Do you want to obtain the highest score possible in the ACT? Did you study enough? Have you developed strategies to manage your time wisely and answer the test efficiently?
If you answered yes to all these, good for you! You just need to learn a few more ACT tips and tricks that will be applicable on the test day itself.
Everyone loves strategies as if they were some kind of secrets to success. This is why we created this article that tackles all the ACT strategies you have to know to ace your ACT test.
ACT English: ACT test tips to live by
- Go for the most straightforward answer – Most of the questions in the English section need clear and concise answers. They have a logical and straightforward sentence structure.
In order to spot that straightforward answer, carefully examine each choice provided, and see how they differ from one another. In cases where you need to fill in the right answer, do a trial and error of each answer choice, and see which ones fit appropriately to the sentence. As with those questions with underlined texts, look for context clues that you can find in the surrounding sentences.
- Be careful with the “No Change” answers – The “No Change” is a tricky answer choice in the English section, because you might be tempted to choose it without carefully reviewing the answer choices. If you are not familiar with complicated grammar rules, you might end up thinking that the given passage has no incorrect parts, hence you might go straight to the “No Change” answer option.
However, if you really think that the given passage has no error, then it is safe to go for the “No Change” answer choice. In fact, this answer choice is the right option for 25 to 30% of the time. Nonetheless, the best way to beat these questions in the English section is to familiarize yourself with basic to complicated grammar rules (1). Choose the “No Change” answer choice only when you think that the whole passage does not have any error.
- Read and review the entire sentence – Consider the entire sentence, especially when answering questions about punctuation and grammar. You have to read and review the sentence as a whole even if the question is asking you to focus on a subset. Your goal is to be able to spot the answer that makes sense within the context of the entire passage.
Also, review punctuation rules (2), especially about commas because most students get confused when and how to add one in a sentence. Master this part and you should be good to go.
- Find an answer that adds clarity or supports the passage – There are two broad skill areas that are tested in the English section, (1) usage & mechanics, and (2) rhetorical skills. One of the question types being tested in the latter skill area is organization. This is the part that some students find confusing. Therefore, you have to select the answer choice that adds clarity to the passage and not jumble the message of the passage.
One of the best ACT tips to pass this part of the exam is to pay attention to how one sentence connects to the other as the organization of a passage also involves the proper transition of ideas. You must also observe the clear relationship between clauses when dealing with questions that involve sentence structure.
- Have a strong grasp of the passage’s meaning and tone – There are some questions in the English section that tests your ability to gauge the writing style, tone, and message of the passage. That said, it is crucial that you review the entire passage as quickly as possible with the right focus. You don’t want to repeat reading the passage while trying to understand what it tries to convey. Review the entire passage one time and determine the right answer immediately.
ACT Math: Helpful ACT cheats and hints
- Memorize all the formulas and equations by heart – Memorizing critical formulas and equations (3) is one of the ACT test taking strategies you should master. Doing so will help lessen the time you’ll spend solving a problem during the test. There is a reference page on the first page of the Math section, but it does consume more time when you keep checking on It. It’s better to know the formulas and equations by heart.
Beforehand, you can learn and memorize the formulas and equations that are often used in the ACT. Also, make sure that you know how to use these formulas and equations to make problem-solving easy.
- Plug-in answers – We do not recommend this as your first strategy when answering Math questions, but you can incorporate this when you find yourself stuck in a specific problem. All you have to do is plug-in each answer choice back to the equation and see which one of these answers works.
Again, do not use this as your first ACT test strategy because it consumes a lot of your time. Instead, use this as a last resort when you are having a hard time answering a problem. It works and it helps, especially if you are unsure of what solution to use.
- Skip questions or problems you cannot solve fast – When you are unsure what to answer or if you don’t know how to solve a Math problem, you can skip it for the meantime. Move to other questions that you can answer quickly, then go back to the skipped question.
Remember, when you are fixated on a problem you cannot answer, it wastes your time and it provokes anxiety. You don’t want that to happen, right? Move on and get back to that question once all the easy questions have been answered. This may be one secret on how to ace the ACT examination. The plug-in strategy also works if you still find yourself stuck on how to solve a particular problem even after you have circled back to it.
- Work on time management – Remember, you have a maximum of one minute to solve each question in the Math section. That’s pretty short, especially for questions you find difficult to answer or solve.
