For those willing to go to college or to one of the most reputable universities in the country, knowing more about the ACT and the test-taking strategies is an important part of earning yourself a good-quality higher education.
The ACT is a standardized test used by almost all of the colleges in the United States to assess a student’s success in college. It was first introduced back in 1959 and all colleges and universities in the United States now accept the ACT for students applying for admission. And, since its inception, the ACT has been growing. It was in 2011 when it became the most preferred standardized test among students as 1,666,017 took the ACT that year.
Because of how many students are taking the ACT every year, some of the best colleges and universities in the country require applicants to have scores of over 27 or within the 10% of those who took the test. As such, you need to know how to do well on the ACT so that you can be one of its top-scoring students. One way of doing so is to take note of our ACT tips and test taking strategies. Let’s get started (by the way, if you’d prefer to read our list of SAT tips, you check them out here).
Also, if you’re still looking for an ACT review book, check our guide to the best ACT review books here.
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General How to Study for the ACT Tips
This section includes all of the tips you can use for all of the tests in the ACT while preparing and studying for it. Here are some ACT study tips you ought to be interested in:
ACT Test Preparation Tips
- Set a realistic target score. First of all, before studying for the ACT, what you should do is to set realistic goals that you can accomplish according to your skills. That means that your target score should be well within the reach of your capabilities. And if you already have a college of choice, your target score should be somewhere above the minimum required score for admission.
- Prepare early. Even before you have registered to take the ACT on a certain test date, you should have already started your preparations such as purchasing prep materials and other guides and tools that can help you study. It never hurts to start preparing and studying for the ACT early because it minimizes cramming.
- Take care of your health early on. Studying and preparing for the ACT can take a toll on your physical and mental health. You might even end up getting sick close to or during the ACT test date. But you can minimize that risk by taking care of your health early on. You can do so by eating right and consistently hydrating yourself. Eat nutritious meals and do away empty junk foods.
- Do not deprive yourself of sleep. In connection with the previous tip, a good way of taking care of your health is to get as much sleep as you can. Try not to do a lot of all-nighters and always make sure you get the right amount of sleep. A few extra hours of sleep a night can have long term benefits for you as you prepare for the ACT.
- Go and take breaks once in a while. Whether we are talking about short one-hour breaks or an entire day away from studying, it is wise for you to chill for a while because you do not want to burn yourself out while preparing for the ACT.
- Make a personal study schedule. Studying for the ACT is a personal affair. It all depends on your own pacing, habits, and pacing. Every student has a different study schedule that fits them. Find out what is yours by experimenting a little bit. Once you have found it, stick to it while preparing for the ACT.
- Study during the time your brain works at its best. You may have already noticed that there are certain times of the day when your brain works at peak levels. Use those hours to your advantage and make sure that your plot your study time based on those.
- Being comfortable is important. No matter where you are studying, always make sure that you are comfortable. When both your mind and body are comfortable, it will be easier for you to focus on what you are doing. That makes reading and practicing for the ACT a more productive task to do.
- Put away things that tend to distract you. Studying for the ACT can be quite boring. In that sense, you might notice yourself getting distracted by even the most mundane of things. But, to make sure you stay focused as much as possible, put away things that are normally distracting. That includes your phone, gadgets, computer, or the TV.
- Take ACT prep courses. If you want to pull out all the stops and are not shy about spending to get a good ACT score, then take a good ACT prep course that is designed to not only help you recall the topics to be tested but to also help you get to know more about the ACT as a whole.
- Go get high-quality ACT materials. Though the concepts and topics tested in the ACT are commonly found in your school textbooks and class notes, you should go get yourself a great ACT prep material because these books were written especially for that test. That means that they target the specific topics tested by the ACT while providing you with quizzes, drills, and practice tests that can help improve your score, hone your weaknesses, and further strengthen your best skills. In that regard…
- Fix your weak points before working on improving your strengths. If you are only concerned about the score, then you probably will not gain much by working on your strengths. However, fixing and improving your weaknesses can boost your score since it minimizes the mistakes you commit on topics related to it. Do that first and use your remaining time on your strong points.
