Taking the ACT tomorrow and haven’t studied at all?

Or do you just want to know the most important things to brush up on before the big day? This article will tell you what to study in the day or so before you take the ACT. If you’re looking for last-minute ACT study tips, look no further. Let’s take a look at the most important advice to keep in mind for each of the four tests on the ACT: English, Math, Reading, and Science. (Remember, there’s much more to study than these things, but these will give you the most bang for your buck.) Without further ado…

What to Study for the ACT English Test

If you’re taking the ACT tomorrow and only have a day or so to study for it, take advantage of how EASY the ACT English CAN be if you’re willing to learn the rules and conventions of English grammar! You should know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, what ALL of the punctuation marks in the English language mean and are used for. Do you know how to use a semicolon? A colon? A period? A dash? An apostrophe? Learning, reviewing, and testing yourself on punctuation is vital for last-minute ACT English studying. So if you’re going to cram for the ACT English test, you’d better crack open a trusty grammar book, such as The Elements of Style or check out one of our many blog articles about the ACT English test.

But punctuation’s not all you’ll need in order to master the ACT English test, especially if you only have one day to cram for it. You’ll also need a working knowledge of English grammar! That means you need to understand what makes a sentence, the difference between an independent and a dependent clause, the names and functions of all the verb tense, how to answer subject-verb agreement questions, how to avoid and correct dangling or misplaced modifiers, and so much more. It may seem daunting to you, but if you train yourself to recognize grammatical errors, you will LEAP ahead in terms of your ACT English score, and those gains can go a long way toward lifting up your composite ACT score.

Last-Minute ACT Math Study Tips

Maybe you’ve procrastinated on ACT math and are wondering what topics and types of problems to study before the big day. In all my years as a tutor, one of the most common mistakes I see students make is to focus TOO MUCH on the HARDEST problems and NEGLECT the easy and medium problems and the topics and concepts that are required to solve them quickly and confidently. Most students don’t want to admit that they need to review Pre-Algebra and basic Algebra and Geometry, but I see this all the time. Students will want to work the hardest questions with me but then miss questions in the first half of the test due to a failure to review the FUNDAMENTALS. Recognize that the FUNDAMENTALS are what unlock the answers to harder problems. Hard problems just require you to do MORE basic tasks and SYNTHESIZE knowledge across disciplines.

Once you’ve reviewed the basics of Pre-Algebra and basic Algebra and Geometry, as well as STUDIED and MEMORIZED a FORMULA CHART, you’re ready to do a timed practice test. Star ANY problem you missed, guessed on, or hesitated on, and make a conscious effort to re-enter the problem and master it. Be sure you’ll be able to recognize it from a MILE away when it comes on the day of your ACT Math test. If you’ve got a solid and PROVEN mastery of the foundations and basics of math, test your math mettle with the hardest possible ACT math problems. Remember, though, even the SMARTEST students are NOT IMMUNE to missing easy and medium problems. Please review.

How to Prep for the ACT Reading in Just One Day

I’ll admit, the ACT Reading section can be a bit daunting to students, particularly those who are slow readers. If you aim to finish the entire ACT Reading test, you have approximately 8 minutes and 45 sections to read and complete each 10-question passage. That’s a tall order. The first step on mastering the ACT Reading section is to know your reading strength and speed. Remember that ACCURACY is always better than speed. A student who can do three passages perfectly is going to score higher than a student who completes the entire test with only 70 percent accuracy. So please, make sure you’re getting correct answers. The good news is that for ACT Reading, the ANSWERS are IN the passage–in most cases, word for word.

If you’re looking to make some quick ACT Reading improvements, do TIMED ACT Reading drills where you forced yourself to answer all the questions in 8 minutes and 45 sections. See how you do. Then do some where you allow yourself 11 minutes and 30 seconds and compare the scores you’d get at these two paces. Decide which pace is the best one for you. Practice skimming and scanning, searching for key words in different passages, and decide in advance what passage you might skip or save for last if you anticipate running out of time. Most people’s biggest mistake in the Reading section is reading too slowly. Treat the Reading test as a scavenger hunt for the answers. If you learn how to quickly navigate a test and pick up ACCURATE facts and make REASONABLE inferences, you’ll do well. This one’s hard to “cram” for, but you can at LEAST do some drills to sharpen your mind.

Last-Minute ACT Science Prep Tips

What about the ACT Science test? Do you only have a day left to prep for the ACT, and have you procrastinated on practicing the ACT Science test? Here the last-minute prep tips that might give you a fighting chance on test day.

First of all, do NOT let yourself be intimidated by the Science section. There is a LOT going on with it. Charts, graphs, tables, science-jargon-laden paragraphs of test, different scientists’ perspectives, and so on. If you obsess over trying to read and understand every little thing the Science test throws at you, you might run out of time, as the Science test is only 35 minutes, and those minutes pass quickly.

To prep for the ACT Science test with only a day at your disposal, you’re going to want to practice READING the question, UNDERSTANDING exactly what the question is asking, determining the KEYWORDS of the question that tell you WHERE TO LOOK for the answer and WHAT TO LOOK AT when determining your answer. Even the longest questions can be broken down into manageable tasks. Then PRACTICE READING AND INTERPRETING CHARTS AND GRAPHS. The Science test is mostly a Reading test filled with charts and graphs, and who knows, those charts and graphs just MAY try to trick you. Don’t worry about studying actual Science concepts and tasks–it’s highly unlikely you’ll be asked about them. If you are, chances are it will be something basic. Again, practice working backward from the question. Time yourself taking a Science test. The same thing is true for the Science that’s true for the Reading–accuracy is so much more important than speed. If you are badly running out of time on the Science test, consider only answering the first 4 questions on each passage (of approximately 6)–the last two are the hardest ones, anyway.

* * *

That’s it! For more SAT and ACT prep tips, check out the rest of our blog. Looking for 1-on-1 ACT or SAT prep tutoring to help you with the college application process? Want to join an SAT or ACT group class? Contact us today!  We’re perfect-scoring tutors with years of experience helping students achieve the SAT and ACT scores they need to make their dreams a reality!

Share This