Tips for Taking the ACT



Hand completing a multiple choice exam.

The ACT is a standardized test that all high school students must take their junior year if they are planning to go to college. It is divided into four multiple choice subject tests that include reading, writing, math and science. The types of questions will range for something students would have learned in basic sciences their second year of middle school to harder pre calculus based questions that they would have learned their junior year. Either way it will test students’ ability to reason and comprehend certain lessons and subjects they may have learned in the past, hence why it is recommended that students wait until their junior year in order to take it and continue to retake it afterwards if they happen not to get the score they liked the first time around. Just because this test may seem particularly difficult to certain students, it doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to score well on it. Of course students will have to work hard in order to achieve the score they want, but here are a few tips that will help them improve their test scores.

The ACT is a test that is designed to trick the person taking it, especially when it comes to the reading section. A student may look at a question and think that they have never been asked something like this before, but in reality he/she has. It’s just a matter of wording. The ACT test makers will switch up word orders or write a question longer than it has to be to make it seem like the question is more complicated than it actually is. This is why it is a good idea to simplify the question in order to help understand what it’s really trying to say. A way to do this is by taking out any extra phrases or background information that is not needed. If there is a complicated word, take it out and replace it with a simpler word that means the same thing. Of course it is not recommended to do this with every question as it will eat up a lot of valuable time, but it may come in handy every now and then when it comes to those pesky, strangely worded questions.

Another interesting aspect about the ACT is that it will try to make you waver between two different answers. The thing is, when it comes to the ACT, there can only be one correct answer. So read carefully into the wording of the answers and cross out the ones that are incorrect because it does this to try to trick the test-taker. This is why it’s a good idea to take as many practice ACT reading tests as possible in order to get familiarized with the formatting of the questions and answers and start to learn some of the patterns when it comes to the reading section of the ACT. But this tip applies to all the other sections of the ACT as well. Because as many have said before, practice makes perfect, or at least it makes better.

But other than just practicing for all the different sections, it is also a good idea to learn the lessons for each section. This may require a student to go back in time a little and relearn some older math lessons. Or it may require the student to go back and review some essential grammar lessons. But it will all be worth it the end when the student sees the high score he/she has earned on the exam. So it’s a good idea to find a trustworthy source that can supply a student with all the need-to-knows when it comes to which formulas and comma rules are required to help a student be successful on the ACT. For example, the Princeton Review book or site itself has been one of the most helpful sources for students taking the ACT in previous years.

Of course there is more than just learning when it comes to doing well on the exam. A student will also need to know how to take care of him/herself in the meantime. So the day before the exam, it is important that a student eats and sleeps well. It may be difficult with all the anxiousness of knowing there is an important exam awaiting the next day, yet getting little to no sleep will definitely not help to make the student more successful if he/she is groggy and dizzy as he/she tries to answer questions using the pythagorean theorem and is unable to recall what it actually is due to being too tired. So a student must try to relax the night before, and review any points he/she may have had trouble with, but do not cram and try to learn new information. All the learning should have been done in moderation at least a week or two before the date of the test. Otherwise if a student tries to cram it all a night or two before, it will be hard to remember everything the day of the test. Some high schools are accustomed to cramming for tests the night before or even the morning of, but when it comes to the ACT, that will not be possible as there is too much information, and the student will end up forgetting most of it. But sometimes students are not allowed to bring food, and the students will be provided with some instead. Either way, it is best to for a student make sure that there is a source of food available to allow the student to snack and drink when necessary.

Furthermore, eating a proper meal will help the student attain the energy he/she will need in order to take a test that will require the student’s focus for a few hours. The test does start quite early, but a student must still try to eat a banana or maybe a granola bar with some apple juice the morning of just to have something in his/her body to help the student be energized, ready, and alert for the upcoming exam. It’s also a good idea to bring food to eat during the test as well, as there will be small breaks in between.

The most basic and obvious tip of all is that a student must try his/her best to go to an ACT prep class of some sort. Lots of schools offer juniors a full day workshop for free. Of course there are additional prep classes that a student can take, but many of those cost money. There are also sites, books, pamphlets, and other sources that can help a students prepare themselves for the ACT. In the end, it will all be up to the students and how hard they are willing to try that will truly affect the results of the test. Remember, if students eat well, sleep well, and study well, then they will be able to do well on the ACT.