How to Ace Your ACT

By Camille Yost

You have known about your ACT exam for the past couple of months, and now, it is only a few days away. You’re scrambling to find last minute ways to study because you feel unprepared. Here’s the first tip: Do not procrastinate. That being said, whether or not we like to admit it, we all procrastinate. If you are one of these students, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are doomed to fail. Take comfort in the fact that you can take the test multiple times and colleges will take your highest score. Think of the first exam as a test run to give you a more in depth idea on what to study. However, if you want to be even more prepared, there are many things you can do in the week before your exam.

Luckily for you, Tustin High offers an ACT Boot Camp that is set in advance of the ACT exam dates. They offer many tips and tricks on how to attack the test, including practice tests and notes. One thing that you should definitely have on your to-do list, is the practice test. You should time yourself and make sure you can finish on time. For the most part, the test is about time management. The English section has 75 questions with a short 45 minutes to complete, the math section is 60 questions and a minute per problem, the reading section is 40 questions with 35 minutes, and the science portion of the test is the same as the reading. The writing test is optional, however, it is highly recommended and you are given only 30 minutes to organize and write the essay. In short, you are given more questions than you are time.

This may seem incredibly stressful, and to be brutally honest, it is. Because of the practice tests, you have already read the directions, which means you no longer have to take five minutes to read them during the actual exam. The directions are lengthy and take up approximately fifteen minutes in total and this could be a disadvantage if you are a slow test taker. In addition to knowing the directions, you should know what your gaps of knowledge are for the test. You should put time into studying for what you don’t know instead of reviewing what you do already understand. Now, going back to time management, when taking the test, if there are still questions you are unsure of, skip it and move on to the ones you feel confident on. Once you’ve completed those questions, go back to the ones you didn’t understand. If you are still unsure, take your best guess. Unlike before, there is no penalty for guessing, which leaves you a twenty-five percent chance of getting the correct answer. You should never leave a question blank. As for the writing portion, write what you know and do your best to analyze the sources you are given. Colleges will take into consideration to the amount of time you are given, so do not worry about length. Instead, worry about the detail in what you do write and just do your best not to stress out because it will only slow you down.

In essence, the ACT exam is all about time management. I would highly recommend preparing for the test in advance and not waiting until the last minute. Although the test is doable, at the last minute, you will feel unprepared and stressed while taking the test. However, if you aren’t too concerned about your first score, use it as a test run for your next upcoming ACT test dates.

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