Prior to the test, be sure to practice answering Math problems with a time limit so you would get used to it. During the actual test, you should not sink too much time on any of the questions. After all, the questions are worth the same amount of points, so work on those you have the answer to and just go back to the more complicated ones if you still have the time.
- Bring an ACT-approved calculator – The ACT does not require you to bring a calculator because you do not really need a calculator to solve any of the questions in the ACT. However, it is a huge advantage if you bring one so you can save time in doing calculations. You will become more efficient as you finish each question for not more than sixty seconds.
Also, keep in mind that you should bring only ACT-approved calculator (4). Plus, we want to remind you that it is best that you are familiar with how to navigate the calculator as you don’t want to spend so much time figuring out how to use it on the actual test day. Practice using your ACT-approved calculator beforehand and use it all throughout your test prep period.
ACT Reading: ACT tips beyond words
- Familiarize the structure of this section – The Reading section takes 35 minutes to finish, and it starts right after the 15-minute-break. Remember, this section is comprised of four reading passages with 10 questions each.
The passages are presented in the usual similar order: (1) prose fiction, (2) social studies, (3) humanities, and (4) natural sciences. Knowing how the Reading section is put together will help you come up with an even better strategy, especially when it comes to which topic area you will need to answer first.
- Start with the topic area you are most interested in – Your goal is to read and understand the passages as quickly as possible, so we recommend you start off with the passage that you are most interested in.
Once you are done with those topic areas you are comfortable with, then you can easily move on to topic areas you do not find appealing. This tip for acing the ACT will save you time in the long run than getting stuck in a passage you are trying to understand so badly.
- Skim passages for main points – Some students can read passages normally and still finish answering each question efficiently, but there are those who have a difficult time doing so. Therefore, we suggest that you skim passages for main points.
How do you do that? Read the introductory and concluding paragraphs as well as the first and last sentences of every paragraph in the body of the passage. This skimming method allows you to get an overview of the whole idea and grasp the main points that are usually mentioned in those parts. When you are also confronted with questions that ask for small details, then that’s the time you can read some certain parts.
- Eliminate the answers that are obviously incorrect – All the questions in the Reading section have four answer choices each and only one answer is correct. That means that you can use the process of elimination by crossing out all the answers that you think are incorrect. This will save you time than getting stuck on guessing which of them is the correct answer.
The obviously incorrect answer choices are those with flawed parts. Sometimes, even a single word can make an entire answer choice as incorrect, so spot those flaws and eliminate answers that have them. Opt for the answer choice that’s free of errors as it’s likely to be the most fitting answer.
- Pick an answer that has passage evidence – The Reading section can be a bit tricky as each question appears subjective. Remember, each question requires one answer only. Therefore, you have to choose the answer that’s supported with evidence that can be found from the passage. In other words, there should be a direct relationship among ideas if you are to choose a sensible answer.
ACT Science: ACT test strategies worth Dissecting
- Don’t be afraid to mark-up passages – The Science section is loaded with details that you have to actively take down notes in your test booklet. You can even underline keywords and encircle sentences. What matters is your completed Scantron sheet. Notate all the necessary information if that helps you retain information so you can answer better. As long as you will not be doodling unnecessary figures, then all is fine.
Don’t worry, you will not be penalized for writing down on your booklet. Be sure not to overdo your notes, though so as not to catch attention. If possible, write down on the margins of the booklet.
- Don’t be bothered too much with terminologies and technical details – As we have mentioned in the above ACT test tip, the Science section is pretty overwhelming when it comes to facts. However, not every information you see in the passages is essential to be able to answer the question. Most of the time, they are just thrown in to make this section appear difficult in a way that will test your ability to gauge the most vital information relevant to what is being asked.
All you have to do is to read and grasp the main points and familiarize the data presented. Even better, you can cross out unnecessary details to come up with information that truly matters.
- Rely on the visual presentations for answers – You can take a look at the passages, but don’t spend so much time there. Instead, focus your attention on visual presentations like graphs, tables, and charts. Most of the time, these visuals provide enough information for you to answer the questions.
The overwhelming details are purposely laid out to make this section difficult, but remember that this section is more on logical reasoning and data interpretation than knowing all the facts in the science department. Prior to the test, you can practice interpreting data and determining trends as fast as possible. You can also look over scientific publications to familiarize popular science data.
