Cram for the ACT with valuable last minute tips to help you prepare as awesomely as possible. If you’re taking the ACT next week, and need help or didn’t study as much as you would have liked, fear not! We’ve got you covered! Below I go over some last minute tips to help you make the most of your time – and help you fully prepare for test day.
1. Get to Know the Test
If you don’t have a lot of time to prep for the test, the best thing you can do is at least familiarize yourself with it. Get a hold of a sample practice test and read through the directions, which are the same on every exam. You can also access resources on the ACT website. You want to familiarize yourself with the directions ahead of time so you’re not wasting time on exam day. TIME is one of the most challenging things about the ACT – you want to be ready for it. One thing to keep in mind – THERE’S NO PENALTY FOR GUESSING. If you do run out of time, choose one letter and mark that down for all the remaining answer choices. Always bubble something!
2. Learn ACT Secrets
Make sure to check out our “Number One Secret Tip” series for the ACT. These videos give you some basic tips on how to approach certain problem types. For my cram warriors, the Science, Reading, and English tips are going to be the most valuable to you. The Math tip is for people who have a little more prep time, so trying to cram for math is going to be more difficult. If you do have a little more time, then definitely check it out!
3. Take a Practice Test
Time yourself taking a practice test and see how you do. Timing is the MOST DIFFICULT part of the ACT. It is a crucial area to focus on and the easiest thing to tweak and improve. PACING IS KEY! You may not have time to do an entire practice test. If that’s the case, I recommend at minimum working through 2-3 questions from each section. Familiarize yourself so you can get a good understanding of what you have to do. If you can take a few full sections, use a stopwatch to TIME YOURSELF. This test is hard to finish on time. If you know that going in then your going to benefit more and be able to pace yourself better.
I recommend tackling the Science and Reading sections first. Next – if you have the time – try to complete the math section. If you can’t find the time to complete an entire math section then focus more on the second half – the last 30 questions. Give yourself about 40 minutes to complete those last 30 questions and see how you do. The English section tends to be the one students don’t screw up as much. Touch on this last. It is always better to take a full practice test but some is better than none.
4. Check Your Answers
Check your answers to the practice test, reviewing the ones you got wrong. Learning from your mistakes is one of the best ways to learn. We call it “The Testing Effect“. Make sure to check out our video on that!
5. What to Pack
Cram your backpack! Check out our video “What to Pack for the ACT” where I go into detail on what you should bring on the big day. Make sure you gather all those things the night before so you’re not scrambling the day of. You also want to make sure your calculator is approved. The TI-89, TI – 92, and TI – Nspire CAS edition ARE NOT approved. Make sure to check the ACT website for the full list. Some things I will add to list – that the ACT recommends – are a pencil sharpener, and food. Which brings me to my next important tip….
6. Cram lots of FOOD!
If you want the best chance of survival on this test make sure to:
1. Eat a good breakfast
- High Energy
2. Bring good snacks
Technically the ACT says that you’re not allowed to have food in the testing center, but that’s FALSE. Snacks are allowed as long as they are in a zip locked bag and stored in your book bag. Feel free to eat your snacks during breaks when you go out into the hallway or when they let you leave the testing center for a little bit.
Why is food so important? Studies have shown that students do better on standardized tests when they’ve had breakfast. When you eat right before you work, you are getting the best version of your brain. That’s what you want when you’re sitting down to take the ACT. So eat, eat, eat, cram some calories for energy, and bring lots of snacks! Things to avoid – COFFEE. It ‘s wise to avoid coffee unless you regularly have caffeine, as it can rattle your nerves– the natural adrenaline rush – from taking the exam – should be enough to fuel you. Coffee is also a diuretic and may stimulate an urge to urinate, which can be very distracting and uncomfortable during testing.
7. Program Your Calculator
I have a full video on how to program your calculator, which you can watch here:
The ACT is very strict on the kinds of programs you’re allowed to have. You can’t have overly complex problems but can have simple programs that do a function.
Some programs I suggest that you download are:
— The quadratic equation
— A slope solver / slope intercept equation solver
— Distance Formula
— Midpoint Formula
We’ve even created a handy series of our own programs that you can use on the test:
We think these follow the rules that we’ve read, but can’t be responsible for any changes the ACT may enact to its calculator policy– so it’s your responsibility to make sure these all adhere to the guidelines.
Overall, familiarize yourself with the test as much as you can, whether it’s reading over the section directions, or taking sample tests. Hopefully these tips were helpful, and good luck cramming for the ACT!