- Check online for some great ACT resources. Use the digital world to your advantage and check videos and online content for resources that can actually be useful for you. For example, you can check this great video out if you want more help for the ACT.
- Start practicing easy. This might not be a popular tip but it can be good to start practicing on easier tests rather than diving immediately on the difficult ones. The reason for this is that you do not want to shock your brain. You have to steadily adjust your mind and ease into it by using practice tests and questions that are relatively easier.
- On a regular basis, use materials at the level on par or a bit higher than your skills. After your mind has adjusted, you should regularly use materials and study guides that are at the edge of your own capabilities. That means that they should neither be easy or too difficult for you to handle. If you use practice tests that are easy, you probably will not end up learning anything. But if you practice using materials that are way above your level, you will end up burning out your brain due to frustration.
- When things get easy, practice beyond the limits of your abilities. You can only go beyond your limit by practicing using difficult materials and practice tests. If the materials you use on a regular basis become too easy for you, move up a level or two. This is arguably the best way for you to know how to improve your ACT score. After all, you can only improve if you try to exceed your limit.
- Know what type of questions will be asked in the ACT. While it might be impossible to totally know what questions will be asked in the ACT, you can still anticipate their types. It might be best for you to use online or offline resources to research the commonly asked questions types so that you can have a more focused preparation.
- While answering practice tests, simulate the actual ACT conditions. When you are at home answering some practice tests, one of the best ACT tips to follow is to simulate the conditions of the actual test. That means that you should time yourself and try to put away anything not needed for the ACT. You can also ask your mom or your siblings to watch over you so that you would not try to cheat your way out of the simulation.
- Try tutoring a friend. After studying certain concepts, try to teach them to one of your friends studying for the ACT as well. That will test how well you really understood the concepts you studied. You and your friend can also share tips for taking the ACT.
- Go over the test directions as early as possible. Reading the directions during the ACT can take up valuable time. Instead, try going over the directions right now so that you do not have to read them during the actual test. There would not be much of a problem because ACT directions hardly change from one year to the next.
ACT Test Answering Tips
- Keep track of the time. It cannot be overstated how important watching your time is while taking the ACT because time is too limited of a resource for you. Keep a watch with you at all times and make sure that it does not beep to avoid getting penalized. But…
- Answer at a steady pace. The ACT might be time-tested but it is not a race. Nobody gets extra points by finishing it quicker than others. Also, trying to answer the test quickly might cause you to answer recklessly. It might even strain and tire out your mind. In that case, use a steady pace while answering and do not try to rush to the finish line.
- Make sure you understand the questions. It is important for you to read the questions clearly and carefully so as not to miss a single word that might be important. Remember that missing one or a few words in a question can change the entire meaning. Take note of every word and make sure you understand what the question is asking.
- Do not take up too much time on one question. When you come across a challenging question, you might need to use a bit more time answering it. However, there is such a thing as too much time. Taking your sweet time on one question can lead you to rush in answering some questions.
- Remember that all questions have the same weight. Just because one question is difficult it does not mean that it is worth more points. You do not have to put all your eggs in one basket when answering a challenging question because it will not merit you more points.
- Skipping questions is perfectly fine. You are not expected to know the answer to every question right away. In that sense, if you happen to bump into a question that seems a bit too difficult for you, you can skip it. Do not worry about it at first and move on to the next question. You can answer it again later after refreshing your mind. But…
- Do not skip a lot of questions. If you always skip questions because you find them difficult, that means that you might not have studied well enough to answer them. Try not to skip a lot of questions or else you will end up not answering anything at all. Answer them to the best of your abilities. If you simply cannot answer them, you may…
- Guess the answers. Unlike some standardized tests, there are no penalties for getting the wrong answers in the ACT. If you cannot answer a particularly difficult question, try guessing. A chance of getting the right answer is better than not answering the question at all.
- Use a systematic way of guessing. Do not guess blindly. Instead, use some guessing strategies to maximize your chances of getting the right answer. No matter how difficult a question is, there are still obviously wrong choices. Eliminate as many choices as possible then guess the answer from the remaining choices.
