#090 Should my teen take the Online ACT? with Adam Snoza Transcript


Lisa Marker Robbins  00:53

The AC t will be available in an online test format for Saturday testing starting in December 2023. As a matter of fact, I’m working with students who are already registered for it. And they had a really tough time finding availability for the online version of the test in my large metropolitan area. While some are excited about this test, many want to hang on to paper testing. Well, there’s good news, the paper AC T isn’t going away. Now students will have a choice in testing format. Adam snuza has spent 15 years in AC t test prep with his company in Omaha, Nebraska. And he is here to help you navigate the choice of online AC T testing. I’m Lisa Mark Robbins and I want to welcome you to College and Career Clarity, a flourish coaching production. Let’s dive right in to a great conversation. Adam, welcome to the show.


Adam Snoza  02:00

Lo Thank you for having me.


Lisa Marker Robbins  02:03

Oh, wow. You know what? You were the first guy that came to mind because I know that AC t test prep is your specialty. And yeah, there’s a lot of areas of the country where people are more focused on LSAT, and we talked on Episode 60, with David blow bomb about the digital LSAT that’s coming in 2024. And we didn’t realize that Saturday online AC T testing would be coming soon, but it’s here. So talk us through the rollout of this online AC t tests like what is what’s registration look like? What’s the rollout and what is 2024 home for us.


Adam Snoza  02:47

So the rollout, in my opinion is a little bit shaky er than I would like it to be the the idea of competing with the sa t in trying to offer a digital alternative. While I don’t mind it, allowing students to have a choice instead of the LSAT, where they just mandated everybody switch over. One of the things that I found troublesome is that they have different platforms for practice testing. I’ve seen states were given test nav for their practice test, you can use the international one which uses a different cloud format, then you have the one on the CT website, which uses a Tao format, and then even Wiley, the book that publishes the test as a fourth format. So which one is going to come up in December? Well, I think it’s the one on the website. But there’s a little bit of insecurity when it comes to students, what’s the thing to prep for? So I think that aspect of the rollout, knowing what program format we’re going to actually see on test day is potentially scary. And students might practice on the wrong thing unwittingly. And the other thing that I’m concerned with is access. I’m thinking of schools that are going to try to actually have this digital AC T but limited space, they don’t have enough computers, there’s just going to be technology issues. So a student that wants to take this might have limited seats available to them depending on again their location. So a couple interesting things.


Lisa Marker Robbins  04:33

Yeah. So first of all, something I heard you say in there is you apologize. That’s okay. Like one of the first things that you said was I’m gonna insert my own thoughts it was that you believe that this is in response to the digital LSAT rolling out like digital SATs coming so you feel like this is AC T’s response to that Is that your best guess? I mean, we’re not setting it AC in Iowa City. But


Adam Snoza  05:06

true. I don’t know which one of us would technically be closer, but maybe we can get the vibes going. So as far as response, I do know that this may have been an independent thought, because the AC T was originally going to roll out their digital stuff back in 2020 when they’re going to do digital testing with subject testing, but that got backburner. They’ve been doing subject testing in for their foreign market for the international market for many, many years now. And while I believe that was actually more for security and cost reasons, you know, getting booklets all the way across the country for all the students. Imagine be quite expensive. But I don’t know if it’s a cost provision if it’s a response to the SATs move. But I do know that they did hold back, they held back on rolling it out until you know the LSAT had theirs first.


Lisa Marker Robbins  06:12

So let me ask you a question. Because, as you already mentioned, the online AC T has already been available internationally. Yes. And it for those states, not every state does this, but for those states that give a state funded or a district wide during the school days, which AC T calls at school day testing, imagine that. They’ve already had this online version, do you know which of those platforms that online school day test has been hasn’t been the one that’s on the AC T website for practice right now.


Adam Snoza  06:50

And that I’ll admit, I don’t 100% No, like I said, I did see a state that was given test nav as their practice test for the district testing. But no confirmation from that school. It was just a student that I heard. I’m in Nebraska, so our schools are still paper. This year, I come to find out that this year, I have my first school that switched over, so I’m going to have a fun little conversation with their counselor.


