CHEROKEE — School officials want to provide Southeast High School students every chance they can to get into the college or university of their choice, and to have a better chance of getting scholarship funds.

School counselor Kaci Coots said those goals were the reason the district brought in Carolyn Devane on Wednesday to conduct an ACT workshop. She said the workshop helps students become more confident in taking the college entrance test and provides them practical information on how to increase their ACT scores.

"Students tend to get frantic on the ACT because they don't know what to expect," Coots said. "It's not just your knowledge that makes a difference but it's also your test-taking skills."

Coots said about 70 percent of Southeast's graduates each year go on to advance their education after high school. The four-hour ACT Test Prep Class provides students with tips on what types of questions to expect and how to best tackle them.

Devane provides similar workshops across the state. One of the main aspects of taking the ACT she stressed to students is that it is timed.

"You need to learn how to maximize your time by speeding up your reading and, for math, brushing up your algebra skills," Devane said to about 15 students who had paid $36 for the workshop.

She urged students to get copies of retired ACT tests which are available for review.

"That will help you know what type of questions to expect," Devane said. "We've seen big jumps on scores from students who have spent time on their own studying and focusing on silent, sustained reading."

Devane said students who have put that into practice can increase their ACT test scores by as much as 10 points — which can mean a better chance of getting into the college of their choice and a better chance to earn more scholarships.

"Practice is a key word here. By practice you gain confidence and that helps you relax and perform better," Devane said.

Coots said putting those tips into practice has the potential to impact the students' lives for years to come by helping them get a better education.

"It's really amazing what a difference a point or two — or a few points can make in their options," Coots said. E

ven for multiple choice questions where a student may not know the answer but with tips they can increase their chance of choosing the right answer through an educated process of elimination.

"It's really awesome what she teaches them," Coots said. This is the second year the ACT workshop has been hosted at Southeast, she said.

— Mike Elswick is a staff writer for The Morning Sun. He can be emailed at melswick@morningsun.net or follow him on Twitter @ mike_elswick.