- Answer the conflicting viewpoints last – This is considered the most time-consuming part in the Science section because it involves two or three viewpoints about a particular scientific issue. You are then asked to distinguish how these viewpoints relate to one another.
Leave these passages until the very end when you’re done with the questions that you can easily answer. The passages with conflicting viewpoints are reading-intensive, so it’s time-consuming. This is especially because you have to analyze their relation to one another. Plus, this portion does not have visual aids, so you have to rely on the information in the passages to be able to answer the questions.
- Work on your pacing before the test – This section has passages that contain five to eight questions to answer. Since you have only 35 minutes for the entire Science section, you should allocate a maximum of five minutes to answer all questions in one passage.
To achieve that target time limit, you have to practice your pacing for the Science section prior to the test. Practice at least one month before your test day. You can try answering the questions for each passage for seven minutes, then reduce it to five minutes.
ACT Writing: Because you might need to take it
- Practice how to write an excellent introduction and conclusion – Your entire essay is important, but these two parts–introduction and conclusion–are two of the crucial parts that can leave a lasting impression to the graders.
Practice how to create a catchy introduction as you introduce your thesis. Your conclusion should also restate your thesis while showing a thorough understanding of how all your ideas relate to one another. Demonstrate how to logically structure an essay by making sure your introduction and conclusion are related.
- Use transition words – Come up with an essay with seamless transitions in between sentences and paragraphs to make it appear sound and logical. Writing involves tons of conjunction words. Use them appropriately in certain parts of your essay to make a clear and distinctive transition of ideas.
The effective use of transition words is one of the essential aspects the graders will look into when evaluating your essay. Once you are able to pull it off, your ideas can be conveyed better. There should be a smooth flow and that can be done through proper transitions.
- Incorporate some less common words in your paragraphs – One of the criteria in evaluating your essay is your choice of words, and this includes those that display your extensive vocabulary. Use two or three words that are not commonly used in daily conversation or writing for each paragraph to create a sophisticated style. However, do not overdo it as this might make your essay difficult to understand.
Also, we recommend that you use words that you know and understand yourself. This way, you use them in your essay in the right context.
- Write your essay up to four pages – Based on trends, most students who came up with an essay that reaches up to four pages scored higher than those who had written essays with less than three pages.
Length is not an official criterion for the Writing section, but it’s an understated criterion for the graders. They would assume that those who wrote longer essays had more to say and had better arguments to include. Just remember to write your essay as legibly as possible without sacrificing your penmanship because graders would typically take your hard-to-read essay against you.
- Outline a list of possible essay prompts – As much as possible, have a good idea of what prompts can possibly come out during the ACT test day. You can seek examples from different fields like history, arts, literature, global phenomenon, and even personal experiences.
Be sure to avoid vague or hypothetical examples when making your point because these would make you appear less convincing. Instead, your essay should appear sound and factual to persuade your readers to your way of thinking.
General Tips on how to pass the ACT test
In addition to the section-specific ACT tips and tricks listed above, there are a few general tips that you should not overlook.
- Stay calm and get a good night’s sleep before your test day – We know you might be anxious and you cannot sleep well, but we recommend you try to sleep early the night before your test day. A solid sleep and bountiful rest will equip you with enough energy to survive the exam the following day.
As always, an eight-hour-sleep is highly recommended as it repairs and prepares your body and mind to become ready for the real battle on the next day. Of course, try to be as calm as possible because feeling anxious will derail your focus.
- Eat a hearty breakfast – The entire ACT test will take you four to five hours to complete, so be sure to eat a healthy and satisfying breakfast. Consume enough food and drinks to fill you up until you are done with all the sections. The last thing you want to have on your test day is a growling stomach. A sufficient breakfast meal will also make you energized and awake throughout the test period.
In a Nutshell
An ACT can be overwhelming, considering that it will dictate how your college life will be like or if you’ll have one. The test prep is already stressful, especially if the exam day is fast approaching. But with these ACT tips, we’re hoping that we can help you face the test with confidence.
We’ve provided the best ACT tips for each section. Remember them and be sure to apply each of them as you work your way towards excellent performance in the ACT test. Follow the tips we have shared and your efforts would surely pay off.