Lisa Marker Robbins  07:20

Well, it’s interesting because this is, and that’s one of my concerns. When I think about, you know, here in the Greater Cincinnati area, we had a school of very large high school last year switch from paper for school day testing to online. And it before the Saturday online rolls out in December that had students you know, taking on the school day one format, and then on a Saturday, another format. So I think, you know, AC T at least students can try to be consistent, but this hits your point of, you know, is there going to be wide availability, because I logged into the AC t.org site, you know, I have an account and I went as if I were going to register for a test and now it pops up like do you want to look for online schools? Or do you want to look for paper schools? So you know, you you choose that? And when I saw I selected online for fun to see what would pop up? Okay, well, there’s almost two and a half million people in the Greater Cincinnati area in December, there was one test site in the Greater Cincinnati area. In February for the February I think it’s the 10th AC T, there’s two sites. And one of them actually is in Dayton, Ohio, which is, you know, almost an hour north of us. So I do think availability is might be rough and that’s really hard for kids. So what changes like can you kind of describe I know you’ve actually had the privilege of taking an actual online AC T in the past why? Why did you get to do that?


Adam Snoza  09:01

I’m jealous. So the sorry, I don’t know about jealous but bragging No, sorry, I so I’m AC T certified. I took my certification program through the AC T was called AC T certified educator. Now it’s called AC T instructional mastery, which shortens to aim, which I don’t know how much I love that being from aim high test prep. But I’m not I’m not only took it. I’m also an instructor for that program, traveling to different states working with school districts. But as part of my certification, originally, you had to take an actual AC T Subject Test for each subject, you’re certified. So I took all of those tests in the online format class


Lisa Marker Robbins  09:48

math, three, science,


Adam Snoza  09:51

every single one because you had to demonstrate competency at a certain level in order to earn the badge and yeah They, that was my first experience with it. It was, let’s call it interesting.


Lisa Marker Robbins  10:05

Okay, so let’s then. So interesting is a very nice word, let’s talk about if it’s if a student would opt for, or maybe they find out like a large number of kids that we serve in the Greater Cincinnati area I did last year, that suddenly they’re going to be taking the online AC t, what can they expect to be different than the paper test?


Adam Snoza  10:31

So I’m old. So I’m going to have a little bit of a bias. But I think that that bias might be somewhat founded, I think a lot of students will go in believing that they like digital, they’re on their phones, they’re on their computers all the time, they’re used to this digital engagement, whether it’s using, turn it in, or Google Classroom, or whatever they’re used to doing their work online. So they assume the same. But there are a lot of really solid testing strategies that you can find online, that just don’t carry over into the online field. As well as the fact that some of the tools take getting used to or might actually just be a bigger waste of time. I think one of the big things that I enjoy is discussing is the timer itself.


Lisa Marker Robbins  11:27

So by tools, you mean things like the highlighter, the timer, what other tools are on the test that they might have to figure out, and then I want to hear about what you’re gonna say with the timer.


Adam Snoza  11:39

Sure. So we have the magnifying glass, which I have no idea why you need that, if a student so this is a bit of advice for any students that says I love it. Well, let me give you some tips is I would recommend that you take the test, where you have a mouse and not a touchpad, and a roller. Because depending on and again, things may change depending on the software they end up using. But all of the practice tests that I’ve seen allow you to hold down Control and use the scroll wheel to magnify the screen that you’re on, which defeats the purpose of a magnifying lens, I think the only benefit to that might be if you’re trying to look at a specific point in a science graph and finding the intersection. But again, I would just scroll and scroll back to regular magnification, you have the line Eliminator, which I have not found a use for it. What it does is it allows the students to block out text probably for like a test anxiety purpose, or for, you know, maybe an eye disorder where they have difficulty reading too many lines at once, which I can acknowledge. I just don’t like the fact that it resets when you go on to the next question.


Lisa Marker Robbins  12:56

Well, you know interesting about that where you said like, so the person that you imagine could benefit from it might have some kind of a visual disability or whatever. Those students probably are going to be taking paper to pencil test anyway, or pencil to paper, I would guess


Adam Snoza  13:17

I would imagine if one can one of the benefits. So if a student has a severe dyslexia disorder, while when I have students with that, I generally teach them to use their bubble sheet to cover up lines, and so that they’re only reading one line at a time. But that doesn’t remove the lines above it. So there can still be a little bit of dyslexia for the words above it that can mix in visually within their visual field, this can narrow down to a single line


Lisa Marker Robbins  13:48

might be helpful for that student.


Adam Snoza  13:50

Absolutely. Absolutely. I’m not going to take away the the skill entirely, I can see benefits, even if I don’t like it myself or for the vast majority of students.


Lisa Marker Robbins  14:00

I mean, if you took it a year, like after that experience, like hands down, I personally would choose a paper test every day is that


Adam Snoza  14:11

100% 100% No doubt. And it’s it’s getting used to the tools. It’s knowing what tools work for you, which requires practice. There are so many cons to it that outweigh any of the pros. I mean, there are a couple of things that I do like I’ll admit that. Okay, let’s


Lisa Marker Robbins  14:31

do it. Let’s do kind of the T chart pros con. Okay. Let’s get it out of the way. You’ve got it. Let’s do it. So the positive so what are the what are the few positives out of all right.


