ACT Preparation Tips and Tricks: What You Need to Know
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Tips and Tricks to Ace the ACT

Tips and Tricks to Ace the ACT

Oh no. It is the day of the big test. Maybe you found yourself in a bind. Don’t worry- here are some quick act tricks to get through it. These test-taking strategies for this year’s ACT can be used the day of and the days before. Here are our top act tips to help you perform your very best for that big day!

Tips for the big day 

Stay calm, no matter what

In times of extreme distress, we can fall into our survival tactics: freeze, for example. It is no secret that when we are stressed, it is harder to think. Why? This is because the brain goes into survival mode, and limits its resources to those necessary to keep us alive. Even though we are not necessarily stressed about living, the brain doesn’t interpret it that way. So stay calm and take deep breaths. Those deep breaths can help reset the brain and let it know that hey, you’re not in any physical danger. 

Take a look at the question breakdown

  English Reading Math Science
Time Allotted 45 35 60 35
Total Questions 75 40 60 40

Notice how each section is given less time than questions to work. You will have to move fast. If you find yourself still unsure after a minute, mark it, and move on. Feel free to go back to the answer afterwards. However, if you are prone to running out of time, fill it in with the designated random choice. This way, if you have extra time, you can return back, but if not– you are covered. 

Read the question carefully

Answers that are absolute deserve scrutiny. The authors usually invite interpretation for a reason. If you see “all”, “always”, “never”, “every single”, etc., make sure to double check if it's true. 

Pay attention to words that are absolute, like NOT or ALL. It is easy to miss, and it absolutely changes the entire meaning of the question. For example, if a question says, 

  1. Which word is NOT used the same way “hasty” is often used?
  • Rash
  • Promptly
  • Impulsive
  • Aggressively

Reading this right now, you might be thinking, “well no, that is so obvious.” But remember, right now you aren’t under timed restrictions in a classroom setting.  Though this might sound obvious, it happens all of the time that students will misread a question because of the pressure. So as counterintuitive as it might sound– take your time. Read slowly and carefully. There are no brownie points for the person who speedreads through, but struggles to understand. So try to find a balance. 

Study Tips 

Say you had a bit more time to study. That’s wonderful! As important as test act tips are, how you study can have a massive impact on the score you receive. Practicing these strategies before the big day will help you to get acquainted with the testing format and the approach you decide. Of course, on the day of the test you don’t want to experiment with different approaches. Doing all of this beforehand will help you realize what you like and what works best for you.

Find the common ground or difference between dual passages.

Dual perspective passages will always be in conversation with one another. Typically, they will be disagreeing or having different perspectives in some fashion. Try to find that point– it may not always be directly stated. For instance, it may have to do with a time period.

Read the Passage Out Loud.

Mumble the words quietly as you read. Don’t say them very loudly, just to yourself (avoid distracting others, as it's rude). Does this sound weird? Perhaps. But while the English language is spoken differently than how it is written due to slang, it will still be helpful. If the sentence you read sounds a bit awkward or clunky, chances are that’s because it is. Reading out loud will help to identify what sounds off, especially because English is spoken so frequently in most places. It is also important to keep in mind what type of answer that the grammar section is looking for. The grammar section is looking for an efficient answer. More specifically, an answer that gets to the point, is specific to the content, and grammatically correct. Take for instance, this following example:

  1. Jim was determined to change his ways. He started by ____________________.
  • Taking up volunteering to fix up dilapidated, ruined buildings.
  • Volunteering.
  • Volunteering to fix up run-down buildings.

Notice how a is overly specific. Some of those words can be taken out, and the context still carries. So A would not be the most fruitful answer. B, however, is completely too vague. The information is very concise but not precise by any means. However, C, exists as the happy intermediary between them all. Assuming C is grammatically correct, then C would be a wonderful answer. This example serves to show how to look for an efficient answer that still is clear in its explanation of things. 

Time your practice exams 

Practicing under pressure is a phenomenal way to mimic how you will perform. One of the biggest stressors about the ACT is not the questions itself, but rather the time constraints. So, after every learning section, it is a good idea to take a practice exam and take it straight through. Pretend as if it were a real test. Again, familiarizing yourself with content is the easiest way to acclimate to the test. 

Did you like our test-taking strategies? If you liked these ACT tips, check out some of our other ones! We have a plethora of content to explore, especially for students invested in honing their abilities. 




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