ACT Test Preparation Strategies

Planning on going to college? You will need to take one of the college board tests. The ACT has been the standard college placement test in the Midwestern part of the country. However, the number of students taking this test is expanding. Since almost all colleges accept both the SAT and ACT tests, many students outside of the Midwest are opting for the ACT. If you are thinking about taking the ACT, you will need some basic tips and strategies for approaching the ACT questions. The ACT test has four standard sections. These are English, Math, Reading and Science. There is also an optional writing section which most students take. 

General Tips

1. Practice. Practice. Practice. Use practice tests to make test taking almost habitual.

2. Make sure you are familiar with all the directions before the test. You do not want any surprises on test day.

3. Do not skip questions. There is no penalty for a wrong answer so random guessing can only help.

Tips for the English Section

1. This section is composed of a number of passages that simulate actual student writing. You will be asked to revise underlined parts of the passage and to answer general questions about the overall organization and structure of the passage.

2. Use your ear. If something sounds wrong, it probably is.

3. Be aware of the context of the passage. Sometimes things that seem wrong are correct because of the context. Pay special attention to shifts in verb tense throughout the passage in this regard.

4. After you pick your answer choice, re-read the passage with your choice inserted to make sure it sounds correct.

Tips for the Math Section

1. For math problems with variables, pick some logical values for these variables and substitute these in the problem. For example, if the problem asks about what happens when an odd number and an even number are multiplied, pick one odd and one even number and multiply them. This way you can see whether the result is odd or even.

2. For problems which ask for the solution to an equation, you can plug the answer choices back into the original equation and see which one solves it.

3. Problems are designed to test conceptual knowledge and not computational speed. If you find yourself getting involved in difficult and intricate computations, then you probably missed a key insight. You should backtrack and try to find what you are missing. 

Tips for the Reading Section

1. This section tests your reading comprehension. You will be given a series of passages and asked to answer questions about the content, structure and details of the passage. Passages are fiction and non-fiction based on the social sciences, natural sciences and humanities.

2. Underline key nouns and verbs. You can also write brief summaries of each paragraph in the margins.

3. Try to answer each question on your own before looking at the answer choices. Then you can compare your own answer to the answers provided.

Tips for the Science Section

1. The science section tests your ability to engage in scientific reasoning.

2. The key is to understand the graphs and charts of data. You will not need to fully understand the scientific concepts if you can reason through the results.

3. These passages will often give more information than is needed to answer the question. Try to find this extra information and eliminate it from consideration.

Tips for the Writing Section

1. The prompt is open ended has no right answer. The important thing is to state your key thesis clearly and provide support for this thesis.

2. Make sure you write at least four paragraphs: an introduction, at least two body paragraphs and a conclusion.

3. Your body paragraphs need clear and focused topic sentences that support the thesis of the essay. The sentences of the paragraph should support the topic sentence. 

4. Practice writing these essays often

With some practice and the proper strategies, you can do well on the ACT test. Good Luck!

Larry Lembcke is an educational blogger and fitness consultant. He shares fitness tips and educational material for everyday people. His work has been featured on

Categories: College Life   Tags: ACT test preparation