Maybe you’re a junior, or maybe you’re a senior. Maybe this is your first time taking the test, or maybe it’s your fifth. Maybe you’re a great test-taker, or maybe you’re a terrible one. Regardless of where you stand, everyone could use some extra advice to help get through the ACT’s.

Taking Care of Your Body

Take it easy

In the days leading up to the test, be sure to not do anything too strenuous. This is not to say that you should stray from your typical activity routine -- in fact, it’s important to stay active and healthy. However, doing anything that will cause fatigue or soreness is not suggested, as the exhaustion will detract from your focus on the paper in front of you.

Go to sleep early

Rest is of utmost importance, as it gives both your body and mind an opportunity to shut down and recharge so you can be at peak performance the next morning. Know when you have to be awake by, and plan your bedtime accordingly. Remember: You need at least eight hours of sleep to function at your highest level.

Bring snacks and water

During the test, you will have an allotted ten minutes to eat, drink, or use the bathroom. Taking this time to eat WILL make a difference, and provide the necessary boost to keep you going. Pack a water bottle as well as a nutritious snack (I personally recommend Cliff Bars -- they taste good and are a great source of protein).

Mental Preparation

Study

There are a variety of online tools to help you prepare; in addition, the makers of the ACT have published an official test prep guide, titled “The Real ACT Prep Guide”. DO NOT put off studying until the night before -- create a study schedule to adhere to so you can consistently practice, and focus on areas that you find challenging.

Think positive

It sounds silly, but it’s true. You can’t do well if you don’t believe you will, so be confident and repeat some positive affirmations to yourself.

Don’t stress

I know there’s a lot of pressure on you to do well, but please don’t let it get to you. Take deep breaths, remind yourself that it’s gonna be OK, and don’t overthink it too much. You’re going to ace it.

During the Test

Pace yourself

It’s easy to lose track of time during the test, so be aware of how many minutes you have left. It helps to designate a certain amount of time for each page, so you can assure that you will not surpass the time limit.

When in doubt, guess

The ACT gives you credit for the answers you get correct, but does not penalize you for those that are incorrect. Therefore, if you’re uncertain about a question or don’t have enough time to finish, just guess. You can choose your lucky letter or use deductive reasoning, just fill it in -- there’s ¼ chance of it being correct, which doesn’t sound like much, but it’s better than nothing.

Write out your work

The work you include on the test packet will not be scored, so it’s best to just write out your steps. This will reduce the odds of making a careless mistake, and will help you better organize your thoughts and ideas. If you’re dealing with a reading passage, annotate the text.

Check your answers

If you have the time, double check the answers you filled in. There’s a lot of pressure during timed tests, and you don’t want to lose a point over a careless slip-up.

Only focus on the relevant information

Many of the answers can be found buried beneath excess information, so know how to differentiate between what’s important and what’s not. This can especially be applied in the Science and Reading sections of the test.


Good luck to all my fellow test-takers!! You are going to do great.