5 Tips for Better ACT Test Prep
Have you ever known SO MUCH about something that it seems impossible to boil it down into just a few words?
So, it was challenging to reduce things to just five simple tips. But, I put a lot of time and thought into it. These are my five top tips for effective ACT test prep.
1) Start with the Official ACT Book.
I knew that any ACT test prep recommendations I made should start at the beginning - with the official ACT practice materials.
Every ACT test prep student should get their hands on the Official ACT Guide. Do as many practice questions as possible. Go over mistakes and correct them using the answers at the back of the book.
Part of the reason for my perfect ACT score and high confidence is all the hours of practice I’ve spent in this book. There’s not a single question or reading passage that I haven’t done a dozen times or more. Practice makes perfect, after all!
You want to work with the official ACT test prep materials first, instead of going for copycat materials made by external companies. (Although these copycat materials can still be useful in some circumstances).
If there’s absolutely nothing else you do for your ACT test prep, get your hands on the Official ACT Guide. At least glance through the sections of this book to see what the ACT test is all about.
2) Free-Read as Much “Quality” Content as Possible.
With each of these tips, I was trying to get any ACT test prep student “the most bang for their buck.” So, each tip is carefully chosen to help you the most with your academic goals.
Efficient ACT Test Prep Tip #2 is one of my favorites: free-read as much quality content as possible. (Check out some of our recommended reading lists to help with ACT prep!)
“Quality reading content” should be two things: 1) Interesting and 2) Challenging.
“Interesting” means: Something you want to pick up and read after school, even if you’re tired.
“Challenging” means: You have to work a little bit to understand what the author is saying. This might mean slow, careful reading, or it might mean that you have to look up vocabulary and make flashcards as you go.
Free-reading has so many benefits that I can’t possibly list them all - but I’m going to try.
Personal free-reading will improve your…
- Reading Speed and Confidence
- Reading Comprehension
- Grammar Skills
- Writing Skills
- Focus and Concentration
- Personal Enrichment
- College Readiness
- ACT and SAT Readiness
- Business and Career Success
Some benefits of free-reading are *directly* targeted at your ACT test prep. Other benefits help your high school and college academics.
Best of all, free-reading is also a personal enrichment activity. It helps you fill your life with adventure, new lessons, and real-world education. Reading can help you discover your top reasons for being alive!
3) Pay Attention to the Rules of Grammar.
The rules of grammar and proper English are doubly important on the ACT test.
You’ll need a strong grasp of fundamental grammar rules for the ACT English section. It’s one of the biggest sections of the whole test (75 questions!)
Also, your ACT Essay, the final section of the test, will be graded partially on the basis of your grammar and English usage.
So, try to learn these fundamental rules when you cover them in school English class. It saves time, and prevents the trouble of having to learn the rules of English just to get a good ACT score.
You can also improve your grasp of grammar through personal free-reading. Other good content - even video content - can also help you develop an ear for good grammar (news videos, radio shows, podcasts, etc),
Luckily, there’s a life payoff as well – strong grammar skills make you sound smarter and make you a better communicator.
4) Find a Great ACT Tutor or ACT Test Prep Class.
I’m someone who believes the best way to learn something is to teach yourself.
Just like you don’t require a coach to have a personal fitness routine, you don’t require an ACT tutor to study for the ACT test.
However, most high school students face one of several problems:
- They don’t know where to start ACT test prep on their own.
- No one is holding them accountable for progress.
- They can’t figure out the hardest ACT test questions on their own.
- They aren’t sure how to measure their progress on ACT prep.
- Students feel anxious about the ACT test.
Luckily, there’s an entire ACT test prep tutoring industry that has existed for decades to help teens overcome these problems. Find a fun and friendly ACT tutor that makes you feel more confident… and also includes practice-testing, diagnostics, and record-keeping on your progress.
Whether you go with an ACT test prep class or 1-on-1 ACT tutoring, you should not be satisfied with a mediocre instructor. Seek out a smart, fun, and experienced ACT prep teacher who makes you feel comfortable and confident.
Again, this step is optional. But keep in mind, to get into many good colleges, you’ll be competing with other students and families who do find an ACT tutor. The competition is investing time and money into advanced ACT test prep, trust me - I’m probably teaching some of them.
I recommend a *mix* of study with an ACT class or tutor and independent personal study. Once you’ve taken a series of lessons with an ACT tutor or ACT class, you should have a much better idea how you can study on your own.
5) Do Your Homework on ACT Math and Science.
Some sections of the ACT are more challenging than others.
The English, Reading, and Essay sections of the ACT test are least challenging, and the most “predictable.”
These three test sections mostly fit with what you’ve already been doing in school. The rules of grammar don’t change, and if you’re a good reader, then you’re a good reader!
Furthermore, the ACT Essay is a relatively simple writing assignment that shouldn’t present any major challenges - as long as you’ve been working hard in English class.
No matter how well you’ve performed in high school Math and Science classes, the ACT Math and Science sections will still put you to the test.
Although the content is similar to what you’ve already studied (Algebra, Geometry, Biology, Chemistry, etc), the style of the ACT Math and Science sections can make familiar concepts seem challenging or unfamiliar.
I say again - the underlying concepts of the ACT Science and Math will be familiar, but the style will confuse you.
So, of all the ACT sections to study and practice on your own, the Science and Math stand out. Be sure to commit extra personal time to studying and practicing these two sections before your official ACT test.
Be Prepared for ACT Test Day.
There’s much more I could say (and have said) about ACT test prep.
But, if you work on free reading and grammar skills as I’ve suggested, then your ACT verbal scores will be on-track.
And, if you get the ACT book and spend time practicing and correcting your mistakes, you’ll be relatively prepared for the real test.
There’s no reason to fear the ACT test - as long as you take action to be ready.
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