ACT advice and college summer programs/ extracurricular activities

My son is an 8th grader and did the ACT test last February. His composite score is 30, English is 27, Math is 29, Science is 29 and Reading is 33. His essay is 8/10 = 27. Any suggestions on how to help him improve in the coming years so that he can get a good score as a junior? Also, I heard that there are colleges like Duke who you can submit your ACT scores to and you can then qualify for certain summer programs or extracurricular programs year round. Can anyone share more details related to great programs for people who have a good ACT score? (whether they are related to good colleges or outside of these) How do these programs benefit the student? My child is into Speech and Debate, Reading, Math and Fencing. Any advice is appreciated.

One more clarification, my son is considering being a lawyer or doing something related to STEM. He is just an 8th grader though and things may still change.

Duke (TIP) and Johns Hopkins (CTY) have gifted programs that use SAT and ACT scores to qualify. They offer online courses, but I don’t commend them. They also summer courses on college campuses, which I highly recommend. My D has taken Game Theory and Neuroscience, and will be taking Fast-paced High School Physics (Intro 1st yr Physics course in 3 weeks) to take AP Physics next.

Long term ACT gains come from solid coursework at school. Depending on where he is in math, he may have one more year to learn topics that are on the test (or not - it tops out at Algebra 2). Continued reading, writing, grammar studies, etc., will help on the Reading/Writing side.

I wouldn’t bother doing any actual test prep for a while - maybe 6 months before testing. Scores taken up through 8th grad are deleted, but starting next year they stay on his record, somI’d say no more official testing until Junior year. Khan has good prep material (SAT and ACT are very similar these days), and both organizations publish sample tests, which are good practice.

There are several threads at the top of the forum here with prep suggestions, books, tutoring ideas, etc.

He has a good score as an 8th grader, but it counts for nothing right now, as far as college is concerned. The best prep is for him to learn and grow for a couple more years, at least. He can’t be considered for National Merit without taking the PSAT as a junior. He then needs to follow that with a very high SAT or ACT score. Not that National Merit is a huge deal, but its it literally years too early to even think about test prep. The tests could be redesigned or have important changes by then anyway, so slow down.

By and large, unless a student gets a seriously prestigious award or accomplishes something pretty outstanding as a middle schooler, colleges do not consider anything done before high school. There are a ton of summer activities for a kid to do in the summer, and now is a good time to look. But it’s also important to let your kid be just that. High school is coming soon. Save the stress for now.

At that age my advice to increase the ultimate score is to encourage him to read. The more you read, the easier English, Reading and Science (which is basically reading with charts) will be. If he is that high already at Math then once he gets a couple more classes under his belt he should be in good shape.

Other than that, I wouldn’t think much about this for a few years.

I agree with the suggestion that he continue to read as widely as possible. There is no substitute for reading, reading, and then reading some more.

How did your son take the ACT in 8th Grade? Was he invited? My son was invited by Northwestern.

Way to early to be worrying about an ACT score in 8th grade. If he got a 30 composite as an 8th grader, my guess is that your son will do just fine when the time comes. But be advised, a high ACT (or SAT) score doesn’t mean much if you are gunning for elite schools. All it does is check one of many boxes that need to be checked. I say this as a parent of a kid who got a 36 on the ACT on the first try in October of Junior year.