Getting into college is a big deal. That’s why learning how to study for the ACT is so important. You must pass standardized college testing with flying colors. The main tests are the SAT and ACT.
Out of the two, let’s look a little closer at the ACT. How do you more effectively study for the official ACT exam? Getting ready for test day can be extremely stressful, so it’s a great idea to get some background on the official ACT.
What is the ACT?
If you’ve been gearing up for college after high school, chances are good the SAT and ACT are on your radar. Before we get into some ACT methods to improve your test scores, let’s explore some background.
The ACT is an aptitude test for those who want to gain admission to higher education. Originally developed as a counterpart to the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), the ACT has become a staple in standardized testing for high school students.
There are five main sections to the official ACT. Let’s look at each section and what they test you for.
ACT Science Section
40 multiple-choice questions
This ACT section covers natural science, experimental analysis, and a conflicting viewpoints passage. You will examine multiple charts, tables, and graphs to analyze data and answer questions.
ACT Math Section
60 multiple-choice questions
81% of participants stated they felt more confident about their tech job prospects after attending a bootcamp. Get matched to a bootcamp today.
The average bootcamp grad spent less than six months in career transition, from starting a bootcamp to finding their first job.
The ACT math section goes over many different subsets of mathematics. Geometry, trigonometry, and various levels of algebra make up the math section.
ACT Reading Comprehension
40 multiple-choice questions
These questions directly tie into some reading passages that determine critical thinking skills, what words mean in context, and cause and effect relationships.
ACT English Section
75 multiple-choice questions
ACT Writing Test
1 writing prompt
The ACT’s optional writing section allows you 40 minutes to write about a particular issue or position. There’s no correct answer here, as it’s a gauge of how you can formulate thoughts and communicate them via writing.
- Career Karma matches you with top tech bootcamps
- Get exclusive scholarships and prep courses
The ACT score ranges from 1 to 36. Instead of using letter grades, the ACT uses percentiles to grade student performance. This means that if you score a 30 on the English portion, you rank higher than 90 percent of all test takers.
Is There a Difference Between the SAT and ACT?
The main difference between the SAT and ACT is that the ACT contains a science section, which is omitted from the SAT. Which one you take is up to you. You may feel like you can perform better on the ACT than the SAT, or vice versa.
Besides that, both tests are legitimate ways of proving that you have what it takes to make it at a university or college.
How to Prepare for ACT Test Day
Everyone studies in their own way. Whatever your study method, you must take the official ACT seriously. Your score reflects how well you can take different studying techniques and apply them to ACT testing.
Let’s look at how to study for the ACT.
ACT Practice Tests
These are extremely useful for those who may not be familiar with standardized testing and need visual references.
ACT practice tests are also fantastic resources on how to answer questions. Standardized tests like the SAT and ACT are divided into different sections that test for knowledge of literature, algebra, rhetoric, natural sciences, probability, and statistics.
You can find a ton of ACT practice tests online, which will break down each section of the test and give you a clearer picture of the questions you will face.
Read, Read, Read
Along with ACT practice tests, you need to be continually reading up on the material. It would be best if you ease your brain into ACT testing mode. That means you need to utilize every resource you have at your fingertips: ACT prep books, online videos, and other written material.
Regardless if you choose to use ACT practice tests, you should always be reading and taking in pertinent knowledge.
"Career Karma entered my life when I needed it most and quickly helped me match with a bootcamp. Two months after graduating, I found my dream job that aligned with my values and goals in life!"
Venus, Software Engineer at Rockbot
Get Everything Else Together
You could have a genius-level intellect regarding all of these subjects, but it can be an exercise in futility if you don’t prepare in other ways. You need to take care of your basics: get adequate sleep and make sure you get to the test center on time.
Along with the more obvious checklist, make sure you choose a test date with a lot of wiggle room. You need to leave enough time to retake the exam if your test scores are unsatisfactory. Sorting out your ideal scores is especially essential before you apply to school.
Review Incorrect Answers
If you already took the ACT before and want to improve your scores, you already have some concrete test prep in the form of raw experience. Although you may not have scored as highly as you wanted, you now know what the test consists of and how it’s structured.
Now is the time to backtrack and see what you got wrong, why you got it wrong, and how you can improve.
Remember to Breathe
Keep in mind that this is just a test. It doesn’t make or break you or your school career. While it does help your school journey, it doesn’t define you or your intelligence. There are plenty of dates to retake the test and improve scores, so don’t feel that not scoring well the first time is the end of the world.
The Best ACT Resources
Now that you have a few tips to get you started, it’s time to take advantage of what the Internet has to offer. Below are some of the best ACT testing resources you can use right now to give you a better advantage on test day.
ACT Test Prep: Example Questions
ACT English Section Questions
ACT Science Section Questions
ACT Reading Section Questions
ACT Math Section Questions
What better way to get ready for the big exam then to see example questions to train your brain? This is one of the best ways to crush it on test day.
The test prep for the ACT math section, for example, contains five distinct sections for you to practice with. You will get word problems as well as equations, both simple and complex.
Questions provided cover a wide swath of what you’ll experience on the official ACT. They even give some great tips on the optional writing test.
The Princeton Review has a sterling reputation for test prep for the GED, PSAT, GRE, SAT, and ACT. The Princeton Review offers curious high school students the opportunity to enroll in various test prep outlets like informative events and practice tests.
Some events offered by The Princeton Review emphasize different aspects of the college experience and seminars dealing with career advice.
The majority of the services provided by The Princeton Review are entirely free. All you need to do is enroll in the service or event of your choice.
One of the ‘big three’ educational publishers in the industry, McGraw-Hill lays it all out on the line with their comprehensive practice tests and video tutorials.
During their web test, they will offer various questions modeled off of the official ACT and explanations to help you comprehend more difficult questions.
McGraw-Hill offers step-by-step strategies for each ACT section in video form if you seek more help besides their proactive test. These videos break down further, specific aspects of the particular section, like vocabulary and grammar.
Varsity Tutors offer high school students the chance for some valuable one-on-one time with test-taking experts. Tutors in nearly every major city cover multiple subjects.
Along with one-on-one help, Varsity Tutors offers many practice tests covering well over 80 popular subjects on the official ACT.
Hopefully, the official ACT doesn’t seem as daunting as it did before. If you make sure you follow our study tips, you will be more than ready to tackle any piece of standardized testing.
All you have to do now is show up at the test center and show your future university what you’ve got.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.