What are the three letters that high school students dread more than anything? You guessed it. A-C-T. Commonly used for college admittance and scholarships, the ACT can seem like a formidable foe for many teenagers. But thankfully, there are lots of strategies to make the test a little easier. Here are some of the best tips for preparing for the ACT that I have found.
1. Practice with free questions from ACT Academy
- ACT Academy offers free personalized practice questions made by the actual makers of the test. Check it out at https://www.opened.com/profile/onboarding/create-profile?role=student.
2. See if there are any free tutoring sessions in the area
- Many schools and public libraries offer free ACT tutoring sessions or camps. Though they may not be available in every area, it’s worth checking into by visiting your library’s website or asking a school counselor.
3. Check out PrepScholar
- One of the most beneficial resources for the ACT is the blog PrepScholar. Whether you are shooting for a 20 or a 36, PrepScholar offers advice for every level. Visit the blog at https://blog.prepscholar.com/15-act-tips-and-tricks-to-improve-your-act-score to see what you can find.
4. Take notes on things you’re not sure on
- Keep a notebook specifically for the ACT. Whenever you miss a question in practice or learn something new, keep track of it in the notebook so you can learn from your mistakes and easily look over key points.
5. Keep everything ACT related in one place
- It’s easy to get overwhelmed with materials and papers, so keep everything ACT-related in one folder or binder. That way, when it’s time to study all of your resources are together.
6. Take it multiple times to practice, but don’t overkill
- Personally, I’ve taken the ACT 7 times. Yes, 7. In this case, I’m an example of what you shouldn’t do. Though it’s important to take the test more than once so you can get used to it, don’t burn yourself out.
But what about when it comes to test day itself? I decided to reach out to some peers who had scored higher than a 30 for their biggest ACT tips. One friend suggested to “read the questions before the passages.” Especially if you struggle with time, this can be a great tactic to quickly anticipate what the correct answer will be.
“Put yourself in the mindset of the testmaker,” was the advice another high scorer gave me. Though this concept can be difficult to pinpoint, try practicing looking at questions and thinking, “What answer did the testmaker intend?”
Finally, one of the most valuable pieces of advice I’ve received is “skip the hard questions and come back to them.” Even if a question gets you stuck for only 30 seconds, move on to easier questions and try it again if you have extra time.
Though each ACT is different, each offers the opportunity to show colleges your skill and possibly earn scholarship money. So while you shouldn’t stress yourself out, work hard and try your best! Good luck!