Tuesday, October 9, 2012

How To Study To Get the Best Score

Studying hard for the ACT test is definitely not always the best way to get a high score. When I explain that the parents, they are as shocked as their teenagers are happy! The fact is that just working hard is no guarantee of a high ACT test score and at times, working hard studying can actually lower your score.

How To Study for the ACT Test

The most common mistake students make is, when in their finest moments of dedication and self-discipline, they resolve to spend a certain number of hours and days studying for the ACT test. This is totally backwards.

No professional athlete, for example, just resolves to spend a certain amount of time training without focusing specifically on what areas need to be focused on. The dedication and self-discipline should be committed to learning certain skills that will result in a high ACT test score, regardless of the time required. The goal is a high score: not a lot of time studying.

When NOT to Study for the ACT Test

The two most important times not to study for the ACT test are the night before the test and anytime you have been at it for an hour. Studying the night before the test just stresses you out and hurts your ability to go to sleep relaxed, at the very time you need a very good night's sleep.

Studying for more than an hour is a waste of time, as your mind needs a break in order to retain what you are studying. If you covered important information during the second or third hour of your marathon study session, that is information not likely to come to you on test day.

The best way to study for the ACT is to take a look at your current score, whether it is from a practice test or a real ACT, and determine what areas you need to study first. Usually, you'll find that the best way to study is by not studying the subject matter of the test, English, Math Reading and Science, but rather studying HOW to be an efficient test taker.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

How High Do I Need To Score To Get Scholarships

Everyone who asks me to advise them on increasing their ACT score is concerned about doing well enough to get scholarships to help pay for college. It seems that this is a bigger concern than getting a score that is high enough to get them into the school of their choice.

The first thing that I tell them is that they have to be realistic. Increasing an ACT test score of 18 to a 25 is a lot more achievable than increasing a 25 to a 32, even though both increases are the same 7 point spread. That's not to say that it can't be done, but the higher your score, the more difficult increasing each point becomes.

In order to qualify for more scholarships, you generally need an ACT test score of about 25 to 27. How hard is that? Well, the national average ACT test score is 21.1, so getting 5 points above that really sets you apart.

The average test score for students of each state varies widely, from 18.7 in Mississippi to 24.1 in Massachusetts. This is also something to consider when you are setting a goal. The easiest thing to do is go onto the website of the college you are considering and, under the "Admissions" section, they will have the average GPA and ACT test score of incoming freshmen. They Financial Aid section will usually list the bigger scholarships and whether there are any minimums for GPA or ACT score to qualify.

The fact is that a lot can change between the time you are taking the ACT test and when your college admission packet is reviewed and scholarships determined. The best thing is to learn how to work smart instead of just working hard in order to make yourself a better test taker and thereby improve your ACT score dramatically.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

What If I Bomb the ACT Test? What Do I Do Next

I often get calls from parents and students panicking after a bad ACT test score. I tell them all the same thing; it's not time to worry yet! The good news is that when you really bomb a test, the fix to significantly increase your score is usually a lot simpler and easier than turning a pretty good score into a great score.

Step #1: Stop and Analyze

Before you panic looking at a low composite score, take the time to analyze what caused the poor performance. Ask yourself these questions:

Did you do poorly on all four subject tests or did just one or two drag down your overall score?
Did you have time to finish all the questions when you took the test or did you run out of time?
How were you feeling when you took the test? Sick, tired, full of anxiety?
Was this your first ACT test? Had you taken a practice test before this one?
Step #2: Figure Out a Game Plan

If you just did poorly across all four subject tests and you were full of anxiety or not feeling well physically, then the easy answer is that it may have just been a bad day. If you don't have a history of bombing tests, this is the most likely reason. Set aside 3 1/2 hours next Saturday morning and do a full practice test to verify that it just wasn't your day.

If you had trouble answering all the questions on time, then you need to hone your test taking skills in order to get through the test with time to spare. Any time you are feeling rushed, your score will suffer.

Step #3: Retake the ACT Test

Once you have figured out what happened and develop a strategy to address those issues, you will want to retake the test. Most students take it more than once, so don't feel bad.

