Two of my biggest passions in life are baseball/softball and helping students raise their Math ACT scores. With more than 40 years on the diamond and 10+ years as an ACT Math tutor, I’ve noticed some incredible similarities. Here are my top 5 tips for my baseball/softball players on how they can translate what they do on the field and apply it to the ACT test.
- Make mistakes, but learn from them. There is a reason you have ball practice what seems like every day of the week. The goal is to learn new concepts, but also to make mistakes. Mistakes made in practice are correctable before you get on the field. This reinforced practice helps you work through these. Similarly, students need to take multiple practice tests. I tell my students – make mistakes… but make them with me. The goal for students who are unable to solve a problem, is to identify WHY it was wrong and then correct it moving forward so that they are ready to go on test day.
- Build muscle memory. The best hitters in the game STILL hit from the tee every day. Why? It’s all about building the proper mechanics and helping your body develop muscle memory. Most hitters can ‘tell’ when their swing isn’t right, so they go back to the basics and hit from the tee. For the same reason, students must study and understand the math formulas and equations to a point where they can recite them without hesitation. Without this proper foundation on the test, students who don’t know the formulas for the problems will be unable to set up the problems correctly, and if they can’t set them up, they can’t solve them. This is one of the main keys to score increases on the math section of the ACT.
- Hurry up but don’t rush. Imagine this… A very hard-hit groundball to the shortstop who backhands it in the hole. They field it clean and look up and see that the runner is just a couple steps out of the box. They COULD turn around and fire it over to first, but because they realize that they have a little extra time, they can get their feet set, and make a good strong, accurate throw. In the same way, I have students who want to rush to the end of the test. Unfortunately, when they rush, they make silly mistakes along the way. I often slow my students down to make sure that the problems that they know how to do, they take their time and get right. Nothing is more frustrating than getting a problem wrong, that you knew how to do because you rushed through it. Always be mindful of your time, but if it’s a problem that you know how to do, take a tiny bit extra time if needed (write things down, use your calculator, etc.) but make sure you get it right.
- Identify trends and patterns. For my hitters — think about the first time you step into the batters’ box and face a new pitcher you have never seen before. You’re up there just trying to make contact. By the 3rd-4th time through the lineup, you have seen every pitch that they throw, and you are much more prepared. For the same reason, students should take multiple practice tests to see these pitches (questions) to identify them and learn the best way to attack them. Familiarity with the test will help you be prepared and more comfortable.
- Surround yourself with a good coach. Seasoned coaches have been there before. They’ve seen everything. Learn from their wisdom and mistakes. Taking in their guidance allows you to avoid the pitfalls that they have made and be more effective and efficient on the field. In the same sense, find a tutor or expert who is experienced and can help guide you on the test.
Tony Miglio is the owner of NKY Tutoring, and is an ACT Math expert working with students all over the United States to raise their scores. To learn more contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 859.835.1900