- Use the process of elimination. As mentioned, some choices in a question are obviously wrong. If you happen to notice them right away, eliminate them and choose from the remaining choices. You can do that as many times as you can until the only remaining choice is the correct answer.
- Look for the wrong answers instead of the right one. It is easier to search for something wrong in a choice instead of looking for the single right answer. In that regard, try changing your mindset and look for the wrong answers instead of the right one. By knowing which ones are wrong, it will be easier for you to know the correct answer.
- Know that there will always be one correct answer. Even after using the process of elimination and looking for the wrong choices, it can still be difficult to know the correct answer especially if two more choices seem right. In that case, always keep it in your mind that there will always be one correct answer among all the choices. That makes it easier for you to know that one choice or the other is actually wrong even though it might seem right.
- Take note of the keywords or phrases in a question. This is one of the best ACT test-taking strategies you can use for questions that are particularly long. Instead of re-reading the question, mark keywords or phrases along the way so that you would focus on them when thinking of the correct answer to the question.
- Try answering the question on your own before looking at the choices. After reading the question, think of your own answer first before looking at the choices. If you see that your answer is one of the choices given, it might be the correct one. This also saves time because you do not have to go over all of the choices.
- Focus on the easier topics. This is one of the most common ACT test strategies around. Try to answer the questions out of order and focus on the questions and topics that are easier. Doing so allows you to focus on the more difficult ones later on. However…
- Be careful answering out of order in Math and in English. Answering out of order can still be helpful in Math and in English but the problem is that some questions in these sections are interconnected to one another. So take note of that and be careful when answering out of order in these sections. If you want more info on this, check this out.
- Double check your answers when you still have time. After finishing a section, check your answers again to see if you got them right. If you have more time, you can even revisit questions you were unsure a while ago to see if your answer changes after going through it again.
- Go with your instincts. Never doubt yourself when answering a question. If your instincts tell you that a certain choice is the correct one, go for it. You have no room for second-guessing yourself especially if your time is too limited for you to debate on whether your first choice was correct or not. Doubt yourself only when necessary. In relation to this…
- Never change your answers unless you are sure that the first one was wrong. While it does not hurt to trust your instincts first when answering questions in the ACT, it might also be good for you to change your choices from time to time only if you really are sure that your first answer was wrong. Do not make a habit out of changing answers just because you had a gut feeling.
- Bubble the answers last. When answering a question, do not bubble in your answer right away. Do it after you have answered all of the questions. One reason for such is so that you can save time because you do not have to switch between your test booklet and your answer sheet so often. Also, there is a chance that you might change your answers in certain items. Once you have bubbled in your answers, it is difficult to change them.
- Use your extra time to the fullest. Make sure that whatever time you have is used wisely. You can skim the entire test once again to see if you missed an item or if you wanted to check a question you were unsure of. Resting can also be productive as you need to reset your mind and give it room to get back into shape for the next section of the ACT.
ACT English Section Tips to Score a 36
English is the first section of the ACT. You are given 45 minutes to complete the ACT English section, which tests you on the fundamental usage and mechanics of the English language. Here are some ACT test-taking tips and tricks you might want to use in the English section of the test:
- Brush up on the fundamental grammatical rules of English. Since this section of the ACT tests how well you know how to use the rules and mechanics of English, brushing up on the fundamentals will go a long way. Go and grab your basic books in English and study the rules of grammar by heart. You cannot master the more advanced rules of English unless you know the basics.
- Practice the use of basic grammatical rules. Go and grab some basic writing workbooks to help you master the use of the rules of grammar. Knowing the rules of grammar by reading about them is one thing but you can only master their usage by actually using them in practice.
- Make sure you know how to use all punctuations. Some punctuations are basic enough for 10-year olds to master while some of the more uncommon ones can be quite confusing to use. In that sense, ACT test makers often use these uncommon types of punctuations to make the English section a lot more challenging. Learn how to use even the most uncommon types of punctuations to avoid getting thrown off during the ACT.
