Eight Important Test-Taking Strategies for the ACT® Exam

High school student attending ACT test
Learn about ACT test taking strategies to improve your performance on the ACT exam. You can find study tools and test-taking tips in this article.
High school student attending ACT test
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If you are looking for some simple ways to improve your ACT® test-taking strategies before exam, you should consider these tips!

1. Gain Experience With the Exam 

The best way to prepare for the ACT exam is through experience. Be sure that you dedicate plenty of time throughout your studies and preparation with experience that is realistic to the exam itself. You can find practice tests that are reliable through UWorld’s ACT Prep Course. Our exams and practice problems are realistic to the level of difficulty that you will face on the official ACT exam. 

By getting familiar with the test, you can be sure that you are prepared for any question type. Taking plenty of practice tests will also allow you to pinpoint your weak areas and dedicate time to improving them before sitting for the official test. Be sure that you are confident on the official exam day by getting plenty of experience with the exam. 

2. Find Your Weak Points and Practice Them

As mentioned above, finding your weak points is a valuable tool for improving your ACT score and building your study plan prior to sitting for the official exam. You can take advantage of UWorld’s ACT Prep Course, which offers performance tracking tools to provide valuable data about your score. Evaluating this scoring data is a great way to streamline your study plan and prioritize your time in preparation for the exam. 

You can take practice exams through the prep course and find any questions, subsections, and sections you consistently falter with. Before the official ACT exam, it is also important to identify skills you are unfamiliar with. Set time aside to practice these skills until you are confident of them.

Everyone has weak points throughout the test, and there is a chance that you have not been exposed to some of the skills assessed by the ACT. You can carry the knowledge gained by your score report into the official ACT exam. If you come across a question that you know you have faltered with in the past, spend some extra time on it and be sure that you are not making any silly mistakes.

3. Get Comfortable With the Types of Graphs You Will Work With on the ACT Exam

The ACT exam is notorious for having unconventional graphs. Do not walk into the exam blindly. Instead, spend some time evaluating the types of graphs you are likely to find on the exam. If you encounter a graph that is immediately confusing or overwhelming to read, spend time dissecting its details. 

What do the axes say? Is there a legend? What are the units of measurement? Can you decipher any relationships between the graph and a passage that it accompanies? These details can help when deciphering the bigger picture.

4. If You Run Out of Time or Do Not Know the Answer, Make a Guess

An important detail to know about the ACT scoring system is that you are not penalized for guessing. Because of this, you shouldn’t leave any bubbles on your answer sheet blank. If you do not know an answer or if you run out of time at the end of one of the sections, do your best to fill in an answer for each question.

5. Manage Your Time Properly Throughout the Exam

It is important that you pay attention to your timing throughout the ACT exam. While preparing for the exam, be sure that you pay attention to any trends in your ability to finish on time. For example, if you know that you are slower in the Math exam than other sections, you should spend time improving your time management in that section before you sit to take the official ACT exam.

6. Skip the Questions That Require Too Much Time

Pay attention to any questions that are taking up too much of your time on the ACT exam. You must do your best to answer as many questions as possible in the stipulated time. If you spend ten minutes on one problem, you are wasting time you could have spent on ten questions! As soon as you recognize that a problem is going to take up a significant amount of time, mark it and come back to later. You can always work on it at the end with any time leftover.

7. Check Your Work

If you finish one of the test sections before time has run out, you can use this spare time to go over your answers and double-check them for accuracy. As you work, you can also strategize by marking questions you are unsure of or had to guess on. If you have time at the end of the section, you can come back to these questions first. Checking your work can make a big difference in your score!

8. Come Prepared on Exam Day

Be prepared on exam day! You should arrive well-rested and confident that you have worked hard to prepare for the ACT exam. It is also a good idea to eat a healthy breakfast and get to the testing center early to avoid missing the start time. It would be advisable to arrive 20 to 30 minutes prior to sign in and get settled. It is also important that you show up on your official exam day with all of the material you need. This includes a calculator, your photo ID card, a pencil (or two), and your test ticket. 

You can practice these ACT test-taking strategies and tips using UWorld’s ACT Prep Course. Our online prep course offers thousands of sample questions, performance tracking tools, and detailed answer explanations. You can use these resources to study and practice for the official exam day. 

Before you take the exam, ensure that you have plenty of experience with the test, practice your weak points, and study the graphs you will encounter on the ACT exam. You also must understand the scoring process, manage your time, check your work, and arrive prepared on your official test day! You don’t have to create a study plan alone. Use UWorld’s ACT Prep Course, and ensure that you reach your full scoring potential. Try it out!

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