Act before taking the ACT

Several strategies to learn before taking the ACT

Back to Article
Back to Article

Act before taking the ACT

Students prepare for the ACT by studying what it's all about

Students prepare for the ACT by studying what it's all about

Students prepare for the ACT by studying what it's all about

Students prepare for the ACT by studying what it's all about

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

Junior year is flying by and without knowing it you forget about the April ACT test coming up in a week. You’re limited on time to study practice ACT tests. Many would just “wing it” knowing there is nothing they can do to prepare themselves now. However, there are several strategies in which you can look over for an hour or two that can substantially help you manage your time and succeed. Kaiya Gieseke said, “I went into the ACT blind and I regret not knowing what exactly the ACT was about. I had no idea how much time I had for each section and I did not manage my time well.” Simply not knowing how the ACT works can affect your score greatly.

The ACT is a test which determines whether a student is college-ready in four areas of study–English, Math, Reading, and Science. There is also a writing section that is optional and might be beneficial for the colleges you may consider. The ACT is generally about a three-hour test where a student has 45 minutes for English (75 questions), 60 minutes for Math (60 questions), 35 minutes for Reading (40 questions), and 35 minutes for Science questions (40 questions). The writing portion gives you approximately 40 minutes to accomplish with one essay question. After researching how to boost an ACT score, I came up with several strategies to easily study a week before taking it.

English Test Taking Strategies

  • Keep It Simple, Silly–this means that the shortest answer is USUALLY correct—start by considering the shortest answer, then the next shortest, etc.
  • Omit or delete is USUALLY correct
  • Avoid pronouns
  • “ING” words are usually wrong because they will be misplaced modifiers
  • Typically, ACT uses 2 commas to set apart a thought that is NOT essential to the sentence
  • ACT uses colons NOT for a list, but to illustrate or explain what was just said
  • Dashes—usually come in pairs—

Math Test Taking Strategies

  • The first 40 are usually the easiest, but the last 20 have easy ones spread around
  • Eliminate any answer that is impossible and cross it out
  • Draw the picture—label the information
  • When possible try to use trial and error with the answers given—start with the number that is in the middle of range of answers given; if it is too high, take the next lower one; if it is too low, take the next one higher
  • Each letter answer in the math test is used about 12 times
  • Know your formulas: slope formula, slope-intercept form, areas of a rectangle, parallelogram, triangle, trapezoid, and circle, circumference of a circle, Pythagorean Theorem ,and trigonometric relations.

Reading Test Taking Strategies

  • Do the test in backwards order—4,3,2,1—the science section is OFTEN the easiest section on the reading test
  • Scan the selection’s questions before reading
  • Look for line #’s—mark those on the test
  • Look for people’s names and places, it is easy to look for those answers in the section
  • Do the questions you can and get them right—don’t worry about the rest

Science Test Taking Strategies

  • Scan the short passage, scan graphs, charts, and figures
  • Find the common threads—figure 1; table 2
  • Scan the test for topics you like—biology, environmental science; chemistry; electricity; physics etc.
  • Look for the sets with 5 questions—ACT says they have the easiest questions

These strategies could possibly boost your composite up three scores. If you are incapable of finishing each section or a section, choosing a guess letter could also boost your scores. Keaton Knaak said, “I did not use a guess letter, but I did guess on a lot of the questions. If I would’ve known about using a guess letter, I probably would’ve done better or at least my guessing would have been more accurate.” Skip the questions you do not understand or are too long to read. When there is 1 minute left, look to see what letter—A/F, B/G, C/H, D/C—was used the least and use that letter on all the skipped questions.