Whether you’re about to take the ACT or just beginning to study, every student can benefit from knowing these tips for acing the exam.
I. Process of Elimination
Sometimes, the quickest way to find the right answer is to eliminate the wrong ones. If you can’t figure out the right answer choice, start by crossing out answer choices you know don’t work. This will better your chances of getting the question correct.
II. For Math + Science Sections, Questions Get Harder As You Go
This means questions 30-60 on the math section are harder than questions 1-30. For the science section, questions at the end of the passages are harder than those at the beginning. Knowing this can help you plan out the best strategies to tackle these sections. Perhaps you want to do all the easier questions first. Or you want to do the harder questions while your mind is still fresh.
III. Always Put Down an Answer
There are no penalties for wrong answers on the ACT!
IV. Do Questions Out of Order
This applies to the reading and science sections that have reading passages. Sometimes, it can benefit you to not go in order. Possibly answer the questions at the end of the passages (which often are more synthesis based), then do the earlier questions (which are more evidence-based).
V. Skim the Reading Passages
The ACT questions can be very literal. Often times, the correct answer is a detail in the passage you can pick up by just skimming the passage. As long as you have a general idea of how the passage is flowing and a general map of the story, you’ll be okay to answer the questions.
VI. Backsolving Math
While this can be a time-consuming strategy, it helps to use the answer choices to figure out a math problem. Plug in different answer choices and backsolve to see if they answer the question.
VII. Eyeball Geometry Shapes and Lengths
Don’t waste too much time calculating the actual lengths and other metrics of a picture. Picture based questions can be eyeballed rather quickly.
VIII. Go Back into the Passage
This mainly applies to the reading and science sections. Pretend like the question has no answer choices. Find the correct answer first in the passage, then circle the answer choice that best fits the answer you found.
IX. Make Up Numbers
For math questions with unknown variables, it helps to plug in a random number to solve the problem.
X. Use Your Pencil
Take advantage of the fact that you can write on the test! Underline important lines, write in the margins, take notes, and more.
XI. Know the Test
Do not go into the ACT cold. Know the format (how many questions in each section, how many sections, the types of questions asked). This will definitely improve your score.
XII. Have a Pacing Plan
The ACT is notoriously difficult for its pacing. You must know how much time you get for each section, and figure out how much time you can allot for each passage and each question.
One Size Does Not Fit All
Not every tip may apply to you. But try them all out at least once. Play around with different strategies until you find the ones that best work for you.
Happy studying, and good luck!