If you need help putting a strategy together, get a good, inexpensive online course to help you.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Test Dates and Deadlines

The 2013 ACT test dates and deadlines are as follows, along with important information on how to study and get a high score:

February 9th, 2013 ACT Test

Registration Deadline: January 11, 2013

April 13th, 2013 ACT Test

Registration Deadline: March 8, 2013

June 8th, 2013 ACT Test

Registration Deadline: May 3, 2013

Probably the most important thing to remember about the ACT is that you can take is more than once, and you should. Ideally, you should take it the first time at least three to four months before you retake it, so that you have plenty of time to get an ACT study course to zero in on your weak areas.

The easiest and quickest way to increase your score is by targeting only the areas that you need the most improvement on, generally in the Math and English portions of the test. However, if you scored below a 23 on either Science or Reading, there are some very simple ways to bring those scores up as well.

The most important key to increasing your test score is that you spend enough time on learning the simple test-taking skills that will get you through the questions quickly and easily. Most students make the mistake of spending all their time studying the content; that is, the Math and English and Science and Reading.

With good test taking skills, you will be able to save a lot of time and not feel so rushed during th test. Then you will be less stressed and make fewer "stupid" mistakes, which brings up your score. Add to that, the test-taking skills will help you guess much better and get even more questions right.

So when you are looking at the 2013 ACT test dates and registration deadlines, consider that you need to also look into a simple ACT study course that will teach you those skills.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

How Do I Get Certified As a Certified Coding Specialist

A Certified Coding Specialist-Physician-Based or CCS-P describes a medical coding practitioner certified by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). These individuals are specialized in physician-based settings such as offices, practices, clinics, or specialized medical settings. They are responsible for reviewing patient's records and also assigning numeric codes for each diagnosis and procedure. Coding practitioners have an in-depth knowledge of the CPT coding system and are experts in health information, documentation, integrity, and quality. Since the coded data from patient's is submitted to insurance companies for reimbursement, coding specialists play a critical role in the healthcare field. There are many certifications available such as the AAPC CPC, but many coding specialists are also CCS-P certified.

By becoming certified, the employment for these coding specialists is highly favorable. Health professionals who perform coding in a healthcare setting should consider obtaining this certification in order to testify to their abilities. This certification exam assesses a mastery-level proficiency rather than an entry-level skill.

There are several eligibility requirements that must be passed in order to take the exam. Any candidate for the exam must have a high school diploma from a school in the United States or have achieved an equivocal education. There is also a list of requirements and candidates must meet one of the eligibility requirements on the list in order to take the exam. They must have completed a coding training program, have had two years of experience, are credentialed, or be credentialed and have one year of coding experience. These are the basic requirements and it is unlikely that a candidate who is not eligible to take the exam would be unable to pass it.

While these are not requirements, there are some training and recommendations for exam candidates. They are recommended to have six months of coding experience where they have directly applied codes. It is also recommended that individuals have completed an AHIMA approved coding program or that the individual has completed another coding training program that covered similar material.

The AHIMA CCS-P exam is a fairly basic test. For members of AHIMA, it costs $299, and for non-members, the cost is $399. The test has a multiple choice section with 88 single response items. It also contains a multiple select section of 8 questions. This is followed by a fill in the blank section of 13 medical record cases. This section of the test requires examinees to perform diagnostic and procedural coding. The time limit for the test is four hours without any breaks.

After testing, immediate scoring is available if enough candidates have taken the exam. The passing score will vary slightly and the Angoff procedure is used to set the minimum passing score. The passing scores are published after enough candidates have taken the exam.

After completing the application materials, all candidates will receive a document saying that they are authorized to test, or ATT. After receiving the letter, the candidate has four months to take the exam and will have to reapply if they do not complete the testing within that window. If the candidate does not pass the exam, they must wait 91 days before being eligible to take the exam again. These are the basic requirements and specifications for the CCP-S exam.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

How Much Does a Certified Medical Coder Make

If you're wondering how much does a certified medical coder make, especially in these challenging times then do read on. Joining the industry of medical coding may be the right one for you because it offers great career opportunities with high salaries. Medical coding is on the rise, and there is a healthy demand for certified professionals. The increased need to provide universal access to health care and the increased use of electronic means makes medical coding a growing industry in the years to come.

The figures and analysis here are from the 2012 AAPC Health Care Salary Survey, and they reveal that people in the health care industry continues to be well compensated from the work they do. The list of professionals that responded to this survey includes educators, auditors, practice managers, billers and coders.

