5-Point Checklist to Prep for the ACT in a Week…or Less!


ACT-Checklist-WEB-4If you’re taking the ACTs this weekend and haven’t been able to prepare as thoroughly as you’d like—understandable given the SATs and/or January midterms many of you faced—do not despair. Because there’s no vocabulary on the exam, you don’t need to spend nearly as much time studying as you do for the SAT. The ACT is, in fact,   a much more “beatable” test than the SAT, especially when time is short.

Whereas the SAT requires a huge chunk of STUDY time to master all the abstruse vocabulary (see what I did there?), ACT prep places a premium on taking and going over practice tests. Nevertheless, there ARE two bodies of material you need to know: math (key topics in Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2, and a wee bit of Trig) and 10 key grammar rules. But even important than the actual material covered on the ACT is becoming skilled at time-management in each section. Since there is NO GUESSING PENALY, the main strategy to get high scores is to answer all the questions, which obviously requires getting to all the questions. In every section, there are always items that require more time than others, and they’re just not worth the extra time they require. For example, on the English test, some questions necessitate a lot more reading than the quick-and-easy ones; take a hunch guess on those, circle them, and come back if time permits. Note I didn’t say those items are necessarily HARDER, they’re just more time-consuming, and on the ACT, time is your most valuable commodity. Same with the Math test: questions that will take longer than ONE minute should be “hunch-guessed” on your first pass so that you can do as many problems that take a minute or less as you can. On the Reading test, save the most boring of the four passages for last (if you’re not a current CPE student, you may not have realized that there are always four passages, always on the same topics, and always in the same order: Prose Fiction, Social Sciences, Humanities, and Natural Science), and if you have less than nine minutes by the time you get to it, start by answering the questions that point you to specific lines or ask about how specific words are used in context rather than those that ask about the passage as a whole. On the Science test, go right to the questions and only read the passage on a “need-to-read” basis and, again, hunch-guess the ones that will take longer than those that simply ask you to find the answers from the data presented on tables and graphs.

So with three and half days to go, can you really raise your score substantially? Hell yeah! Here’s how:

Purchase our ACT Prep Pack (relax, it’s only $5.99), which includes all the strategies for each  section, including Writing, and all the grammar and math material you need to know. Oh, and after you purchase it, be sure to actually  STUDY all the documents 😉 Note you can get the ACT and SAT prep pack together—the Combo Pack—and save: $9.99 for both!

Take as many ACTs as you can before game day—practicing time-management and getting used to the way the ACT writers phrases questions will help raise your scores significantly. The best practice book is the one published by the makers of the test, The Real ACT Prep GuIde, available in all major book stores. Even a single test will help a LOT. I recommend five full tests if time permits (you COULD do one a day for five days if you’re committed and really want high scores—we call this cramming and it does work!)

Listen to our three 30-min “Prep Talks” with College Prep Express, either on our site or on iTunes, to hear advice from your high-scoring peers and tips from Dr. Yo: Beating the ACT, All About the ACT, and Prepping and Cramming for the ACT

Read our other blog posts about the ACT: Why the ACT is just as important as the SAT12 Tips for SAT/ACT Game Day, 5 Tips To High Scores on SAT and ACT Essays, ACT Math and SAT Subject Test Math 1 (there are more; to find them, type ACT in the search box)

If you need help going over your mistakes on your practice tests, sign up for one or two hours of private tutoring, live or online, and we’ll teach you everything you need to know.

It’s a tall order, no kidding. But if you want to beat this test, you really CAN do it—and fast!— if you’re willing to invest the time.  GOOD LUCK! And remember, CollegePrepExpress is here to help 🙂


About CollegePrepExpress

The primary purpose of CollegePrepExpress, LLC is to help students get into their top secondary schools, colleges, and graduate schools and to reduce stress surrounding the entire admissions process.

Leave a Reply