Adam Snoza  14:43

So now if I happen to leak a negative, just letting you know it might spill out of AI, for example, the time I’ve heard people rant and rave they love the fact that in the top corner there’s a timer that tells you exactly how much time is ticking Way, which I’ve heard a lot of people say they love. And I agree because you don’t have to worry about does the clock on the wall work? Is my teacher gonna get the time right? I’ve had Proctor’s that have called the test early, because they accidentally stopped the time at the five minute warning, instead of calling the five minute warning. So I’ve had Miss proctoring more times than I can count. And I think this helps alleviate that. But because I’m, you know, again, I’m always hesitant to acquire new skills, apparently. I don’t like it for every student, because there is a time paralysis. I’ve had students multiple times, I provide a watched all my students and I remove the sound feature to it. So it can’t make a sound. But they use it as a stopwatch. It’s just a stopwatch, it can’t be. I’ve had to have students turn that away from them because they cannot stand. Seeing the time click over, they end up staring at the time rather than actually taking the test because it’s an anxiety, response. And add on, if they fix it. I’ll be happy with it. But right now, you can mask the time you can click a button and the time covers up love that solves the problem under percent, except when you go to the next question. It unmasks every question, every question, so if you want to hide it, that’s Yeah, that could change that could potentially change. I hope it does, as


Lisa Marker Robbins  16:35

you’re listening to this podcast.


Adam Snoza  16:39

Oh, I’ve already told them. I’m the one that told them they need to mask it.


Lisa Marker Robbins  16:43

But you weren’t like permanently. What actually I


Adam Snoza  16:47

did say on there the alarm at five minutes, it flashes the five minute warning at you, then that can be when it unmasks and maybe can’t be remapped after that. Some feature like that would be fine. But I can see students just staring at it because of an anxiety response. So So can


Lisa Marker Robbins  17:07

go and come up with another pro.


Adam Snoza  17:10

Oh, there we go. One of the big pros that I really like about it is in Funny enough, one of them that is kind of challenging to do in the online format, but I can see a positive highlighting of a certain section. So if there’s a English question, or there’s a reading question, and it’s asking about a certain line or a certain word, instead of like in reading, we’re used to say in paragraph three lines 32 to 38. This word most nearly means. They don’t say that anymore. They’re just like the highlighted word most nearly means and it’s right there. And it’s highlighted, and it’s really hard to miss. And so students don’t have to spend the extra 510 seconds finding where I’m supposed to look. Okay, where are my line numbers? Okay, so it’s in between 30 and 35. There’s 32. I like that. Oh, give them that Pro.


Lisa Marker Robbins  18:06

Any other pros before you move on to your cons?


Adam Snoza  18:09

Oh, oh, man, you’re, you’re really pushing me the highlighting function. I don’t hate. Because one of the issues I have with students, when they do annotation, not every student likes to do annotation as they read, you know, underlining, as they read. But the big issue I have is students will underline real wispy lines just and then how do you see that? Like, that’s not highlighting it to your brain? Like this is important. I’m like, no nice, heavy marks. And it’s like,


Lisa Marker Robbins  18:42

again, is that for a paper pencil test where we can circle it or annotate in different ways? Okay, well, your system I mean, I know your die.


Adam Snoza  18:56

I am. I’m just dying for that. So the first thing is there is an almost complete inability to skip around on passages specifically for science and reading, reading maybe a little bit better to jump around between passages because for tests, we know that they’re going to be 10 questions per however, I heard this last district test that came out one passage had nine and another had 11. So that’s gonna throw that whole thing off. But science to have the passages have six questions. We don’t know which two we don’t know where. So it’s not as if I can jump around by sevens because the other four passages will have seven questions. Right? I can’t just jump around 714 21 and go to the next passage. Because one of them has six and I might miss question one. AC t here you go. If you weren’t listening AC T. I would die in that bottom bar where it has all the cats numbers and you can see your flags and your eyeballs. A divider line, just like an unclickable line that indicates this is the end of that passage so I can more easily and consistently jump without accidentally missing the first question of that passage. Right that I would love that tool because one of the things I coach is, for example, sites, there’s a conflicting viewpoints passage. And I have students take that one first, because that’s the most time consuming one, get it out of the way. Where is it? If you’re trying to jump around on those question numbers, that’s a whole lot more time consuming and difficult than just flipping some pages. So that science, I think, the science issue that I have that I cannot get over the hardest, in my opinion, absolute hardest is the science test. Because you have to scroll to


Lisa Marker Robbins  20:55

navigating a passage on a what should be a piece of paper, but it’s on a screen? What about this, like you brought up earlier? If you can know if you’re using like a trackpad or a mouse or you know, that makes a difference, which I guess when you log in and you’re just going like I hear in Cincinnati like Milford High School is one of them that seems to be stepping up. I’m assuming it’s just by school. If a school wants to step up to do the the online AC T. i If my kid goes to a different school, my kid goes to King’s High School in Milford is offering it I don’t know what kind of computers they have. Right? So as you know, you also don’t know what size screen, right?


