Is the ACT a source of anxiety and frustration?
Likely it is. For you and for thousands of other high school students just like you. That one number is central to the college admissions process, and everyone wants to know what you got.
I’ve never met a high school student who didn’t wish they had a higher score (obviously, I’ve never met one with a perfect score!), but what’s the secret?
Cross your fingers? Wish on a star? Pixie dust? Nah.
Actually, there are some really simple strategies that can help boost your score. The ACT is a predictable test. They use the same kinds of passages and problems, and the same kinds of questions and answers every time.
Knowing what to expect can help you to be strategic in your approach to your next ACT. Chances are good that these strategies will be more helpful than just crossing your fingers.
What’s the secret?
Here’s the cool thing… There is no secret.
We like to call them “Super Savvy Strategies” – and every can use them! Check them out below. Share them with friends, post them online, whatever your heart desires.
Just be sure to use them!!
1. Strategy, Strategy, Strategy!
- Be confident in knowing that strategy can help you in every section.
- Train yourself to look at the test strategically, and your score will improve!
2. Underline, circle, checkmark – whatever.
- Draw lines through incorrect answers. Mark reading passages. Circle questions to come back to. Underline important parts of questions.
- I like to call this “thinking with your pen”. You should be writing all over your test booklet as you go!
3. Pick a letter. Any letter!
- Choose a letter and stick with it for the whole test (A/F or B/G, for example).
- Don’t jump around.
4. Eliminate wrong answers.
- Sometimes you can SEE the wrong answers on your own. Cross them out in the test booklet.
- Learn specific strategies to help you spot the typical wrong answers on each subtest.
- Every answer choice you eliminate increases your chances of finding the right choice.
5. Remember the golden rule: There is only one completely correct answer!
- Seems obvious…but you’ll be surprised.
- If an answer is even partly wrong, or slightly wrong, it’s wrong.
- If two answers are the essentially the same, they’re both wrong.
6. Skip questions that take too long. Move on.
- Some reading passages are complex. Some math concepts you won’t know.
- Save the questions or passages that will be most time consuming until the end.
7. Answer questions in the order you decide.
- Who says you have to answer questions in order? No one! Do the easy stuff first.
- If a question or passage (especially on the Reading or Science tests) is too complicated, skip it and come back to it.
- Use your time where you are strong and have the best likelihood of getting items right.
8. Value your time.
- Get a watch. Borrow a watch. Test it out. Make sure it doesn’t make noise. USE IT on test day!!
- Set the watch to 12 o’clock at the beginning of each test, so you can easily see how far you are into a testing period.
9. Verify your item number before bubbling in the answer.
- This is exceptionally important if you are answering questions in YOUR order.
10. You need to answer every question before time runs out.
- Don’t leave any questions unanswered! Even a guess has the chance to earn credit.
- You don’t “lose” any more credit for a wrong answer than for a blank. Take a guess!
- If you can eliminate some answer choices, take an educated guess among the remaining answers.
- If you have no idea, see #3 above. (Stick to the same letter for every guess.)
That’s it! You got this!