The ACT exam is a fast-paced, intensive critical reasoning test covering advanced English grammar, critical reading analysis, scientific data interpretation, and mathematics. A good ACT score is an excellent advantage in your college application. Below, we have curated the top tips for succeeding on the ACT.
Preparation is key. For most students, this means private ACT lessons with a reputable and experienced tutor, extensive and diligent study of the requisite material, and frequent ACT testing practice, ideally in simulated test conditions. Given the broad range of subject matter, the length of the test, and the nature of standardized testing, we recommend students prepare for the ACT preparation overseveral months. Consistent preparation reaps better results than cramming.
Here are our top Preparation tips for success on the ACT:
- Revise using a variety of techniques: blend your learning by writing your own notes, creating flash cards, recording yourself reading points, and “teaching” back the topic to a friend or parent. It really does help with retention!
- Sit at least three ACT practice tests before the real test. This helps your body and mind adjust to the length of the exam. It’s especially helpful to sit these under test conditions. A-List Education offers proctored SAT and ACT exams every weekend. Contact our Client Service Team to sign up!
- Complete diligent corrections on all ACT practice tests and timed practice sections! This is the key step to ensure improvement. For each correction, write out what exactly went wrong. Create a list of these errors and look for the pattern. Use these to adjust your strategy for the next practice test.
- Remember PPE! Your test centre may require you to wear a mask and possibly gloves. To prepare for this, ensure you sit a minimum of one full, timed practice test in this PPE. You want to minimise the number of new variables you will face on test day.
During the Test
- Read each question carefully. This sounds obvious but is the number one reason students lose points. For each question, ask yourself, “What is the question telling me? What is the question asking me?”. When you can, note down this information on the paper or tablet provided. For the sections you do not have access to writing implements, make active mental notes.
- Write down your thought process in the maths section. Do NOT try to do calculations in your head: you are much more likely to make errors.
- Do not rush. You should aim for accuracy rather than speed: be prepared to sacrifice several questions in order to spend more time getting all of the other questions correct.
- Skip “black hole” questions. All questions are worth the same amount. Do not spend multiple minutes trying desperately to get the answer to that one monstrous question – move on.
- Do not let tricky questions shake you. You will come up against hard questions that you struggle to answer. That is okay! Take a deep breath and when the next question comes, face it with a clean mental slate.
- Stay focused. The ACT is a long test. If you find your mind drifting, take 10 seconds to re-centre your attention. It is worth taking that time to refresh yourself mentally as it will aid your accuracy.
- Move around on breaks. When you get a break, make sure you get up, stretch and eat something. This will het the blood flowing back to your brain and help you concentrate better for the next section.
It is possible for all students to excel on the ACT. If you would like to hear more about how A-List’s experienced tutors can help you earn a great score, our Academic Team would be happy to have a free consultation with you.
This autumn is filled with opportunities to take the SAT test (September, October, November and December). One of the best ways to prepare is to take regular full-length, timed SAT practice tests in the weeks and months your exam date.
Full-length Practice Tests are a Savvy Investment:s
- Build your stamina: the SAT is not only about content and strategy but also about mental and physical stamina. It is crucial to sit at least 2 full-length SAT mock tests before the real exam to adjust to the extended time period and to practice maintaining your diligence for every question.
- Try out your strategies: you do NOT want to experiment on test day. Instead, you want to have developed a systematic approach for each section.
- Pacing: linked to stamina and strategy, you want to have worked out how you will spend the allotted time in each section.
Practice Test Scheduling:
A-List Education provides the most recent SAT practice test papers, unavailable to the general public, to our clients. In the autumn, we will have practice tests every weekend.
How Should I Take the Practice Tests:
In order to maximize the benefit of taking the tests, we recommend recreating exam conditions as much as possible.
- Find a neutral, unfamiliar, quiet space to work in. Do not take the test in your bedroom or family room. Libraries, offices, an empty school classroom, or even a room in the house where you don’t spent a lot of time re ideal.
- Come prepared. Sit down to the SAT mock test with the test paper and bubble sheet printed out so you can practice annotating key words and filling in the bubbles along with your pencil, rubber, calculator, water bottle and snacks for the break.
- Have someone else keep time for you. Not having control over timing makes a huge difference psychologically, and you want to get used to that in advance.
Next Step After the Practice Test:
Every SAT practice test has three life cycles: 1) use as a timed test or timed section 2) use for diligent corrections and active reflection 3) use as a primary source for studying test design.
So now you have done the test and marked it, go through each incorrect answer and carefully redo them. You want to analyse exactly where in the answering process you went awry, then correct it. Keep note of the reasons for each correction and study what trends emerge over the course of the exam. From these trends, reevaluate your strategy for the next SAT practice test. This might include deciding to deliberately answer slightly fewer questions to increase your accuracy or alternating the order in which you answer question types or passages.
Once you have made diligent corrections and used them to reflect upon your performance, you can turn back to the practice test. Now we want to study the design of the test itself. Comparing multiple SAT papers, you will start to notice strong trends emerging in terms of question types, question order and phrasing design. Acquaint yourself with these trends: interrogate them. The more familiar you are with the design of the SAT, the more targeted you can make your strategy and the more prepared you will be for the test that you sit on exam day.
If you would like to take a full-length practice test, please reach out to A-List! We are happy to schedule one for you!