Featured Test Prep Student: Nicholas Dahl

December 17, 2015 

Nick_Dahl_Photograph.pngNicholas Dahl of Philadelphia is all about efficiency. The 17-year-old junior at Germantown Friends School has to be—his busy schedule includes accelerated courses, mock trial, student government, and year-round competitive running (track, cross-country, and indoor track). So when it came time to focus on preparing for the ACT test, he wanted a solution that would maximize his time. After completing a one-on-one ACT prep program with A+ Test Prep and Tutoring, Nick achieved a nearly perfect ACT score of 35 (out of a possible 36 points). Here is how he did it. 

In his sophomore year, Nick began to consider which college admissions test he would focus on, and he took a free practice SAT proctored by A+ Test Prep and Tutoring. While ultimately he decided that the ACT was a better fit for him, he and his family began to look into test prep programs, and he recalled the experience he had with the A+ practice SAT test.

“The test that was proctored was very professional,” Nick recalled. “I was given a lot of information about my score, and the breakdown of information was well done, showing me what I needed to work on. That was appealing to me.” Nick and his parents found A+ online, compared it to a few other options, and solicited recommendations from friends. After they did their research, A+ seemed like a good solution. 

“I wanted Nick to go in with the gift of confidence. I knew he had it in him to do well. That for me was a compelling reason to give him every opportunity to practice through a tutoring program,” Cynthia Dahl, Nick’s mother, said. “We wanted to use time and money wisely. Nick wanted to specifically work on science and reading comprehension, and A+ was able to craft a solution to help him achieve his goals. I appreciated the fact they could work with us and customize a plan that met what we were looking for in a program.”

Nick’s customized program consisted of seven sessions with tutor Anson Han leading up to the October 2015 ACT.

“Working with Anson was perfect for me because he was all business, which was just what I was looking for. He was really efficient with our sessions. He helped me focus on how to approach the test and specific sections,” Nick explained.

“Like many people, Nick frequently found himself in the 50/50 camp,” Han recalled. “Through several practice tests and practice questions, we honed in on eliminating choices in the test booklet, leaving the last two potential answers unmarked. Then as we reviewed test answer keys and identified incorrect questions, we kept track of the type of questions he was getting wrong, while identifying strategies to approach those questions and pick the best answer. By making him more cognizant of particular question types, he was better able to avoid making similar mistakes going forward.”

Learning such strategies helped Nick build the confidence he needed to excel on the ACT. “On the morning of test day, I felt pretty centered and comfortable. It didn’t feel like an intense experience because I had a strategy for each section,” Nick said. “It felt really good, and I had enough time to complete the test at the standard that I wanted. Tutoring had gotten me to a place where the ACT wasn’t a scary task.”

Nick’s development of strategies through effective tutoring sessions paid off—he increased his ACT composite score from a 30 to a 35, and earned a perfect 36 on the optional writing (essay) portion. 

His mom was satisfied with the service as well. “I thought the emails we received throughout the process did a good job of marking progress,” she said. “It was clear that A+ cares about the services they provide and want to ensure we are getting the most out of them.”

Nick says he would recommend A+ Test Prep and Tutoring. In fact, he’s already told his classmates about it.

“It’s important for each student to consider what’s best for them. Best for me was definitely one-to-one tutoring because it helped me reach my goals,” Nick said.  “I knew reading and science were bringing down my scores, so we wanted to fix those specific sections, and we spent our time wisely. When I went into the test, I could tell the difference. Getting a 35 on the test was what I was looking for and well within my goal—and a large part of that was due to tutoring.”

Nick isn’t too deep into his college search yet, though he knows that his interests lie in math and science, and he is currently taking as many courses as he can in those subjects. Ultimately, he would like to attend a school with strong academics as well as a good running program, since he is interested in continuing to run in college.

With Nick’s goal-oriented mindset, we know he will be successful at the next level!

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