- When you are reading books and articles during your free time, pay attention to the grammar. It is impossible for you to not read a few books or some articles during your leisure time. While doing so, pay attention to the grammar used because these are written by experienced writers that know the rules of the English language really well. Learn from how they use the rules.
- Listen to what your ear is telling you. If you do not know the exact grammatical rules used in a certain context or situation, you may want to trust your ear especially if you feel like something is off. Your ear may not always be right when it is telling you that an answer is correct but it is more likely telling you the truth when it feels like an answer is wrong.
- Know the grammar rules often tested in the ACT. While it might be good for you to memorize all of the basic rules of grammar by heart, it can be quite helpful for you to know what topics will be tested in the ACT. Some of the most common topics usually encountered in the English section are the following:
Adjectives and Adverbs
- Read the entire paragraph or ACT passage. Sentence revision questions are often based on sentences found in paragraphs and passages. Before answering the question, read the entire passage first so that you can understand the meat of the sentence. Getting a general feel of what the passage is all about can make sentence revision easier.
- Think of the answers first and then match them with the choices. In sentence completion questions, try to think of the word that best fits the sentence before looking at the choices. If your answer is not in the choices, go for the word that best matches it.
- Fill in the blanks. When answering sentence completion questions, fill in the blanks with the choices instead of simply looking at the choices themselves. Try plugging the choices in the sentence and determine which among them are grammatically correct.
- When facing complicated sentences, try breaking them down. If you have trouble understanding certain sentences because of how complicated their structure is, you may want to simplify them first by breaking them down into smaller sentences. This makes it easier for you to understand what the sentences are telling you.
- Use context if you do not know the meaning of certain words. It is not uncommon for certain complicated words to come up in the English section of the ACT. If you do not know the meaning of those words, try understanding them through context. Use the entire sentence or nearby words to learn their meaning. Or…
- Use root words to understand their meaning. If you still have trouble understanding the meaning of a certain word, try to find their roots. Remove any prefixes or suffixes to simplify the word itself. You can even use the prefix or suffix to your advantage by comparing the difficult word with words with similar prefixes or suffixes.
- Find what is grammatically wrong in the choices. When eliminating wrong choices, find what is grammatically wrong with them. Justify why they are wrong by looking at the grammar used in the choices word per word instead of as a whole.
- Do not be afraid of choosing NO In questions that ask you to change what is wrong in a sentence or paragraph, do not be afraid of not changing anything when you are given the choice. The NO CHANGES choice is sometimes there to throw you off but it might actually be the correct answer if you know the rules well enough.
- The most concise answer is the correct one. After eliminating the wrong answers, you might encounter two or more choices that are actually grammatically correct. However, since there should only be one correct answer, choose the one that is more concise.
- Avoid getting into autopilot mode. ACT English questions based on passages usually do not have actual questions in them but only choices. When there are no questions asked, you are most likely asked which among the choices makes certain parts of the passage grammatically correct. These questions are far too common that you might get into autopilot mode and ignore items that actually have their own questions. In that case, be sure to check whether there actually is a question before rushing in to answer.
- Be extra careful with commas and semicolons. ACT English test makers will sometimes use commas and semicolons to throw you off because of how commas can be used in a lot of different ways. As such, you should know how commas and semicolons are used so as to avoid that trap. This video has some good advice on how these punctuations should be used.
ACT Math Section Tips to Score a 36
Math is the second part of the ACT. You are given 60 minutes to answer this 60-item sense. That said, you need to be able to answer each question in an average of only one minute. The topics covered by this test are the following: pre-algebra, algebra, geometry, and trigonometry. To get a 36 in this test, here are some ACT test tips and strategies you might want to consider when taking the Math test:
- Know the ACT question distribution per topic. If you know how many questions will be asked in a certain topic, it is easier to focus your time practicing in topics with more questions. This is not always exact but this is the rough distribution of questions per topic in the ACT Math question:
Elementary algebra: 10
Intermediate algebra: 9
Plane geometry: 14
Coordinate geometry: 9
- You can never practice too much. The ACT Math section is a test that requires you to practice more than to read. You have to focus more on practicing solving ACT Math questions, and you can never practice too much if you want to master the different processes of solving math problems.