According to the survey, the recession in 2008 may have affected this industry like any others, but the years that have passed brought back new opportunities. From the recession, professionals in this industry have reported not only an increased opportunity for growth, but better decision making skills in their workplace.

Average salary for a medical coder

According to the 2012 survey, the average medical coder can earn $47,870 annually. This average medical coding salary involved both the non-certified and certified medical coders, but if you break down the actual earnings of non-credentialed and credentialed medical coders, you will get a significant difference on medical coding salaries. The figures below shows the salaries of medical coders according to their certifications or credentials.

1. A Certified Professional Coder or a CPC gets to earn $47,796 annually. 
2. All coders holding AAPC credentials get to earn $48,033 annually. 
3. Those with specialty credentials can earn $54,145 in a year. 
4. A Certified Professional Coder-Payer or CPC-P earns an average of $55,255, which is $3,800 higher than last year's average. 
5. A Certified Professional Coder-Hospital Outpatients or CPC-H, on the other hand, earns $56,466 with an increase of $1,800 from last year. 
6. A Certified Professional Medical Auditor or CPMA earns $59,365 with an increase of $3,200 from last year.

Salary for certified medical coder

Based on the figures, you can clearly see that those who are credentialed get to have higher salaries although there is a slow and steady growth of medical coding salaries from previous years. This means that those who have credentials get the most advantages out of their work from financial to professional development.

The medical coding salaries not only differ by the credentials, but also by the workplace. All workers have an increased salary by 9.7% as compared to last year's statistics. Those who worked in facilities earned more, but have the least salary raises. Those working in solo practice may have lower salaries, but have the most increase from $40,290 in 2010 to $45,312 in 2012.

The job responsibilities of the medial coders also dictate the amount that they get. More so, education and credentials greatly affects the rate of medical coders. Also, there are more jobs today that need medical coders with credentials than before. This means that credentialed medical coders are more in demand as years pass by so getting one for you is beneficial.

There are a lot of factors that affect the medical coding salaries, but one thing is sure, getting credentials, choosing your work setting and getting further education will place you at the top of the highest paid medical coders.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Registration Strategy and Tips

When you register for the ACT test date held in February each year, there are a few tips that you need to keep in mind. I am constantly asked by parents what is the best month to take the ACT and what is the strategy for taking it more than one time. With that in mind, let's take a look at the Do's and Don'ts.

Why the February ACT Test Dates are Ideal

The biggest advantage of taking the ACT test in February is that you have the Christmas break to study and you have plenty of time after getting your score report to study for a retake on the June test date.

If you are taking the ACT for the first time in February, you should really prepare yourself by at least taking a full-blown practice test before that date. Just the familiarity with taking the full 3 1/2 hour test once before will help improve your score.

Retaking the ACT Test on the June Test Date

About three weeks after you take the ACT in February, you will receive your score report. The thing to do is to look past your "composite score" and focus on the English and Math sub-scores.

These will tell you exactly where you can focus your studying efforts to quickly bring up your score. "Just studying everything" is a very poor strategy that ensures you will work a lot harder than you have to.

Consider an ACT Prep Course

A very good strategy to increase your score over what you got on the February ACT test is to find a short, economical ACT prep course that will allow you to zero in on the exact areas where you need the most help. This will give you the quickest boost to your score.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

What Parents Need To Know

Many parents come to me with frustration and anxiety, worried that their student is not going to do well enough on the ACT test to get into the college of their choice or qualify for scholarships to help pay for them.

My answer is always the same; sometimes less is more. The more you stress out about your student's ACT test score, the more they will feel pressured. That is never a good thing with a test as important as the ACT.

Two ways that parents try to help their students that actually end up hurting them are: spending a lot of money on ACT prep courses and badgering them to study.

The reason that spending a lot of money on ACT prep courses is such a bad idea is that it just raises the stakes, and the pressure, on your student. Keep your expenses on ACT prep lower, at least at first, and let your student see some return on investment. Only then should you consider spending more.

The other way that students have trouble with increased anxiety is with their parents reminding them constantly to study. It is actually the most beneficial to study for shorter periods of time more frequently. When feeling hounded by their parents, students tend to put in marathon study sessions, although only once in a while, to get their parents off their back. Marathon study sessions are not very effective, and they are dreaded by most students anyway.

