Going the Distance: The Importance of Grit for Success on the ACT & SAT

I apologize in advance, but I’m about the brag about two of my students. A few months back, I talked about grit: when the going gets tough, the tough get going. For those of you who also coach athletics, you probably often talk about it, though you may not actually use that word (none of my coaches actually did). Psychologist Angela Duckworth defines grit as the tendency to maintain interest in and effort toward long-term goals.

Many students (and even some of their teachers) think of the ACT or the SAT as a test to be taken just once: one-and-done. Some students may take it twice. But, few students will take the it more than twice. In fact, some of the parents of the students that I work with are skeptical about the necessity and efficacy of taking the test more than twice. What’s the point? The point is Rome wasn’t built in a day (or two). Several studies have confirmed that students should take the ACT or the SAT early and often.

Adrian*, now a senior, took the ACT 5 times (and the SAT once). He only took the SAT after failing to score a 30 on the ACT four times (his SAT score actually converted to an ACT score of 29). He then took the ACT one last time (he didn’t even tell me he was doing so) and scored the big 30! Veni, Vici, Vidi.

Michaela*, now a senior, took the ACT 6 times and took over 30 practice ACT’s (Adrian was no slouch either; he took over 20 practice ACT’s). Let’s just call it 30 practice ACT’s. Add the 6 official ACT’s to that number, and Michaela took 36 ACT’s: THIRTY-SIX. Why so many? She wanted to attend the University of Pennsylvania and needed the scores to do so. She accomplished both. Veni, Vici, Vidi.

*Students names have been changed.

This post was written by Director of Staff and Curriculum Development & A-List Senior Tutor John Oh.


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