This story was originally published in the June 30 issue of the Community Voice. For your own subscription, call 270-384-9454.
Adair County native Kyle Mann remembers the difficult times he had in preparing for the ACT standardized test when he was a junior at Adair County High School. How do you prepare for it? Are there practice tests? He had a lot of questions.
Mann thought there had to be a way to help students approach the test with confidence. So, after he graduated and later became a dentist, he developed Upscore Test Prep, a web-based program that helps applicants prepare for standardized tests, the ACT in particular.
“Through all the years of education I went through, there were a lot of standardized testing I had to take,” Mann said. “The ACT, dental admis-
sions, the boards and clinicals. When I was in dental school there was a new product, someone started that included recording videos that helped me a lot. It was an eye-opening moment. It really helped me get into dental school.”
Mann’s Upscore Test Prep, which focuses now on preparing for the ACT but will soon aid applicants to prepare for multiple standardized tests, recently earned third place honors at the Startup Appalachia Pitch Competition at the SOAR Focus Sum- mit on the campus of Hazard Community and Technical College.
“It will probably be two or three months before we open the flood gates on the website,” Mann said. “It can be sold to individuals. However, it was geared for schools and programs (to help students). Each school or program would have their own account, and then they can provide each student with their own account.”
The beauty of the pro- gram, Mann said, is it is a standalone program. It breaks down question types. It features videos, practice questions and written lessons. The students will take a full-length diagnostic test at the beginning of the program and that sets a benchmark score for all students and creates an individualized learning plan.
The pitch program at HCTC had 39 applicants and Mann was selected as one of the seven final- ists to make their pitch to a panel of adventure capitalists.
“The panelists recognized the need that students are being left behind because there may not be something in the schools that helps students get ready for the ACT test,” he said. “If so, students are not reaching their potential and the state’s investment is not being maximized. And, the low ACTs are causing students to lose out on thousands of dollars in scholarships.”
Mann won $1,500 but said getting the oppor- tunity to meet business leaders from around the state was the ultimate reward.
Dakota Hoskins, founder of Safari Solutions, a startup focused on high-tech car wash innovations, won the competition. The company’s barcode scanner module enables car wash operators to add barcode scanning capabilities to any existing kiosk, providing greater efficiency and profitability for car wash owners.
Elizabeth Schroer, founder of Reimagines, a family-owned and operated custom design and print shop located in Somerset, finished second. It specializes in large format printing and UV printing services.
“I am motivated to furthering relationships at the state level, getting the help I need to push me over the edge to get- ting this thing launched,” Mann said. “My next step is piloting the program and partnering with five school districts to get this in students’ hands and gather data on how it improves scores.
“If our program can help one student at one school get a college scholarship, that would pay for the entire pro- gram for a school for the entire year. This program pays for itself if a school is motivated to use it.”
For more information, go online to upscoretestprep.com.
By Scott Wilson