- Make sure your calculator is allowed. Calculator requirements in the ACT Math section are quite strict compared to other standardized tests. Check whether your calculator is allowable. If not, secure one that can be used for the ACT.
- Master your calculator. While most allowable calculators for the ACT have the same functions, the buttons you need to press to get from one function to another tend to be different. Master your calculator first so that you can switch functions efficiently.
- Memorize the formulas. One thing that makes ACT Math so difficult is that you are not given formulas, unlike the other standardized tests. That is why you really have to memorize the formulas and the processes as well. Practice using the formulas to make it easier for you to memorize them.
- When practicing, understand your mistakes. Practice is the most essential part of preparing for the ACT Math test. When doing so, you will commit mistakes from time to time. However, use your mistakes to your advantage by understanding them.
- Improve by looking at where you went wrong.One good way of improving your ACT Math score is by assessing your mistakes. Aside from understanding your mistakes, try backtracking to check where you went wrong. Fix your process and try solving the problem again to check whether or not you got the answer right.
- Focus on practicing on problems you often commit mistakes at. Most of those problems cover topics that you are most likely weak at. There is no better way of improving your weaknesses than to keep on practicing. Focus on those topics so that you can fix your process and avoid making the same mistakes over and over again.
- When you commit a mistake while practicing, solve the problem again. Instead of looking at the answer explanation after committing a mistake, do it all over again and try tweaking your process. You may have gotten something wrong the first time you tried solving it but the second time might be different.
- Try not to use your calculator all the time. While the calculator might give you precise answers, it can take a while for you to switch from one function to another. Instead, try solving some problems mentally or manually especially if the questions are on the easier side. In relation to this…
- Break up larger numbers. When you are manually solving a problem, break up large numbers into smaller digits so that it will be easier for you to solve them on your own without using a calculator. Use the smallest numbers possible to make things less complicated.
- Do not overlook the diagrams. Some questions will give you diagrams that paint a picture of what the problem is all about. Use the diagrams to your advantage and never overlook how important they are in helping you solve for the correct answer.
- If there are no diagrams, come up with your own. It can be helpful for you to try to draw up your own picture or diagram to make the problems easier to understand. This can be pretty helpful in geometry questions and trigonometry questions.
- Try not to overcomplicate things. Some problems do not need to be overcomplicated. Math was meant to be simplified in the sense that you need to look for the quickest solution possible. In that sense, if there is a simpler way of solving the problem, use it so that you can save as much time as possible.
- Cheat using the choices.This is arguably the best ACT Math strategy you can use to get to the right answer. Your end goal here is not to get the answer right instead of trying to prove that you can solve a problem. You can do so by plugging in the answer choices in the problem and check which among them fits. Check this video out if you want to know more details on how to do that.
- Substitute with numbers when solving algebra questions. What makes algebra complicated is that there are no numbers to begin with. However, you can make things simpler by substituting the variables with integers.
- Skip or guess your way out of time-consuming questions. You might face a roadblock of a question that would end up consuming a lot of your valuable time. Remember that you only have 60 minutes to answer 60 questions. That is a minute per question. But instead of using five or minutes for a really difficult problem, skip it first and get back to it if you have extra time. If not, guess your way out of it since you still have a 25% chance of getting the answer right.
- Try estimating. This is a great strategy to use in geometry questions that ask you to solve for the areas of a shape within a larger shape. You can try to work your way out of these by looking at the dimensions of the larger shape and comparing it to the smaller shape inside. Look at the answer choices and choose the one that is closest to your estimation.
ACT Reading Section Tips to Score a 36
In the ACT Reading section, you have 35 minutes to answer a test that has 40 items. The test has four sections of which three are based on long passages while the remaining one is based on two shorter passages. If you want tips that could help you answer these questions better, here are the best ACT Reading strategies you can use to get a 36:
- Master the topics tested. The ACT Reading section consists of different topics which are fiction and literary narrative, social science, natural science, and humanities. Brush up on your basic knowledge of these topics so that you can understand the reading passages easier.
