ACT Study Plan 2021: How to Crack the ACT Exam without Coaching

Ideally, you should prep for your ACT test several months before the scheduled exam day. However, we understand that there are times when things get in your way and only leave you with a few months to study. 

In some cases, you may even have just a month to study before the exam. The thought itself is overwhelming and, admittedly, scary. This is why we came up with this ACT study guide to help you practice and gain an advantage, regardless of the length of time you can spare for studying.  

We will show you how to study for the ACT in just a matter of one month. The key is in the organization of your schedule to make the most out of your time. Remember, there is a ton of concepts you need to study in such a short period, so your target is to squeeze in as many essential concepts as possible.

Without further ado, here’s an easy-to-follow 1-month ACT study guide for you.

1 Month ACT Study Guide

First of all, we do not recommend this 1-month time frame for test prep because there’s a huge chunk of information you need to study. If you are able to study at least three months before your exam, please do so.

This is not to say that you can’t acquire your desired score with 1-month preparation. You just need to do it wisely. 

Let’s dig into efficient ACT study tips you should follow.

When you’re preparing for the ACT test within 1 month, it’s ideal that you allocate 12 to 15 hours of test prep per week. This will allow you to cover 48 to 60 hours of test prep before the ACT test day. These hours can then be broken down to two to three hours every day with two days off.

This 30-day study plan doesn’t require a coach to supervise you. That said, it’s hugely important that you pour in tons of effort for your scheduling as it will serve as your official guide. 

Also, be realistic with your schedule by assessing your current commitments. Perhaps, you have extra-curricular activities you can’t skip out of. So you have to consider that factor as well when creating your study schedule.

Take a look at our suggested weekly study schedule.

Note: Let’s use the words “Daily Wins” for those test sections and prep materials you need to work on each day.

Day of the weekMondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturdaySunday
Daily winsFull-length practice testsGo over the answer and explanations from the previous practice testDay offEnglishMathReading & ScienceDay off
# of hours4 hours2 hoursN/A2 hours2 hours3 hoursN/A

In the above sample, there is a total of 13 hours a week that you should allocate for your test prep. If you wish for a more intensive preparation, you can add one hour for your English prep on Thursday and another one hour on top of your Math prep on Friday to make it a total of 15 hours per week.

Also, if you choose to take the Writing section of the ACT test, you must make time for your essay practice. You can add one hour to it on Thursday and another one hour on Friday.

Moreover, it is noteworthy to mention that the above weekly schedule is just a sample. You can also use the same schedule but alter the sections. Instead of having all four sections in a week, you can make a weekly bloc, say ACT English for the entire week 1, and so on.

Finally, if you notice, the first day of your week has four hours of study time. This is because you have to practice the tests as if you are in the actual ACT test, which roughly runs for four hours. This schedule for your full-length practice tests will help you build stamina as you ace an intensive test for four hours straight with very minimal breaks in between.

Assess your strengths and weaknesses as well. For example, if you are confident with your ability in the ACT English, then you can limit the amount of time you spend on it and use them for other sections that you’re struggling with. 

Down below is an ACT test study guide for you if you wish to study through weekly blocs per section. We will also give you some tips on the initial preps you have to do for you to study wisely.

Week 1

  1. Set a specific target – Check with your college plans. If you plan to enroll in the most distinguished colleges, then set higher goals. If you have no particular school in mind, set a safe target to be on the top 75th percentile. 
  2. Identify your baseline score – Your baseline score is the score you will potentially garner right now if you are going to take the ACT test without studying for the ACT test. You can identify your baseline score by taking an official ACT test, taking breaks according to official ACT break times, and timing yourself according to how long each section takes. Use ACT bubble sheets as well to get accustomed to how an ACT test is done. Afterward, calculate your score on your own through the ACT score calculator (1).
  3. Figure out how much you need to improve on – Using your baseline score and your target score, figure out how much you need to improve on. As we have said, aim to land the top 75th percentile to make sure that you have bigger chances of being admitted in most colleges.
  4. Work on your weak spots – Assuming that you have already taken the full-length practice tests, proceed to review the answers and their corresponding explanations. Find out what makes some of your answers wrong and figure out how you can improve in those areas. For those correct answers, you can also find out more efficient ways of solving them.
  5. Study ACT English section – Begin by learning what English concepts you will be tested on in the actual ACT test and work from there. Study those concepts and discover strategies that will work for you. 

Week 2

  1. Begin with the Reading section – In the actual ACT test, the ACT Reading section follows the first section. You can start on this section by the second week of your test prep. Familiarize the format of the ACT Reading and learn what passages you will possibly see in the actual exam.
  2. Practice strategies for the Reading section – Keep in mind that you have an average of less than a minute to answer each question in the Reading section, so explore strategies that can make you efficient without sacrificing the accuracy of your answers. You may want to try the deductive method wherein you will read the choices first before skimming the passage.
  3. Utilize ACT flashcards for ACT Reading – You can make use of flashcards to determine the correct answers in every potential passage.
  4. Familiarize the common ACT vocabulary – There are common vocabulary terms used in the ACT, so make sure to familiarize them. This way, you will become adept with what terms you will most likely be tested on.

Week 3

  1. Start with the Math section – Go through what’s expected of you in the ACT Math or what potential Math concepts you should expect in this section.
  2. Practice basic Math concepts – Although there are certain Math concepts that will most likely come out in the ACT test, you still have to practice the basic ones like fractions, proportions, and integers because they are all-around concepts.
  3. Memorize Math formulas – At this point, memorize Math formulas, especially the most difficult ones. Being familiar with the formulas will help you solve Math problems easily.
  4. Work on the major Math area found in the ACT test – 45% of the Math section is Geometry, so make sure to review this part. You can then follow through with Trigonometry, Algebra, and other Math areas. 

Week 4

  1. Begin with the Science section – Start off with the Science section by going through its ACT format and what concepts to expect in the actual ACT.
  2. Review Science concepts – Work on the concepts you are struggling with the most and have a short review with those concepts you are more comfortable with.
  3. Develop a strategy – It can be the usual read the question first before skimming the passage, or it can be a totally different strategy. Regardless, work on this by this week.
  4. Take an official ACT practice test – Now that you’re on your last week before the ACT test day, take an official ACT practice test in a simulated testing condition. You can also use the ACT bubble sheet so you’ll get used to how it’s done in the actual test.
  5. Calculate your progress – After the test, calculate your improvement, so you will have an idea or prediction on how well you will do on the actual exam.
  6. Go through the answers and their explanations – Like what you did on the first week of the ACT study guide, go through the answers, and brush up on those problematic areas to lessen your mistakes. 
  7. Review all your strategies for each ACT section – Learn how to read tables, charts, and passages as well.
  8. Study using ACT flashcards – By this week, your goal is to finalize your test prep without putting too much pressure on yourself. The best way to do this is to review using flashcards.
  9. Take ample rest a day before the test – Give yourself a pat on the back for your efforts to study for the ACT test. Now is the time to rest your mind and for you to relax to gain more focus on exam day. 

What Else Do You Need?

Here’s a quick rundown of what you need to prepare.

  • ACT flashcards
  • ACT prep books
  • ACT study guide
  • Free study timer app 

There you have it! We’re hoping that this post has given you insights into how to study for the ACT in a month efficiently and how to manage your time wisely.