Adam Snoza  21:43

You funny, you mentioned that I was in Kansas City doing one of the AC T certified programs. And I had some school counselors that were there. And they that was their biggest complaint they brought in their school issued computer, and they were trying to do the the test I was administering. And they said, I’m talking to my director right away. Because this is so because they were on like a small I think it was like a 15 inch Chromebook that has a huge bezel on it. And they just couldn’t see anything.


Lisa Marker Robbins  22:14

You know, it makes me go like this would be interesting before a school stepped up and says, Hey, we want to host the online test. And adult and maybe testing or curriculum should have to try to navigate. I mean, you don’t have to take the test to try to navigate it. And you know, you mentioned that there is on the AC T website practice available. Why don’t we make sure we put like the link to that in the show notes. Because would you suggest like if you’re so you’ve obviously tried to talk people out of the online AC? Yes. Okay. That’s why I wanted to have a professional on who has taken both types of tests to prep students really only for the AC T, you’re not an AC T S A T guy, you are an AC T guy. And I thought, well, let’s get the expert and get his opinion. So if you can get me that link, we’ll put it in the show notes. Because even if Adam hasn’t talked to you out of it, and hey, I’m an endo. I’m like Consumer Reports. Right now I’m independent. I am not trying that go AC T or sa t I wanted them to hear from you. With without me I don’t have a bias in this at all. But if you haven’t talked about it probably would be wise if their student tried to navigate that test before deciding like, Yep, I’m gonna go for it on the online test.


Adam Snoza  23:43

And probably if people are going to listen to your advice, which is good advice, I would recommend that the the adult or the students that are testing it, do a little bit of both because a student will or an adult will try to figure out like I can’t. But we’re not talking about what you’re capable of. We’re talking about what is best suited for the learners what is best for a testing environment. And the biggest issue is, when your prep when the more prep you have, there’s just more tools when it’s paper compared to online. I’m not saying that online doesn’t have its pros, but there’s so many more benefits. And so I think having a student that has practice with AC T paper, then throwing them in the digital would be a fair assessment of the tool overall.


Lisa Marker Robbins  24:37

I think that’s great advice to end on. Like, don’t make an assumption. You said earlier that your student has fantastic they’re going to have a fantastic experience just because they can edit a tic tock video or do you know they live on their phones? And don’t assume that just because you can you know we talk often on This podcast about students there’s a difference between being college capable in college ready. And so you know, you might be online AC t capable, that isn’t the best choice for you. You know, as a business owner, I can do all my bookkeeping. And it’s not best for me to be the one to do it. There’s better uses of my time and talents.


Adam Snoza  25:25

And there’s a lot of money on the line. So well, that one point could be the difference.


Lisa Marker Robbins  25:29

Yeah, on getting in and earning scholarships. Absolutely. Great. Well, Adam, thank you for joining me today. Thank you for giving great advice. So this rollout starts in December. It sounds like it’s going to be a slow long runway to a lot of schools offering it so your advice right now and stick with the paper test and Iowa City Iowa if you’re listening to Adam, he he I think he’s available for hire to to advise me on how to improve it. There you go. Take care, Adam.


Adam Snoza  26:07

Thank you so much.


Lisa Marker Robbins  26:13

Well, Adam may be my most biased guest that I’ve had on the podcast so far, but I’m okay with it. I wanted an expert who has experienced both tests and he gave it to us straight. Your homework for your weekly college bound challenge is to have your student give the online AC t a try. We have a link in the show notes to the international online practice. And if you’re a student logged into their AC t.org account, there is additional free online practice in a slightly different format. As Adam mentioned, we aren’t entirely sure what domestic online testers will get on test day. And don’t forget to try the paper test too before making a decision. If today’s episode was helpful to you, please share it with a friend who needs us to sharing following the podcast rating and reviewing helps us resource more students to launch into a successful future. Thank you for listening to the College and Career Clarity podcast where I help your family move from overwhelmed, confused to motivated, clear and competent about your teens future