Sunday, November 25, 2012

Review: ACT & College Preparation Course for the Christian Student

ACT & College Preparation Course for the Christian Student, by James Stobaugh, is a fabulous high school resource.

Earlier this year, I reviewed his SAT Preparation Book, which we liked, but it overwhelmed us.  The ACT title has been far easier to implement in our home, and the ACT is the test Connor is more likely to take anyway (probably in the spring, for the first time).

Stobaugh has experience in grading for various exams, and he has some definite opinions on what types of things should be done to prepare.  This includes spiritual as well as academic preparation, an approach I do appreciate.  So does Connor.

This book, along with many others by Stobaugh,  is published by Master Books, a division of New Leaf Publishing Group.  They have this to say about it:
Your ACT score is key in determining college scholarships and admissions. Prepare to excel with The ACT & College Preparation Course for the Christian Student, written by James P. Stobaugh, an experienced ACT/SAT grader, graduate of Harvard and Rutgers, as well as Princeton & Gordon Conwell seminaries. With these 50 devotion-based lessons, Stobaugh expects “Christian students should score 4 – 5 points higher on the exam.”
Whether used over the course of a year or in 50 days, high school teens will:
  • Master stress reduction techniques and test-taking skills
  • Complete exercises designed to hone their English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science skills
  • Improve reading skills, vocabulary development, and comprehension
  • Strengthen essay skills for the optional writing portion of the exam
  • Develop and strengthen their faith in God and the authority of His Word
This book includes a bit of introductory material that includes information about the ACT and how it differs from the SAT.  The bulk of the book consists of 50 lessons -- which can be done daily for about two months, weekly for a calendar year, or you can email the author for his recommendations for completing the course over a semester.

We chose to do a lesson a week here.  We are not doing this quite as Stobaugh recommends (we wouldn't be homeschoolers if we didn't tweak some!), but here is what a week looks like in our house (I chose lesson 13):
  • Monday: Read the devotion -- this one relates to evangelical Christians in secular universities.  Read the scripture for the lesson (Exodus 13:14-16) and start memorizing it.  Read the prayer point with me -- this one relates to integrity.  Complete the math section of the lesson.  This one is a word problem relating to ticket sales.
  • Tuesday:  Continue with the scripture memorization and the prayer point.  Do the vocabulary section.  This one was pretty lengthy, relating to Don Quixote, and suggesting a number of vocabulary words relating to that work.  I didn't know all of the words -- rubicund, obduracy, avidity.  I could guess at the meanings.  
  • Wednesday: Continue with the scripture memorization and the prayer point.  Review vocabulary.  Do the Reading section.  This one involves reading for details and is related to Shakespeare.
  • Thursday: Continue with the scripture memorization and the prayer point.  Review vocabulary. Do the English section.  This one talks of active and passive voice.  He rewrites passive voice sentences to active voice, but also rewrites active voice sentences to passive voice ones.  Do the Science section.  This lesson has photograph of a home and asks questions about how the design would be advantageous to rural northern Wisconsin residents.  The science section is usually fun (for Connor) so we combine it with the English day.
  • Friday: Continue with the scripture memorization and the prayer point.  Review vocabulary. Do the Writing section.  This lesson relates to drawing conclusions and has the student reading a short poem and answering some true/false questions.  More often, this section takes a lot more time for Connor, so we want to have it on its own day.
In addition, he is supposed to be reading around 50 pages a day.  There is a pretty amazing booklist in an appendix, and we went through that, making notes of books he is going to be reading for Stobaugh's literature program.  He has been choosing other titles to work through.  Right now, he is (re)reading The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

Other appendices include suggestions for learning vocabulary, for creating a reading journal, a devotional journal, and Greek and Latin morphemes.

Our plan is to work through this at a pace of a lesson a week.  Connor will be taking the ACT later in his 10th grade year, and he will not have completed this book at that point.  We think he will benefit more from utilizing this material at a slow and steady pace than by trying to finish it before his first ACT exam.

After completing this book, he feels confident that he will be prepared to attack the SAT book.  He already finds that volume less confusing.  We'll decide what pace to use there, but I think that will be a slow and steady thing too.

Great book.  We love it.

You can watch a video book trailer here:

Disclaimer:   I received this book for free from New Leaf Publishing Group.  No other compensation was received.  The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review.   


Sheila in OK said...

Thanks for the review! I recently purchased the SAT book and I agree, it's pretty overwhelming. Maybe I should try this one instead, since it is also the test my dd is most likely to take.

I am LOVING the booklist in the SAT book, though. Is it basically the same list in the ACT book?

Joy said...

Thanks for sharing this review! my daughter is in 9th grade and I have been looking for something to help out with the college prep!

Debra said...

Sheila - I think the booklist is the same. That was something I was going to look up, but we packed away the SAT book and I didn't feel like going to get it!

This appendix references the one in the SAT book though...

Oh, and something else I meant to put in my review was that the first two lessons in here had us pulling out our hair a bit. I don't know why...probably the overwhelming looking lists of math skills and stuff. After that, though, it has been so easy to implement.