If you’re planning to take the ACT (American College Test) soon, knowing what to expect and how to prepare is important. The ACT is a standardized test that assesses your English, math, reading, science, and writing knowledge. It’s commonly used by colleges and universities in the US as part of their admission process, so it’s essential to do your best.
Here’s everything you need to know about ACT preparation.
What is the ACT?
The ACT is a multiple-choice test measuring your English, math, reading, and science academic skills. It also includes an optional writing test. The test is administered by ACT, Inc., a nonprofit organization that has been providing assessments and other services for over 50 years.
Why Take the ACT?
The ACT is an important test that can impact your future. Colleges and universities use it as part of their admissions process, and many scholarship programs also require ACT scores. Taking the ACT can help you qualify for admission to your desired college or university and can also help you earn scholarships and other financial aid.
What is the Format of the ACT?
The ACT consists of four multiple-choice tests: English, math, reading, and science. Each test is timed, and you have 2 hours and 55 minutes to complete. The optional writing test is an additional 40 minutes. The total test time is 3 hours and 35 minutes.
What is the Scoring of the ACT?
Each of the four multiple-choice tests is scored on a scale of 1-36 and then averaged to get a composite score, also on a scale of 1-36. The writing test is scored on a scale of 2-12 and is reported separately. The composite score is the one most colleges and universities use to evaluate your performance.
How to Register for the ACT?
You can register for the ACT online through the ACT website. You must create an account, provide your personal information, and select a test date and location. You must also upload a photo of yourself, pay the registration fee, and print your admission ticket.
When to Take the ACT?
The ACT is offered several times yearly, typically in September, October, December, February, April, June, and July. It’s a good idea to take the test during your junior or senior year of high school, depending on when you plan to apply to college.
How to Prepare for the ACT?
Preparing for the ACT requires time and effort. You can start by taking practice tests, reviewing content areas that you need improvement in, and developing test-taking strategies. Here are some tips for ACT preparation:
- Take practice tests: Practice tests can help you become familiar with the test format, identify areas where you need improvement, and develop test-taking strategies. The ACT website offers free practice tests, and you can also find practice tests in ACT prep books.
- Review content areas: Reviewing content areas, you need to improve can help you feel more confident on test day. Use ACT prep books or online resources to review English, math, reading, and science concepts.
- Develop test-taking strategies: Test-taking strategies can help you manage your time, eliminate wrong answer choices, and maximize your score. Some strategies include guessing when unsure, reading the questions carefully, and checking your work.
- Take an ACT prep course: An ACT prep course can provide you with structured instruction, practice tests, and personalized feedback. Depending on your preference and schedule, you can take an in-person or online course.
- Get plenty of rest and eat well: Rest and nutrition are essential for optimal test performance. Sleep well the night before the test and eat a healthy breakfast on test day to fuel your brain.
What to Bring on Test Day?
On test day, you must bring your admission ticket, a valid photo ID, several No. 2 pencils, an eraser, and an approved calculator. You should also dress comfortably and in layers, as the testing room temperature may vary.
What to Expect on Test Day?
You must arrive at the test center on time and check in with the proctor on test day. You’ll then be directed to your testing room and given instructions on how to complete the test. The test is administered in sections, with breaks in between, and you’ll need to manage your time carefully to complete each section within the allotted time.
How to Interpret Your ACT Scores?
You’ll see composite and individual scores for each of the four multiple-choice tests when you receive your ACT scores. You’ll also see a writing score if you take the optional writing test. Your scores will be compared to those of other test-takers, and you’ll receive a percentile rank that shows how you performed relative to other students.
How to Improve Your ACT Scores?
You can retake the test if you’re unsatisfied with your ACT scores. You can take the ACT as often as you want, and most colleges and universities will consider your highest score. To improve your scores, you should review content areas that you need improvement in, develop test-taking strategies, and take practice tests.
What are Some ACT Tips and Tricks?
Here are some tips and tricks for success on the ACT:
- Please read the instructions carefully: The instructions for each section of the ACT may vary slightly, so read them carefully before starting each section.
- Manage your time: Time management is essential on the ACT, so make sure to pace yourself and leave time to check your work.
- Eliminate wrong answer choices: You can often eliminate one or two answer choices by looking at them carefully. That can increase your chances of guessing the correct answer if you need more clarification.
- Use your calculator strategically: It can be a powerful tool in the math section of the ACT, but use it strategically and only when necessary.
- Practice mindfulness: Staying calm and focused during the test can help you perform your best. Practice mindfulness techniques, such as deep breathing and positive self-talk, to stay centered and confident.
What are Some ACT Resources?
Here are some resources you can use to prepare for the ACT:
- ACT website: The ACT website offers free practice tests, test-taking tips, and other resources.
- ACT prep books: Many ACT test prep books are available, such as The Official ACT Prep Guide and Barron’s ACT.
- ACT prep courses: You can take an in-person or online ACT preparation course, such as those offered by Kaplan or The Princeton Review.
- Tutoring services: If you need extra help, you can work with a tutor specializing in ACT preparation.
How to Balance ACT Preparation with Other Responsibilities?
Preparing for the ACT can be time-consuming, but balancing your preparation with other responsibilities, such as schoolwork, extracurricular activities, and social life, is important. Here are some tips for balancing ACT preparation with other responsibilities:
Create a study schedule: A study schedule can help you stay on track with your ACT preparation and ensure you’re also devoting time to other responsibilities.
Use breaks wisely: Use breaks between ACT prep sessions to catch up on schoolwork, participate in extracurricular activities, or spend time with friends and family.
Stay organized: Staying organized can help you manage your time more effectively. Use a planner or calendar to keep track of important dates and deadlines.
Prioritize: Identify your most important responsibilities and prioritize them accordingly. That can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed and ensure you devote enough time to each responsibility.
The ACT is an important exam that can impact your college admissions and scholarship opportunities. By understanding what the test covers, how to prepare, and what to expect on test day, you can maximize your chances of success. Remember to take advantage of the many resources available, such as practice tests, test prep courses, and tutoring services. With the right preparation, you can confidently approach the ACT and achieve your goals. Good luck!