ACT Tips | Test Taking Strategies & Hacks

It’s no secret that there are lots of areas that you need to cover to fully prepare for a standardized test. However, since they are standardized, it means that there are very specific measures that you can take to ensure that you’ll get the results you want. The best ACT tips, for example, can really come in handy for those who are scheduled to take the ACT soon.

No matter how intimidating this exam may be, the fact that it’s standardized should offer you some consolation. This means that it’s completely possible to prepare yourself with these recommended online classes.

The right ACT tips and tricks that can help you do just this.

To find out what these tips, tricks, and hacks are, check out our list below.

6 of the Most Useful ACT Tips that You Need to Know

Take advantage of the information available to you.

There are tons of details about the ACT that you can find online and from test prep specialists. From the test format, old test questions, to how many difficult questions are in the exam, you’ll all find them if you look for them.

most useful information you need to know about act

This is why researching is one of the first things that a lot of experts will tell you to do when you’re already planning to take on the ACT. With the complex nature of this test, you need to know as much as you can about it.

One of the best places to start learning the most important information about the ACT is its website.

Here, you’ll get all the official information about the test so you can be sure that they’re correct and accurate. Their website is packed with useful and necessary information so it can really prove to be very useful to you.

Aside from the official website, you should also check the schools you’re planning to apply to in case they have pertinent information, rules, or policies about the ACT. Learning about such details will help you take the right measures to prepare for the test and your college application.

You should also make sure to learn about the basic details about the ACT that can affect your preparation. This should include their rules on the validity of the scores, the registration dates, and the scores you should target depending on your goals and plans among many others.

Learn everything you can about the ACT test day.

This might seem like it should be a part of the previous tip but it’s a very important point so we feel like it deserves its own entry. Test days are very important days and you should also be ready for them as much as you’re ready for the actual test. Why? Because there’s so much that can happen during the test day that can affect how you take the exam.

Sometimes, people get too caught up with the actual test that they forget the other details that come with it. Test day preps are the most common examples of this. So if you really want to learn how to study for the ACT, you should also make sure to remember to know what you need to do on the test day.

What are these things that you should learn about the ACT test day? Here are a few to take note of:

  • How to take the ACT
  • What time you should be inside the venue
  • What are the best and right types of clothes to wear when taking the exam
  • What are the testing venue policies regarding breaks, cellphone use, and Test Date Changes among others
  • What are the acceptable calculators for ACT
  • What are the items you should bring on test day
learn everything you can about the act test day

Another crucial pro-tip a lot of previous test-takers share about the test day is that you should take breaks. Breaks are held every after two sections and you should take advantage of them.

This will help you take a breather and unwind a bit. They’re also the only times you’re allowed to eat or drink, so you should really take them.

Look up the best ACT test-taking strategies previous test-takers and experts share.

Speaking of test day, you should, of course, also be prepared for the actual test-taking process. We’re not talking about the test format, content, and coverage hee, though. This is to emphasize that you should also have a few tricks up your sleeves when it comes to answering the test.

For starters, you should know how to best manage your time. As there are time limits applied to each section, you will be struggling with some time crunch which makes the test a lot more challenging. This is why experts say that you shouldn’t dawdle on test questions if you find them hard. Move on to the next question after you mark the ones you haven’t answered yet. This will be a more efficient use of your time.

Having a go-to pick to the items you don’t know the answer to is also one of the most popular ACT strategies that are highly recommended by many. As the ACT doesn’t punish examinees for wrong answers, you don’t have to leave any item blank. In fact, by having a solid combination of go-to answers might even boost your odds of getting some of them correctly.

Marking your test booklet instead of the answer sheet is also recommended if you’re worried that you’ll make a mistake in marking your answers. By doing this, you’ll be able to focus on answering the test questions instead of being very conscious about which bubbles to shade.

Don’t use the same measures to approach the different sections of the ACT.

Despite being a standardized test, the various sections of the ACT are also very different in nature. This is why you shouldn’t use the exact same measures on them if you want to get the best results.

To help you tackle each portion of the test effectively, here are a few key tips on how to study for each of the ACT sections.

ACT English Tips

There are a few good tricks that should help you prepare for and find the right answers in the ACT English section. Some of them are the following:

  1. Look for the most concise answer. The test is designed to look for the most straightforward and logical sentence structure. So if there’s a choice that’s more concise than your other options and without any errors, go for it.

  2. Find out which ACT grammar rules will be included in the test. You don’t need to memorize all of the grammar rules there is as not all of them will come out in the test. You just really need to master a few. Some of these are:

    • Punctuations

    • Conjunctions

    • Subject-verb agreement

    • Adverbs and adjectives

    • Pronoun agreement

  3. Give the ‘no change’ option a chance. Sometimes, there’s no need to fix certain parts of the passages so don’t hesitate to choose the ‘no change’ option. Remember that this section is considered tricky, so trust yourself and be confident with your answers.

