Know the facts:
The ACT® is made up of four sections and 215 questions in all and needs to be completed in 2 hours and 55 minutes. The sections that make up the ACT along with the number of questions and time to complete the test are listed below.
- English - 75 questions in 45 minutes
- Mathematics - 60 questions in 1 hour
- Reading - 30 questions in 35 minutes
- Science - 30 questions in 35 minutes
While there are more questions on the ACT than on the SAT, you are given less time to complete each question so knowing the content being tested in and the types of questions is important.
The concepts tested on the ACT are taught in middle and high schools across America so it should be easy to develop a plan to improve your score on the ACT when compared to the SAT which is an aptitute test.
Know the strategies:
There are no negative points for incorrect answer on the ACT. One of the first strategies that students should deploy on the ACT is to answer all questions. Students should know to pace themselves so they don’t run out of time e.g., English section has five passages so each passage needs to be completed in nine minutes or less.
The science section of the ACT has data representation and graph based questions. It is highly unlikely that students will be familiar with the topic being tested and should not attempt to study the topic during the test rather they should read the questions to get an understanding of what is being asked.
Many of the techniques are readily listed in most ACT prep books from Kaplan, McGraw Hill, Barron’s, Peterson’s etc. For these techniques to be effective you will need to to master the content being tested.
What will truly help are the following
- An understanding of one’s strength and weakness within each section of the ACT e.g. Knowing that errors on “Punctuation” questions accounted for 30% of all errors in the English section of the ACT
- Based on one’s current score setting a goal
- A roadmap of how to get to the goal which specifically calls out the content areas that need improvement e.g. In Mathematics improvement if the student is able to eliminate half the errors in “Pre-Algebra” questions the students score will improve by one composite point
- Finally, a cost effective solution that includes video and test prep materials should not involve spending thousands of dollars and several hundred hours of preparation