This week, we met two students from Turkey who scored high on the ACT® test and are soon heading to their top-choice universities in the United States. We knew we would meet two bright, hardworking students, but little did we know we would encounter such a degree of tenacity and persistence, not to mention their multi-faceted approach to schooling.
Ege Atila, a senior high school student from Istanbul, Turkey, scored a successful 33 Composite score (out of 36) on the ACT test, helping him achieve his ambition to study music in the United States. He is now getting ready to pursue his dream of becoming a songwriter and composer, taking the first steps to study music at the prestigious University of Chicago.
Ege followed a structured way of preparing for the ACT. After initially studying each section separately, he paired English and science, then math and reading, and then finally attempted full, timed practice tests with his tutor. “Math was not a problem for me, because most of it was covered within our school curriculum,” he said. Ege was told to continuously read books and various articles in English to practice and prepare for the ACT, especially the reading section, where timing is very important. “An extra 5 minutes on this section would have made a difference to my score.”
As Ege prepares to start his journey to university education, his advice to high school students is: “You must start preparing for the exam from 10th grade, by reading, completing practice tests and quizzes, and keeping on with your hobbies. Whilst studying, you can feel demotivated from time to time, but continuing to do things that you enjoy, which in my case was writing songs and making music, will help keep your spirits high.”
When asked for one key point students should remember when preparing for the ACT, Ege simply answered, “time management.”
Selin attended summer school at the Ivy League university and knew immediately she wanted to study there. She maintained contact with the admission office for a year, as well as visiting multiple times and shadowing students. “They had to take me on,” she says. Her tenacity does not end there—she committed to the IB program at her school and worked very hard at it. She also committed to completing two to four practice tests a week. Conscious that English is her second language, she said, “I need to learn a language in its natural sound, so I would read, watch TV series and listen to English songs.”
Selin made sure she had time to participate in sports and her other hobbies, like playing the piano, where she achieved a certificate from the London College of Music. At such a young age, Selin also managed to complete her Pilates Teaching certification and was involved in many social responsibility projects during her work with the Young Guru Academy. “These projects merged technology and business together, so they were a great plus for me during my university application processes.”
Selin recommends that students preparing for the ACT need to be very focused on their studies to pace themselves and answer each question in the given time. “For university applications, students should also try and participate in various projects, which are related to the area where they wish to work. It will provide them a good reference and also an important experience.”
Selin’s ambition is to establish her own start-up company, creating an app that will have a social impact on people’s lives.