  4. Read the passages completely first. It might be tempting to choose an answer as you read the passage but it might make you waste time as well. Reading the whole paragraph will give you more context and information about the passage, so it will be useful to do so if you want to be more efficient in answering the questions that follow.

ACT Math Tips

For the math section, here are the tips you can use to ace the test:

  1. Know all of the topics that are included in the test. This will help you craft an effective ACT math study guide. By knowing which topics to work on, you’ll be able to focus on them when studying for the exam. This will help you streamline your efforts and make the math test less daunting than before.

  2. Look for the most authentic ACT math practice questions. This will help you get better acquainted with what the math section is like.

  3. Familiarize yourself with graphs, diagrams, and charts. The math section of the ACT tends to rely heavily on these visual aids so you should get better acquainted with them.

  4. Include crafting a formula sheet on your ACT math prep plan. Unlike the SAT, you won’t get a formula sheet in the ACT. This is why it’s best to memorize the key formulas that are bound to come out in the said test beforehand.

ACT Reading Tips

The ACT reading test may seem like the simplest out of the bunch but it’s not really the case. This is also a pretty complex section so you’ll need the best tips to tackle the section effectively. Here are a few that you should remember:

  1. Know what to look for in each passage. As there are different types of passages in the reading section, you can’t expect to be asked of the same thing from them. Find out what the questions are usually like for each kind of passage.

  2. Read the questions first. Unlike in the English section, reading the questions first is one of the key ACT reading strategies that you should know. Why? The questions will give you an idea of what the passage will be like and what you should look for in the text. This will then help you spot the answers right away.

  3. Practice a lot. This test is heavy on reading, so make sure that you have the endurance for the activity.

  4. Do not dwell on a single passage. If you don’t understand something, it’s better to move on and just go back later. You’ll only get 35 minutes for this part of the test so you should make the most of it.

ACT Science Tips

This test’s science section is another unique part of the test that might take you by surprise. If you don’t want to be caught unawares by what it has in store for you, here are some tips on how to pass the ACT science portion:

  1. Know what the questions are like. The ACT science test isn’t like other science tests you might have already taken in school so it’s best to get familiar with what it’s like. As it uses passages and tests your comprehension and data analysis skills, it can throw you for a loop if you’re not ready.

  2. Again, don’t dawdle on a single item. If you don’t know what to answer to a passage, skip it and go back to it later when you still have the time. The time crunch in the science section can be pressing, so you should learn how to overcome it effectively

  3. Make use of the charts and graphs to the best of your abilities. This is another example of the best ACT science strategies because this section will also try to overwhelm you with concepts and terminologies. Focus on the data instead and you’ll find answers for most of the questions on the test.

ACT Writing Tips

If you opt to take on this section, here are a few things that can help you get great scores:

  1. Pre-plan your essay. Even if you can’t possibly know what the prompt will be, you can still have some details about your essay planned ahead. Take some ideas from sample ACT essays and you can save time and lessen the stress that you’ll have to face in this section.

  2. Do not use vague examples. You need to get your point across so you can’t seem like you’re uncertain about your argument. Some experts might even encourage you to make up statistics or data to support your argument. Since graders won’t get to fact-check anyway, you might just be able to get away with this as long as your essay is well crafted and engaging.

  3. Write a good introduction and conclusion. These two parts will do a lot for your essay, so make sure to write them well.

  4. Practice makes perfect. Doing so will help you perfect the format of your essay and help you speed up your writing process.

Look for the best study materials that you can get.

look for the best study materials that you can get

This is another popular tip on how to study for the ACT effectively and efficiently. As you will most likely need to self-study for ACT, it will be ideal to get the best materials to help you do so.

The best ACT prep books will serve as your guide and manual in navigating your way through the test prep process.

The Official ACT Prep Guide is a good material to start with in this case. It’s from the people behind the ACT so it can offer the most accurate information there is.

Take care of yourself while preparing for the test day.

Another commonly overlooked tip in how to ace the ACT is self-care. Getting ready for an important test like this is stressful and all that can be harmful to your health. It can also be detrimental to your efforts as it can affect your memory and learning. So if you really want to ace the ACT, make sure to care for your wellbeing, too.

Practice a lot.

This isn’t a unique tip but it bears repeating because practicing will do wonders for your test-taking skills and confidence. It can then boost your confidence and help you better handle the stress that comes with the test.

Leonard Haggin

I created this site to help students like you learn from the experiences my team had learned during our extensive academic careers. I am now studying Law at Stanford, but I also make time to write articles here in order to help all you fellow students advance in your academic careers and beyond. I hope our efforts on Study Prep Lounge will arm you with the knowledge you need to overcome whatever trial or test you find in front of you.

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