How to Ace the ACT

ACT or American College Testing is a standardized test that helps admissions officers in U.S. colleges assess your academic strengths. The scores help determine your fit for the course of study you choose. Like SAT, your ACT scores can also help you land a scholarship. The four sections – English, Reading, Math and Science – and the composite score between 1 and 36 is what matters.  

You can apply for the ACT test in your junior year and when you do, it is time to start studying. Before you begin preparing, keep a plan in place to stay focused.

ACT Practice Tests: You can find  ACT practice tests online. These tests are useful because you will understand the way the test is structured and the kind of questions that you are expected to tackle. The test results will give you a fair idea of your weak spots that’ll need extra work. You can also check out apps that are a good way to learn anywhere, anytime.

ACT English: A strong foundation in grammar will help you handle questions related to the usage and mechanics of language. There are many resources online that will refresh your memory and give you a chance to practice with a range of exercises. While taking the test, before choosing options, it is necessary to read the entire passage and take a decision on the correctness of a sentence based on the context in which a sentence is presented.

Image Courtesy: Flickr
Image Courtesy: Flickr

ACT Reading: An ability to read quickly and comprehend the main ideas and concepts is necessary. Reading passages will include prose fiction, humanities, natural science and social science. An exposure to reading a wide range of text will work to your advantage.

ACT Math and Science: A quick way to understand, solve and zero in on the right answers in the Math and Science sections is by using the visual representations of the problems that often accompany questions. These graphs and diagrams can come in handy when you are trying to narrow down the logical choices. When in doubt, simply replace a variable in the equation with the choices given to find the correct option.

ACT Essay – Optional: Know the rules of  writing good essays. Most have an introductory paragraph with the thesis statement, three body paragraphs, and a fifth and final concluding paragraph. A well-structured essay with a strong intro and conclusion will work in your favor.

During the test, time management is critical. To manage time, these are a few common techniques:

  • Skim or scan passages for main ideas.
  • Leave the toughies for later.
  • Leave the Science Reasoning section for later as it takes time.
  • Plug in numbers in math instead of trying to solve the problem.
  • Be familiar with the sections, allocated times, and directions.
  • Start with the subject you are most comfortable with in the Reading section.

The good news is ACT mostly tests concepts taught in high school, which you are already familiar with. A few refreshers and practice tests should keep you on course to acing the ACT.