The best way for a parent to help their student get a high score on the ACT test is to back off and be confident that they will do their best. This confidence can come from a brief, inexpensive online video course like that from College Exam Tutor that will keep the pressure low, while strategically positioning your student for a dramatic increase in ACT test score.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

ACT Scoring and the Average ACT Score

The ACT (American College Test) is a national college admissions exam that tests knowledge and ability in four major subject areas:

The exam format is 215 multiple choice questions, broken into four separate tests, and also a separate thirty minute writing test. ACT test results are accepted by all four year universities and colleges across the United States.

Across the nation, an average of over 43% of high school graduates have taken the ACT before they graduate. The Midwest and Rocky Mountain region have the highest percentage of students taking the ACT test. Nearly all high school students in Michigan, Colorado and Illinois take the test before they graduate.

The ACT test is much less popular in the north Atlantic. In Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, and Delaware under 20% of high school graduates take the ACT..

Average ACT Scores 
ACT scores, grades, and class rank are the main criteria a college uses to determine if an applicant will be accepted. The ACT test scores out of 36 points, with a possible score range from 1 to 36. The nationwide average ACT score is fairly consistent from year to year, and was just over 21.1 in 2009. Nearly 30% of ACT takers score between 19 and 23. Over 55% of all ACT takers score between 17 and 25. While technically it is possible a student can score a 1 on the ACT, over 99% of students earn a 12 or above.

The average ACT score fluctuates from state to state. The states typically having the highest average ACT test scores are Washington (23.1), Connecticut (23.3), Massachusetts (23.6), and New York (23.1).

The states scoring the lowest were Florida (19.8), Washington DC (19.1), and Mississippi (18.9).

The minimum ACT required score for admission will differ for each school. Although there are exceptions, most public colleges require an 18.

Most Ivy League schools only accept applicants whose ACT scores are in the 90th percentile, which in most years equates to a minimum score of 28.

Achieving a 36 on the ACT does not require getting every question correct, but is difficult nonetheless. Only 1 in every 4,000 students earn a 36.

Typically a score over 34 puts a student in the top percentile. A score of 30 is considered to be very good and is only earned by the top 4% of all students.

How the ACT is Scored 
The ACT score is calculated by using the average of the scores from all four test sections. All of the sections are scored on a scale of 1 to 36. If the average score is not a whole number, the ACT rounds the score up to the nearest whole number. Like other standardized admissions tests, the ACT has created a "College Readiness Benchmark" for each subject area.

The readiness benchmark is supposed to be an accurate gauge of whether a student is intellectually and academically ready for college. The ACT college readiness minimum benchmark scores are 22 for mathematics, 18 for English, 21 for reading, and 24 for science. The weighted average of all four of the college readiness benchmarks is 21.25, which means a student who gets a 21.1 does not meet the level of readiness that the ACT indicates is required to succeed in college. Surprisingly, the ACT reports that only 23% of all test takers in 2009 exceeded the benchmarks in all of the categories.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Studying for the ACT Test

The best way of studying for the ACT test is surprising to most people, because studying the test material more is usually not the answer. The answer is not simply doing more practice tests either.

The key to studying for the ACT test is realizing that the majority of what is on the test is the material you have been mastering all throughout high school, and although a review is in order, the highest scores are gotten by the students who are good test takers.

Test taking skills are crucial, because knowing the material is not nearly enough. The ACT test is timed and everyone who has taken it will tell you that time management is the key. If you can't get all the questions answered in time, it really doesn't matter how much you know.

There are a few time management strategies that are commonly accepted but very, very wrong. The most popular "strategy" involves rushing through the early questions on the Math test because those are supposedly the easiest and you need to save time for the questions that are at the end. This is a horrible strategy.

The best way to study for the Math portion of the ACT test, for instance, is to master the "easy" questions so that you can quickly solve them and have more time for the harder ones. That means studying the "easy" stuff like pre-algebra and basic geometry. Most students get hung up on studying trigonometry, but there are only four trig questions on the whole Math test.

Remember that studying for the ACT test means learning test taking skills that will help you not only with the ACT, but all throughout college as well. Get an affordable, strategic ACT prep course that teaches these skills and you will be on your way to your best possible score.