left) Faith Martin, Dalton Arnold, Madison Eastburn and Rachel Adams of Eureka Springs High School.
Photo by David Bell/Carroll County News

Eureka Springs

Eureka Springs seniors Rachel Adams, Madison Eastburn, Dalton Arnold and Faith Martin all scored in the 30s on their most recent ACT exam.

Eastburn, who scored a 33, said she was jumping with joy after hearing how she did.

“This was my first time taking it,” she said. “I was shooting for a 32 because that’s where the highest scholarships are, so getting a 33 was exciting.”

Arnold, who scored a 30, said it was his first time taking the exam, too.

“I didn’t really know what to expect,” he said. “I was pretty excited whenever I got it back.”

Adams, who scored a 31, said she was shocked to score so high.

“I’d had like my worst day ever the day that we took the test,” she said. “I hadn’t slept the night before or eaten breakfast. I don’t even think I brushed my teeth. So I was really surprised when my score had gone up two points.”

Martin said she was afraid she had wasted her time and money by taking the exam in June.

“It was my third time taking it, and I had slowly increased by one point every time I took it,” she said. “I remember going home and telling my mom it was a waste of money to go take that test. I was like ‘I did awful. That was a total waste of my time,’ but it turned out well!”

To prepare for the exam, Adams said she used an ACT book the first time and later took a distance learning course for the math and science sections.

“The course definitely helped,” she said. “I think reading the book when I wasn’t really familiar with the test at all definitely helped because the strategies used to answer questions on the ACT are different from any other multiple choice test.”

Martin said she also took an ACT prep class through distance learning.

“I took the math, English, reading and science sections,” she said. “I think the math and reading sections probably helped the most.”

“I had a booklet, and that was helpful,” Eastburn said. “It mostly helped you pace yourself with practice tests. That’s the hardest part.”

They all agreed that the science section was the most difficult portion of the exam.

“Science and reading are both tough because it’s a lot to read in a short amount of time,” Martin said.

Adams said she plans to go to college to pursue a liberal arts degree.

“I’m really interested in theatre, film and political science,” she said. “I don’t know where I’m going yet, though.”

Eastburn said she will attend Arkansas State University in Jonesboro and pursue a mathematics education degree.

Arnold said he will attend the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville to pursue a business degree.

Martin said she will also attend the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville and pursue a nursing degree.

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