10 tips for a high score on the October ACT

If you’re taking the ACT on October 26, here are a few quick pointers to maximize your score on test day:

1)  Get everything ready the night before, and eat a good breakfast on test day.  Don’t scramble the morning of the test to find everything you need.  By Friday night, you should have printed out your admission ticket and gotten together your photo ID, calculator, number 2 pencils, water and snacks, and anything else you want to bring with you.  And eat a good breakfast — you need energy to make it through 4 hours of test-taking!

2)  Remember your calculator.  You’re allowed to use a calculator on the ACT math section.  Most scientific and graphing calculators are acceptable.  Your math work will be much quicker and more accurate with a calculator — and make sure you check your batteries!

3)  Be at the test center by 8:00 am.  You normally need to be at your testing site by 8:00 am.  Know how to get there and plan to leave on time.  You’ll minimize your stress if you’re not running late.

4)  On the English section: look for short answers.  Economy (saying what you need to say with a minimum of words) is prized on the ACT English section.  Start with the shortest answer and see if that works.  It’s rare that a wordy answer will be correct in ACT English.

5)  On the math section: work carefully, use your calculator, and get as many points as possible from the early questions.  Accuracy is the name of the game in ACT math.  Read carefully, write out your work, and use your calculator for the best results.  ACT math questions start off easy and become very difficult by the end, so try to maximize your points on the early questions!

6)  On the reading section: work quickly and focus on the details.  The big challenge of ACT reading is speed.  You only have 35 minutes to read 4 passages and answer 40 questions.  If you do the math, that’s less than one minute per question, including your reading time.  So you must work quickly to do well on ACT reading!  Take just a couple minutes to read the passage and then move on to the questions.  Focus on key words in each question to help you find the answer in the passage.

7)  On the science section: don’t use outside knowledge and look for patterns.  Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to know much about science to do well on the ACT science section.  All the information you need is in the passages.  As you’re studying tables and graphs in an ACT science passage, observe any patterns and take note of the relationship of one variable to another.  For instance, as altitude increases, how does the temperature change?

8)  On the essay: brainstorm, write as much as possible, and use counterarguments.  Take a few minutes to plan your essay so it’s well-organized and coherent.  Use as much of the supplied 4 pages as possible.  And finally, address counterarguments to strengthen your own argument.

9)  Answer all questions, even if you run out of time.  Unlike the SAT, there’s no guessing penalty on the ACT.  Save a minute at the end of each section to bubble in answers for any questions you didn’t have time to do.

10)  Bubble in your answers cleanly and carefully.  Except for the essay section, your answers on the ACT are machine-graded.  If you change an answer, erase completely.  And make sure you’re bubbling in the correct section and not skipping any questions!

Good luck this weekend!


Want more ACT test-taking tips and techniques?  Email AJ Tutoring at info@ajtutoring.com for more information.

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