My ACT Story
“Continuing my hobbies made the preparation process much less stressful”
Name: Melissa Emerson
School: Işıkkent Eğitim Kampüsü (Işıkkent Education Campus – High School), Izmir, Turkey
Q: When did you take the ACT® test and what was your ACT Composite score?
A: I took the test in October 2017 and received a 35.
Q: Which university are you attending, and what degree programme will you study?
A: Columbia University, Physics
Q: Physics? That’s very interesting—what attracted you to that field?
A: I enjoy spending time on physics in my free time, usually studying from books about topics like quantum mechanics, optics, biophysics, etc. With physics, every question I have ends up with an explanation, and I like that I can see it everywhere I look. Its wide-ranging applications and systematic approach attract me. Science, in general, is intriguing and satisfying, so even if I change my mind about becoming a physicist, what I do will always be about science or math.
Q: Why did you decide to take the ACT?
A: I am more comfortable with the type of math questions asked on the ACT, enjoy analyzing data from experiments, and work well with limited time.
Q: What is your career choice?
A: Physicist or pathologist
Q: How did you prepare for the ACT?
A: I took a few private lessons at the beginning, February of 11th grade, then did practice tests on my own, mostly from the official tests released by ACT. After taking timed practice tests, I reviewed topics I had trouble with. Most of my preparation was for the English and reading sections because those were where I usually made mistakes. Spending more time on topics I had trouble with, rather than practicing what I could already do over and over again, helped me manage my time. Good time management helped me achieve the score I desired.
Q: What are your hobbies, and did you continue them while preparing for the ACT?
A: I play the piano, read, and draw quite frequently. I suppose continuing my hobbies made the preparation process much less stressful. In addition to my hobbies, the activities I did in school such as MUN (Model United Nations) or Interact generally lifted my mood and inspired me during the college application process later on.
Q: Can you talk more about your experiences with MUN (Model United Nations)?
A: Including JMUN (Junior Model United Nations), I was part of the club for seven years and became Vice President in my last year. Conferences were very enjoyable, especially with friends, and the club helped me improve my verbal and written communication skills. I also learned about other cultures and contemporary world issues that we don’t talk about enough in our daily lives. I think MUN makes you a better person if you do it properly because it makes you think about how you can improve the world from a young age.
Q: What is one thing that you would recommend to other students preparing for the ACT?
A: Read frequently in a higher-level English if you have a few months to prepare. If you have less time, time your tests and look at your mistakes. Also, a calm mind could help you more than sleepless nights.
Q: You spoke about having a calm mind as being helpful. Can you talk about ways you maintained your calm?
A: I didn’t take anything I liked out of my life, like my hobbies and hanging out with friends. I scheduled my day so I could both study and do those. Therefore, I got the chance to relieve stress before it built up. Playing the piano was especially a stress reliever. I am generally a calm person, so I didn’t have much problem with that, but keeping the little things you like can go a long way for anyone.