Here are the top 5 ways to improve your study sessions for the ACT -Park Tutoring
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Five Tips to Upgrade Your ACT Study Sessions!

Five Tips to Upgrade Your ACT Study Sessions!

Ever wonder how to start studying? Sure, you can crack open a book and get started. It is a great idea, but there are some helpful rules to make sure you are making the most out of your study session. Consider including these act study tips to improve your study sessions!

Make sure your environment is peaceful

No one likes screaming children in a theater. It’s distracting. Likewise, beeping, calling, or loud laughter can be disruptive. Just like how these sounds interrupt a moviegoing experience, they can also break our concentration. So, try to turn off your phone or put it in silent mode during study sessions. Anything that distracts you will interfere with study time, and frankly, make it last much longer than needed.

If you truly need your phone, then try to have it in segmented breaks. One famous method is the Pomodoro method, in which one studies for 25 minutes, then receives a five minute break. The longer sessions are called “pomodoros”. After about four “pomodoros” (25 minute sections), one receives an extended break of around 15-20 minutes. While this method won’t work for diagnostic tests, it can still be utilized for practice sections or review. The Pomodoro Method is said to have helped increase focus and concentration. Therefore, it is a great option for those who distract easily.

Studying doesn’t have to be lonely. Oftentimes, working alone can feel stressful. There’s less motivation to finish the questions or read. In other words, some students might struggle in an utterly silent environment. If this is the case, then consider somewhere with light sound. For example, host a group study session at a library or coffee shop  Work in a quiet environment with light noise. In addition, honor societies at schools will usually host free tutoring sessions as well.

Sometimes, our environment might be beyond our control. It’s okay. Instead of fretting, try to find other avenues. For example, consider investing in a pair of noise-canceling headphones. While maybe a completely dead silent room might be too far outside the realm of possibility, there might be ways to gain some sense of peace. 

Side note: Minimize your exposure to blue light, especially when not needed. Though not everyone suffers from blue light headaches, it can be easy to get, especially if you are someone who gets migraines easily. This can be done by having short breaks in which you focus on an object for twenty seconds, changing the computer screen to a more yellow tone, or lowering the opacity on your screen as well. 

Leave your stress at the door

This might seem silly. The ACT is a hard test– why should you ignore the pressure? Well, be that as it may, pressure will do no good to help you retain information. In fact, it might actually stunt your ability to properly study. So before you study, put aside all of the anxiety about homework, chores, or gossip. Leave it at the door. To do so, try taking three deep breaths, going on a walk, or quickly journaling your intention. Whatever you decide, it should be something to help shake off the nerves (both literally and mentally). Once you set up your desk with all your materials and your timer is ready to go, the ACT test is your world. Remember, you are setting out to learn about the test and do your best. So go for it!

Don’t neglect your strong suits

We all need to brush up sometimes. While you might not need to devote as much time to one subject as another, make sure you are doing your best to have a rounded study session. Now, this doesn’t mean study every subject in a single session. Rather, make sure you devote time to each subject, consistently. It never hurts to review your best subject, especially for a timed test. You never know what you could’ve forgotten or what might come up on the test. So, try your best to review everything. 

Have a plan

Advice tried and true, it is best to have an idea of what you are walking into. Tackling foreign subjects is hard enough; follow a structured schedule to stay on track.

How long should study sessions be? Though long hours might seem the best way to go, taking short breaks is a great way to help reset the mind. Generally, after an hour, our minds may begin to drift or wander. Especially if you are staring at a screen, taking a five minute break away from the screen can help give our eyes a break from all that blue light. However, besides having short breaks, the amount of overall study time might vary from person to person. Generally, you may not be able to cover all the material you need to within one hour, so two to three hours is usually recommended (with breaks). To decide how long your study sessions should be, you should consider certain factors such as:

  1. How much time can you spend weekly? Consistent repetition will help you retain information much more than a giant, one-day study sesh. It would be much more beneficial to have two-hour study sessions twice a week, versus a four hour study session on one day.
  2. What times are the most beneficial for you? This is not just about when your windows are, but when it is the most ideal time to study. This can include an array of factors such as distractions, when you are the most awake, what time most of your events are, etc. 
  3. How many things are you tackling? If you missed an important section of math, or failed to learn a grammatical concept a while back, you might want to account for that. Generally, it is a good idea to start studying anywhere from three to six months in your junior year before you plan to take the ACT. This way, you can get accustomed to the test format.
  4. SIDENOTE: If you are someone who struggles with testing anxiety, then we highly recommend practicing earlier. The more confident and relaxed you can be during the test, the better the outcome. Having an incredible grasp of the material is amazing– but it is  not indicative of necessarily always performing perfectly on the test.

Don’t take on too much

It’s a month before the ACT. Too soon. Much too soon. How do you cope? Is it by buying a test prep book, vowing to complete the entire thing as fast as possible, and drowning your free time with Crash Course? 

Slow down! No matter how little time you have, the ACT test isn’t worth copious amounts of anxiety. It can be conquered without that much stress. So, take a second. Figure out a realistic goal, and a realistic study routine. If you have to take care of your little sisters and walk the dog every day, then your study session might have to have shorter hours. 

There is always a balance. If you try to do too much, it might result in more stress and exhaustion. This is why breaks and knowing when to stop are important skills. However, pushing yourself is equally important. Movement sometimes requires discomfort. Of course, it is more difficult for someone outside of your situation to navigate how far you should go, but explore. Find the balance that works best for you, and make sure it is realistic. 

To quickly clarify, realistic does not mean settling. If reaching for the stars is your motivator, then absolutely go for it. Believing in yourself is one of the most important things you can do, inside and outside of this test. However, realistic DOES mean having a schedule or routine that is easy and very possible to achieve. You can’t plan for a perfect score if you have no time dedicated towards practice. Always hope for the best, but plan to have ample time in case anything comes up. 

And just before you go, here is one of the most important tips:

Take care of yourself! Studying is not helpful with no food, no sleep, and no drive. The ACT doesn’t have to be the world’s most exciting test, but motivation is crucial to success. 



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