- Time yourself while reading the passages in the practice tests. One way of improving your reading speed while practicing is to time yourself. As much as possible, mind how much time you are consuming when reading practice passages because this part of the test tends to eat up most of your time.
- Pave your own path.This simply means that you are free to choose to answer first the topics you feel are easier for you. By doing so, you can have enough time to answer the topics you believe are more difficult for you.
- Read using the author’s perspective. While reading the passages, try not to read using your own point of view. Instead, use a different lens. Put yourself in the author’s shoes and understand the passage through the author’s own perspective.
- Read the first and last paragraphs first. If you want to save time when reading the passages, you can read the first and last paragraphs first to get a general idea of what the author is trying to tell you. That makes it easier for you to understand the body of the passage as you already know the gist of it.
- Read actively. To avoid reading the passage over and over again, read actively. Try to keep your mind engaged while reading the passage the first time so that you can absorb as much information as possible. That way, you only have to go back to the passage to double check information you may have overlooked.
- Mark important words and phrases while reading. Make the most out of the first time you read the passage by marking words and phrases you think are important. By doing so, you only have to go back to those words and phrases while searching for answers. At the same time…
- Try to separate unnecessary details. You can save a lot of time by using this strategy. By pinpointing details that probably will not contribute to your understanding of the passage, it will be easier for you to skim through it especially when you are already answering the questions.
- Map out the passage as you read through it. You do not necessarily have to draw out a map. Instead, try to map the passage out in your head by plotting the location of some of the more important details of the passage. That way, it will be easier for you to pinpoint their location once you go through the passage again when answering the questions.
- Understand the plot the moment you read the introductory sentence. A good ACT Reading tip is to use the introduction to your advantage. In most passages, you can already get a general idea of what it is all about just by reading the introduction. If you already have a general idea, it will be easier for you to breeze through the entire passage.
- You may want to read the questions first before going through the passage.This is actually a way of cheating your way through the ACT Reading test. Instead of reading the entire passage first, you can read the questions first so that you already know what you should be looking for when you are already reading the passage.
- Understand the passage in your own words. Try retelling the story or the plot of the passage using your own words. In other words, summarize it from the way you understood it. That makes it easier for you to understand the general meaning of the entire passage.
- Your answers should only be based on the passage. Do not try to use external sources to answer the questions. Instead, use only the corresponding passage to answer questions related to it. Also, basing your answers on external factors will only cloud your mind and prevent you from focusing on the passage itself.
- You should be using more time on the questions than on the passages. While the passages do indeed contain the answers to the questions, you won’t be getting any points by spending more time on them. Instead, use the bulk of your time answering and understanding the questions. In line with this…
- Always find something in the passage to support your answers. It is not enough that your answers are based on the passage. What is equally important is that there is something concrete enough in the passage to support your chosen answer.
ACT Science Section Tips to Score a 36
The Science section of the ACT consists of 40 questions you should be able to answer in 35 minutes. Like the ACT Reading section, the ACT Science test is also based on passages. If you want to get a 36 or a score close to it, here are the best ACT Science tips:
- Know the types of passages that will appear in the ACT Science section. The three types of passages you will encounter in this section of the ACT are research summary, data representation, and conflicting viewpoints. The number of passages for each type used to be predictable but now it varies. What is sure, however, is that there is usually only one conflicting viewpoints passage.
- Take different approaches for the three types of passages. Get to know the three types of passages so that you can adopt different strategies for each of them. Research summary is all about understanding the purpose, methods, and results of certain experiments. Data representation lets you identify certain variables or factors in the data given. Finally, conflicting viewpoints passages are similar to paired passages.
- Brush up on the common terms used in scientific experiments. Terms and words such as “independent variable” or “constants” might not be in the higher levels of vocabulary but they do indeed carry different meanings when used in scientific experiments. Brush up on some of these common terms and understand how they are used in science so that you won’t get lost when you encounter them during the test.
- Adjust your mindset to the strange charts and diagrams used in the ACT Science test. Unlike your conventional tests, the Science portion of the ACT tends to present data in charts, diagrams, and graphs in ways that seem weird or strange. Get used to the strangeness of these charts and adjust your mindset when taking the test. A good way of doing so is to answer practice tests that present data in a similarly weird fashion.
