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).

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