How to Improve Your ACT Score

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2-12-2019, 20:00
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Updated: December 2, 2019 If you’ve gotten your ACT results and they’re not as high as you hoped, you may want to consider taking the test again. A higher score increases your chances of being accepted into the college of your choice and can help you earn scholarships, so it’s worth the effort and preparation involved in taking the test again. When you’re properly prepared, retesting can raise your score by several points. In fact, students who retook the ACT scored an average of 2.9 points higher on their composite score than people who took the test only once. By practicing efficiently and using solid testing strategies, you can improve your ACT score.

Analyzing Your Score

  1. Review your score report. You can get a copy of your test booklet to find out which questions you missed. Use your score report as a guideline to help you focus your efforts. Concentrate more of your efforts on improving your weaker areas to practice more efficiently.
    • As you’re reviewing your score report, reflect on your testing day. Take notes of any sections that you felt were difficult or places where you ran out of time and couldn’t complete the questions.
    • If you scored high on a particular section, don’t devote too much of your practice time to that area. Don’t aim for perfection; it's better to target your weaker areas to improve your score.
  2. Use data to your advantage. As you’re practicing, make notes to help refine your study techniques. Time your practice and track which sections are taking the longest, and how many questions you’re able to complete within the time limit. Analyze which questions you’re missing the most often, and try to figure out why.
    • Keep track of your practice test scores to monitor progress. As your scores improve, shift your focus to weaker areas.
  3. Space out your study sessions. Rather than long weekly sessions, try several short daily sessions. Schedule two or three 30-40 minute blocks of study time with breaks in between. Cramming in too much information all at once is counterproductive and could lead to burn out.
    • Consistent practice is important, so once you’ve made your schedule stick with it.
  4. Rethink your time management strategy. The ACT is a fast-paced test. Plan ahead how you’ll manage your time effectively to maximize your score and avoid leaving questions unanswered. Decide how you’ll handle hard questions, and how you’ll make sure you’re staying on track timewise.
    • When in doubt, guess! A blank answer is a guaranteed loss of points, but a good guess could result in points.
    • Consider choosing a standard answer like C to bubble in when you’re running out of time. When the five-minute warning is called, fill in all unanswered questions with the standard answer to avoid blank answers.
    • A digital watch with a silent timer is a great tool to make sure you’re staying on track.

Seeking Additional Practice Help

  1. Take an ACT prep class. ACT prep classes can help you learn effective test-taking skills and strategies. They can also help you target your weak content areas. Bring your results with you so your teacher can help you devise an efficient study plan.
  2. Work with a tutor. A tutor is great if you need more one-on-one help and attention. Tutors are also a great resource for help with filling in knowledge gaps in specific content areas. You can ask another student who is great in your weaker subject areas to help you out or hire a tutor from a local tutoring company.
  3. Maximize low-cost resources. Not everyone can afford a tutor or prep class, and that’s ok! There are tons of reliable free or inexpensive resources to help you do your best on the ACT. Check your local library for ACT practice tests, or utilize online resources like Khan Academy’s math, science, and grammar tutorials.
    • If your library ACT prep books are out of date, that’s ok! As long as they are authentic ACT prep material, they’ll be helpful
    • Consider forming a study group with your friends! It will make studying more enjoyable.

Preparing for the Test Day

  1. Pack your bag the night before the test. Make sure you have your ticket, your ID, several sharpened pencils, and an ACT approved graphing calculator. This will save you a lot of stress, and prevent you from running out the door without something you need.
  2. Properly fuel your body. Your brain works more efficiently when it has the proper fuel. Eat a breakfast high in protein to give you the energy and stamina to complete the test. Bring healthy snacks in your bag to refuel on your breaks. Make sure to drink plenty of water.
    • When packing your snacks, choose foods like fruit, nuts, and cheese for healthy lasting energy.
  3. Go to bed early. Your brain can’t operate at peak capacity if you’re tired. Not getting enough rest affects your processing and speed and memory. Make sure you get at least 8 hours of sleep so you can perform your best.
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