- Do not rush to the finish line. The ACT Science section is the final part of the ACT. In that sense, you are already near the finish line but do not rush to it because you might end up tripping. Be as patient as possible when taking the ACT Science test and treat it like any of the other three sections before it.
- Read the questions before the passages. You can treat this section similarly to the ACT Reading test. Try reading the questions first so that you already know what to look for while reading the passages.
- Mark important information while reading the passages. You will be referring back to the passages every once in a while as you answer the questions. To make important information easier to find, mark them the first time you read the passages so that you already know where to find them while answering the questions.
- The diagrams are there for a reason. If the passages show you diagrams or charts, use them. They are there for a reason. Refer to those diagrams to paint a picture of the scenario. This makes it easier for you to understand the passage as you go answer the questions.
- For data representation passages, focus on knowing the topic of the data. While you may not get all the answers to the questions just by knowing what the basic topic of the data in data representation questions, it can make things easier for you because you already know the general idea of the entire passage.
- For research summary passages, know the topic of the experiment and why it was conducted. Similar to data representation passages, getting to know the topic and the purpose of research summary passages can help you avoid reading blindly because you already know what information you should be focusing on while reading the passages.
- Answer the conflicting viewpoints questions last. The conflicting viewpoints questions are considered the most difficult in the ACT Science test. Answer them last so that you will not end up rushing through the entire passages after eating a lot of time in the conflicting viewpoints part of this test.
ACT Writing Tips
This section of the ACT is an optional essay writing test administered at the end of the main tests. You are given 40 minutes to write an essay about a given prompt that is usually related to social issues. You will then be asked to make an analysis of three perspectives related to the prompt. Here are some tips you can use to get a perfect score in the Writing section of the ACT:
- Practice your handwriting. Before anything else, you should make sure that your handwriting is neat because you will be writing manually. Readers cannot give a score if they cannot even understand what you are writing. Make sure that your handwriting is at least readable and neat enough for readers to not lose patience while reading your essay.
- Make an analysis before you write. After reading the prompt and the perspective, make your own analysis first before you start writing. This prevents you from just writing blindly since you already know what approach you are going to take and what you want to write.
- Start with an outline. Most of the highest scoring essays in the ACT Writing section tend to be really well-organized. In that sense, it is best for you to start with an outline before you actually write your essay so that you will have a general idea of the flow of your writing.
- Do not repeat the ideas presented. What you want to do while writing your essay is to come up with your own analysis of the perspectives instead of just repeating the ideas already presented. The only time that you should be repeating the ideas is when you are developing them or when you are working off them.
- Present an argument that readers can clearly see. Rather than just presenting your analysis of the perspectives, try to present a clear argument wherein you agree with one of those perspectives. In other words, the reader should be able to see where you are standing.
- Make sure you do not stray far from the passage or use perspectives other than what is given. The readers are here to test how you analyze the perspectives and how you use the information given to come up with your own argument. In that sense, you should only use what you are given instead of trying to wow your reader with information and perspectives you may have read from other articles in the past.
- Your writing should be as simple as possible. Keep things simple instead of trying to impress your readers with higher levels of vocabulary and complex sentence structures. Remember that this section tests how well you can analyze information to come up with arguments based on the perspectives. It does not test your vocabulary or knowledge of sentence construction.
- Write a long essay. Readers usually give higher scores to longer essays. However, what you have to make sure is that you should not write blindly just to make your essay look long. Instead, try to present as many arguments as possible and try to support them to the best that you can so that you can make a long essay that has substance.
- Make things interesting. Present your ideas and arguments in an interesting manner that can keep the reader engaged especially if your essay is long. Remember that is equally important to make your reader happy if you want a good score in the essay writing portion of the ACT.
ACT Test Day Tips
- Gather all of the important things the night before the test. Before you go to bed the night before the ACT, gather up everything you need for the test. This includes sharpened #2 pencils, calculator, photo ID, admission ticket, and anything else that required for you to take the ACT.
