Monday, June 15, 2009

ACT Test Day Techniques:

1. Be Equipped
On the night before the test you should gather everything you'll need: the admission ticket, a valid form of photo identification, several #2 pencils, a watch, and a high-energy snack.
2. Don't Cram
You've worked hard. The best thing to do the evening before the test is to get a good night's sleep. You've covered the content and you've perfected the skills. Now it's time to get in test mode -- calm, rested, confident, and ready.
3. Dress in Layers
The climate in test centers can vary from sauna-like to frigid. Be prepared for both extremes and everything in-between. You need to be comfortable to do your best.
4. Arrive Early
You may want to scope out your test location before test day to ensure that you know where you're going. Getting to the test should be the least of your concerns.
5. Don't Spend too Much Time on One Question
Each question is worth the same number of points. If a question is confusing or too time-consuming, don't lose your cool. Instead, move on to greener pastures. You can come back to hard questions if you have time at the end of a section.
6. Don't Look for Unscored Questions/Sections
Sometimes the ACT contains experimental questions that are scattered throughout the sections. Do your best on every question--that way, you're covered.
7. Keep Track of Where You Are in a Section
8. Guess Aggressively
If you don't know an answer, don't leave the question blank or guess randomly. Eliminate the choices you know are wrong, then make an educated guess from the remaining options. On the ACT, students aren't penalized for guessing. Only the correct answers count toward the score, so it is better to guess than leave a blank.
9. Be Careful Filling in the Answer Grid
Make sure you're filling in answers next to the right numbers.
10. Relax
Your attitude and outlook are crucial to your test-day performance. Be confident.

ACT Test-Taking Strategies

These tips should only be used as an adjunct mechanism for preparing to take the ACT and obtain the best possible score. Students should also study vocabulary words, as well as the fundamentals of arithmetic, algebra and geometry.

1. Learn the section directions now. Use the time saved during the test to work on questions.
2. Answer easy questions first. Mark skipped questions in your exam book so you can quickly return to them later.
3. Guess...if you can eliminate at least one choice.
4. You can write in the test book: cross out wrong answers; do scratch work.
5. Avoid stray marks on the answer sheet. A machine scores your test and can't distinguish between a correct answer and a careless doodle.
6. Easy questions usually precede hard ones.
7. Mark only one answer per question.
8. Skip any question if you haven't the faintest idea about the answer. You don't lose points.
9. Understand the scoring! You get a point for a right answer. There is no deduction for omitted answers or for wrong answers. However, filling in each question with even a guess is better than leaving the answer grid blank.
10. Keep checking that you are placing your answer in the correct section and number on the answer sheet.
11. Don't spend too much time on any one question. You should spend only seconds on the easiest questions, and hesitate to spend more than 1-2 minutes on even the hardest ones.
12. Practice, practice, practice!
13. Remember that the ACT consists of a series of small, timed, mini-tests. Keep track of the time you're allotted for each one and how much time remains.
14. Bring a watch to the test center. You can't be guaranteed that there'll be a working clock there.
15. Don't change an answer unless you're sure you made an error.
16. Read the words in the question carefully. Be sure to answer the question asked and not the question you recall from a practice test.
17. Know the Question Types to Expect on the ACT: * 19 analogies * 19 sentence completion * 40 reading comprehension * 35 math multiple-choices * 15 quantitative comparisons * 10 student-produced responses

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

ACT Specific Sectional Strategies

English, Reading, and Science Reasoning Sections:

  1. Review English grammar and usage, as well as punctuation, parts of speech, sentence structure, and word parts.
  2. Don't rush your selection. Consider all the answers to make the best choice.
  3. Use the context of nearby words to figure out unknown words.
  4. Pace yourself. You have roughly (actually slightly less than) 1/2 minute for each question.
  5. Examine each underlined portion with care.
    It will suggest what is being sought from you by its context in the passage that the question refers to.
  6. Choose the best answer possible, using the process of elimination to narrow your choices.
  7. After you've made your choice, mentally substitute your answer into the underlined portion to see if it seems correct.
  8. If you don't know the meaning a word, try to recall if you've ever heard it in an expression.
    The context of the expression may suggest the meaning of the word.
  9. Beware of obvious answers! They may be there only to mislead you.
  10. You should base your answers to the questions solely on what is stated or implied in the passages.
  11. Carefully read any introductory text.
  12. Skip questions you don't know. Return to them after answering other easier questions.
  13. First and last sentences of each paragraph are critical.
  14. Read the passages before reading the questions.
  15. Don't waste time memorizing details.


  1. Read the question well. Be sure to select the best answer for the variable, value, or expression that is requested!
  2. Learn in advance all of the critical definitions, formulas, and concepts that appear in common questions.
  3. Remember to use the test booklet for scratch work, as well as for marking up any diagrams/graphs.
  4. Early questions in this section are easier. Spend less time on them.
  5. Don't get carried away with detailed calculations. Look for a trick or a shortcut if the question seems time consuming.
  6. When a question contains a weird symbol, just substitute the accompanying definition when figuring out the best answer choice.


  1. Don't ever guess at Choice E. There are only four choices!
  2. Always consider values that are fractional (between 0 and 1), zero, negative, or non-integer.
  3. Factor out, then cancel, any common expressions or quantities in both Columns A and B. Remember that you are just trying to make relative comparisons.
  4. Questions are simpler and should take less time than the Standard Multiple Choice. Look closely. The answer is often apparent without any calculations.
  5. Write on any diagrams to help clarify any values, angles, sides, etc.
  6. Compare; don't solve!
  7. Simplify one or both sides whenever possible before comparing.

Tips for the ACT Writing Test

•Carefully read the instructions on the cover of the test booklet.
•Do some planning before writing the essay; you will be instructed to do your prewriting in your Writing Test booklet. You can refer to these notes as you write the essay on the lined pages in your answer folder.
•Do not skip lines and do not write in the margins.
•Write your essay legibly.
◦Carefully consider the question asked and make sure you understand it—reread it if you aren't sure.
◦Decide how you want to answer the question in the prompt.
◦Then jot down your ideas on the topic: this might simply be a list of ideas, reasons, and examples that you will use to explain your point of view on the issue.
◦Write down what you think others might say in opposition to your point of view and think about how you would respond to their arguments.
◦Think of how best to organize the ideas in your essay.
•At the beginning of your essay, make sure readers can tell that you understand the issue.
•Explain your point of view in a clear and logical way.
•If possible, discuss the issue in a broader context or evaluate the implications or complications of the issue.
•Address what others might say in argument of your point of view and present a counter-argument.
•Use specific examples.
•Vary the structure of your sentences, and use varied and precise word choices.
•Make logical relationships clear by using transitional words and phrases.
•Do not move away from the topic.
•End with a strong conclusion that summarizes or reinforces your position.
•If there is time, do a final check of the essay when it is finished.
◦Correct any mistakes in grammar, usage, punctuation, and spelling.
◦If you find any words that are hard to read, recopy them so your readers can read them easily.
◦Make any corrections and revisions neatly, between the lines (but not in the margins).