March 18, 2016

If you're in high school, you know what the ACT is.  It's the standardized test of standardized tests, and for many students, it's a success determiner.  We're all told the importance of our ACT scores in a simple yet terrifying anecdote:  if you don't make the score, you don't get in the school;  if you don't get in the school, you don't get the job and then life goes downhill from there.  Terrifying is an understatement.

The next available test date is April 9, which is a little less than a month away.  I am by no means an ACT expert, but if there's one thing I know how to do, it's how to study for a test.  If you really want to boost your score on that fine April Saturday, there are a few things you can start thinking about now in order to increase your performance.

Prep For A Day

1. Start Preparing Now
I know it seems a bit far-fetched to start studying for something when it's a month away, but that's because your idea of studying may be a little different than mine.  Should you start looking at ACT materials for at least two hours each day until the day of?  No, of course not.  Should you take a few minutes each day to quiz yourself on common questions and tricks?  Yes!  I love using ACT's question of the day generator for quick practice.

2. Don't Overstudy
This may seem a bit hypocritical and/ or ludicrous of me to say.  I know that when I was told this tip for the first time, I was very frustrated;  after all, the ACT is a very important test and everyone around me seemed to expound upon that fact, so overstudying was the least of my worries.  After taking the test for the first time, however, I realized that I performed better on the areas that I had not studied constantly rather than the ones that I had pounded into my brain.

3. Invest in Good Study Materials
Whether you buy a book or you go to a tutor, try to invest in some sort of tool that will enable you to get extra practice.  If you aren't a fan of independent study, I'd suggest going to a reputable tutor or even watching video courses.  If you can handle the independent study, ACT practice books like this one and this one are extremely helpful. Want the best of both worlds?  Enroll in an ACT Prep class, especially if you want to be able to practice with the time constraints and breaks!

4. Have a Realistic Goal
Yes, it's a very important test, but here's a secret:  you can take it twelve times.  There's no need for you to make a 36 right away.  Especially if you're taking the test for the first time, set some time aside to plan out a range of scores that you'd ideally like to be in. You might even surprise yourself by making a higher score than you thought you could. For example, yours truly wanted to make a high score of 28 the first time she took the ACT and ended up with a 33.  I was surprised, to say the least.

I hope these tips will prove useful to all ACT test-takers.  To all of those taking the test this year (including yours truly):  good luck!

How do you study for the ACT?



  1. Love these tips! We take both the SAT and the ACT here in NC but I've only taken the SAT so far! I'm taking the ACT in June and will be using your tips!


    1. Glad I could help! I hope to be applying these tips to the SAT as well.


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