- Get a good night’s sleep. Instead of cramming the night before the ACT, try to get some rest. Cramming will not help you much but making sure your mind and body are in top shape during the test can make a big difference. After all, knowing how to do good on the ACT is pointless if you do not even know how to give your mind and body some rest the night before the test.
- Plan out how you are going to get to the test site early. Even though you are taking the test in your high school, you should still plan out how you are going to get there earlier than usual so that you won’t encounter any problems on your way to the test site. Take the shortest route possible and get there as early as you can so that you will have enough time to compose yourself.
- Eat a hearty meal. Do not skip breakfast. Get up early and eat a hearty meal before going to the test site so that your mind and body will have enough fuel and energy to perform at peak levels during the ACT.
- No last-minute cramming. From the moment you get up until the final minute before the ACT begins, try not to cram anymore. Instead, use your time to try to pace yourself and to manage your anxiety. As long as you have done your preparation well, cramming serves no purpose.
Tips by ACT Tutors
- Do not treat the ACT like any other normal test or other standardized tests. There is a reason why there are tutors that specialize in teaching students how to ace the ACT. That is because the ACT has its own unique quirks and strategies that set it apart from all other normal tests and standardized tests. In that sense, treat it like it has its own identity by using materials and resources that were specifically made for you to know how to get a good score on the ACT. Also, use official ACT practice tests so that you can cater your style and mindset to the ACT. Only use other practice tests after you have exhausted the official ACT tests.
- Use strategies specifically tailored for the sections of the ACT. Since the different sections of the ACT have their own identities, there are certain tricks and strategies that work best for them. Use those to your advantage and make sure that you do not get certain strategies for one section confused with another strategy for a different section.
- Go out of order when reading the passages in the Reading and Science sections. ACT tutors often agree that one of the best ways for you to save time when taking the ACT is to go out of order in the Reading and Science sections. Instead of following the conventional flow, read passages you feel are easier and answer their corresponding questions in an order that best suits you.
- Read the labels and headings in graphs. When given data in graphs, charts, or diagrams, read the labels. The labels are just as important as the data itself because they help you understand what the data is showing you. Some students often forget to read the labels and go straight to the data only to get confused about what the numbers are telling them.
- Make a time plan ahead of the test. Since you already know the number of questions and time allotment per test, tutors will often tell you to make a time plan before the actual test so that you can follow your own pacing. That means that you should be planning how much time you need to answer certain sets of questions. For example, you may want to answer the first half of a section in just a third of the time and then allot the remaining time to answering the entire test and reviewing questions you are unsure of.
- Use as many ACT secrets as you can. Follow as many ACT secrets, tips, and strategies as you can so that you can hack your way out of the ACT instead of just relying on your brain the entire way. As mentioned, the ACT is an entirely different breed of its own. In that sense, there are secrets, tips, tricks, and strategies that specifically cater to the ACT. Use these to your advantage and you will surely see how big of a difference following these tips can make.
Recommended ACT Review Videos and Resources
If you prefer watching videos or using other resources instead of hacking your way through the test by reading tips, you may want to consider these:
- Use the official ACT Test Prep. The ACT has its own identity. In that sense, the people behind the ACT have also come up with their own test prep to help you study and practice for the ACT. You can find the official ACT products and services in this website. So if you aim to know how to score high on the ACT, start with the official ACT practice tests and prep materials.
- For general ACT tips, check this video There are plenty of things to know for the ACT but this video will give you general idea of what the most important ACT tips and tricks are. It gives you a list of the top 10 ACT tips you can use generally for the entire test and specifically for the different sections of the ACT.
- If you want to learn more about what a good ACT score is, check this This video talks about what a good ACT score is depending on your own personal goals and preferences of colleges and universities. It also shows you a list of what ACT scores you should try to aim for to get to a certain school. So whether your goal is to know how to pass the ACT or how to improve your ACT score, this video will help give you a sense of what score you should target if you want to get into your ideal college or university.
Hope you found these 125 ACT study tips helpful. If you’re still looking for an ACT review book, don’t forget to read our guide to the best ACT review books here.