Are you wondering how to prep for the ACT with limited time? In this blog, we’ll go over efficient prep methods, or in other words, how to get the most out of your ACT prep.
Take a Practice Test
The first thing we recommend you do is take an ACT practice test. If you take a practice test, you can diagnose and then tackle your weaknesses. For example, if you get a 25 on every section except for Reading, which is a 17, then you know that Reading is your weak point. At the same time, finding your weaknesses also means figuring out what types of questions you’re missing. If you don’t have our online course, you can also do this by looking at the question and trying to figure out what each question is testing.
If you are looking for free practice tests to take, you can find them on our resources page.
Understand Your Weaknesses & Attack the Lowest Hanging Fruit
After you’ve taken your practice test, you need to understand your weakest areas and attack the lowest hanging fruit. By low-hanging fruit, we mean the easiest questions to improve on. If you’re trying to get a better ACT score, you want to work on the easy stuff first. You also want to look at material that appears often, as opposed to material that doesn’t appear that often.
The English Section
The overall lowest hanging fruit on the ACT is probably the English section. So if you don’t have a lot of time left, English is the number one section to work on to increase your composite score. One way to do this is to find a book or website that goes through all the English rules and focus on the rules you missed on your practice test. If you don’t have a budget to work with, check out the library for English books, or use Google to look up the questions you missed. If you do purchase a book, we recommend finding a book written by an independent tutor instead of a big brand name.
The Math Section
The next section to tackle is Math. The Math section is easy to improve, but it takes a lot of time. To improve your math score, focus first on the first 30 questions. These tend to be the easier questions, and that’s the type of material you can work on and fix more quickly. If you get through the first 30 questions alright, maybe continue up to 45. After 45, we start getting into the more difficult problems. Focusing on those problems will be more time-consuming and require more depth of knowledge.
Reading and Science
The final two sections, Reading and Science, are not content-based. This means you don’t need a lot of outside information in order to get a great score. These sections are more about habit. If you want to spend money on a private tutor, these are the sections to work on, because they require you to rewire your habits.
Our main tip for the Reading section is to make sure you are basing all of your answer choices on evidence from the passage. That means you should go back to double-check your answer. Find the correct section of the passage, and make sure you answer the question based on that evidence. Make sure to be very careful about the details in this section, and don’t pick any answers that are only half right. If you’re really struggling, you can also do an untimed Reading section and take as much time as you need to answer the questions and get as much right as you can. This way, you can better understand how the test works.
In Science, the biggest tip is to be careful and make sure you really watch your details. Read a little bit at a time to make sure you understand it. Underline every keyword, and make sure you have the right detail you need to be looking for, like species of animal or month of the year. Being careful and detail-oriented are good habits for these sections.
Focus on Finishing
If you’re getting at least three-fourths correct of every question you try on the test and you’re just not done, then getting more done will probably help your score. In any case, you want to make sure you put an answer choice for every single question because there’s no penalty for guessing. The one exception to this is the Math section. If you just don’t know the material when you get to the final questions in the Math section, then it’s okay to just fill in bubbles. However, in the other three sections where the final questions aren’t necessarily more difficult, it will help you to not spend so much time earlier on the test, and keep going to get more of those questions right.