If you’re taking the ACT next weekend and haven’t been able to prepare as thoroughly as you’d like—hey, we understand, midterms, midyears, new semester starting, sports commitments, yada yada yada—do not despair. Because there’s no vocabulary on the exam, you don’t need to spend nearly as much time studying as you might think. The ACT is, in fact, a much more “beatable” test than the SAT, especially when time is short, and doubly especially compared to the redesigned SAT rolling out next month.
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. More important than the actual material covered on the ACT is becoming skilled at time-management in each section. Since there is NO GUESSING PENALTY, a crucial strategy to get high scores is to see and answer all the questions in each of the four tests (English, Math, Reading, and Science). In each test, there are questions that always take more time than others, but since they don’t count more, they’re just not worth the extra time they require. For example, on the English test, some questions require 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, 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 rather than those that ask about the passage as a whole or require you to make inferences. On the Science test, go right to the questions and only read the passages 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 in tables and graphs.
So even with just a few days to go, can you really raise your score? 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, make sure to actually STUDY all the documents 😉
- Take one complete ACT per day now through exam 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, also available in all major book stores.
- 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: 12 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 🙂