Ace the ACT
By Hayley Watson, Co-Editor
February 1, 2017
Filed under Features
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The ACT is a test everyone has to take. College admission committees decide which students are admitted into their schools with great consideration of this one test. ACT also plays a large role in deciding what kind of scholarships are available to which students. No pressure. While some are natural test takers, others struggle in a timed environment. So if you are a freshman planning on taking the test for the first time or a junior preparing for the school-wide test in March, here are six tips to help you ace your ACT.
1. Know the Test
The more familiar you are with the ACT, the less stressed you will be come test day. Knowing how many questions are in each section and how much time is allotted for each section can allow you to find a pace that is best for you. The sections of the ACT, their number of questions and their allotted times are as follows:
- English – 75 questions in 45 minutes
- Math – 60 questions in 60 minutes
- Reading – 40 questions in 35 minutes
- Science – 40 questions in 35 minutes
Since the ACT usually follows a format for the types of questions in each section, each section can broken down even more. This can allow for easier studying. Consult your teachers in these subjects for more information on each section.
2. Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Everyone has different subjects they excel in and different subjects that need improvement. Focus on what section you need to improve and build upon what you know. Once you find what section needs work, pinpoint the problem. Are you struggling with geometry or trigonometry in math? Are comma rules or verb tenses holding you back in English? Or maybe the time restriction in Reading? Having problems reading a graph in science? Once you know the root of the problem, you can find a starting place to improve your score.
3. Don’t Read Everything
With the restricting time frames, reading every word could hurt rather than help. Skim information that isn’t needed and have a basic understanding of what is going on in each passage. If you wish to read all the passages in the Reading section, it is helpful to read the answers first so you don’t have to waste time finding the answers later.
4. Answer What You Know First
To save on time, answer the “easy” questions first. “Easy” questions are any questions that you can answer off the top of your head, or answer after a quick glance in the passage. With them out of the way, you will have more time to think about the more difficult questions, and, hopefully, will bubble the right answer.
5. Keep An Eye on The Time
Time is your biggest enemy in the ACT. Make sure you are at a comfortable pace that will allow you finish your test before time is called. Good rule of thumb is to check the clock after every 10 to 15 questions and adjust your pace from there. (Be sure to bring a watch in case there isn’t one in the test site.) The proctor will call one warning to let you know when there are five minutes left in each section. Take the time to bubble in remaining answers to the unanswered questions, then continue with the test and change the answers if needed. There is a 25 percent chance you will choose the right answer if you guess. There is a 100 percent chance you will get it wrong if it is blank.
6. Practice, Practice, Practice
Practice makes perfect. Find time to do practice ACT questions regularly. It can be a few questions a day or an hour a week. As long as you work to improve and sharpen your skills, you will be more prepared for the real test. ACT practice books can be found in our school library and public library. The official ACT website also offers practice ACT tests. Study groups can prove beneficial, as long as everyone stays on task.
The ACT can be stressful to some. While these tips are important to keep in mind, there is something even more important: relax. You won’t know the answer to every question. Try your best, and try not to worry. Your score may surprise you.