27 Tips To Ace The ACT

In this mini-series, we are talking about tips to ace standardized tests. The last post covered the must-know techniques for the SAT. So, without much ado, let’s move on with the ACT!

Overall ACT

  1. Practice only with the authentic and high-quality test material.
  2. Document and revise your mistakes frequently. Understand why you are making them. Solve similar questions to get more familiar with difficult areas.
  3. Bubble in the answer sheet in one go. This will save you 5 seconds per question i.e. 5*40 = 200 seconds = 3+ mins per section!
  4. You must master to identify if any question is ‘do now’ or ‘do later’. If you are not able to solve, guess and move on.

Math

  1. Practice only Math sections when you are preparing. Don’t mix them with other sections.
  2. If you run out of time while practicing, still complete the section and note how much extra time you took. While practicing, the focus must be on learning.
  3. Analyze all questions. Even if you got something right, read the given explanation to see if there is any better/faster solution.
  4. Memorize all formulas and frequently tested concepts  – right-angle triangles, Pythagorean triplets, etc.
  5. Use answer choices to eliminate incorrect answers. In difficult questions, this tactic will prove to be a boon.

Reading

  1. Experiment with different passage reading strategies – skim reading, detailed reading, reading the questions before the passage, etc- and master the one that works for you.
  2. Use the test booklet well. Underline all the important text and take notes.
  3. There are 4 passages to be done in 35 mins. So you MUST move on to a new passage after ~9 mins!
  4. Take at least one reading passage every day and analyze your responses.
  5. While practicing, learn all the new words you encounter. The same words may appear in a similar passage on the test day.
  6. Before looking up the answer choices, frame the answer in your own words. This will save you from being influenced by incorrect, but cleverly worded, answer choices.

English

  1. Remember the 4Cs – the correct answer is Complete, Consistent, Concise, and Clear.
  2. Get a solid hold on the following grammar sections:
    1. Subject-Verb Agreement
    2. Pronoun Agreement
    3. Adjectives and Adverbs
    4. Comparison and Superlatives
  3. Read aloud (don’t shout!) the answer choices to filter out inaccuracies. Hearing is a doubler-checker method!
  4. Incorrect answer choices have specific errors, while the correct answer choice is impeccable. So look at the problem from two ends – identifying correctness and eliminating incorrectness.
  5. Don’t ignore the ‘No Change’ answer. Statistically, one-fourth of all answers are ‘No Change’!
  6. Integrate ACT grammar in your everyday speaking and reading. You will be surprised how many errors you will spot! All that accounts for learning, and, of course, fun.

Science

  1. Science passages are filled with specific details that are impossible to remember. So employ skim reading technique. Know what is where, and read carefully if your question demands.
  2. Weird-looking graphs are common. They are there to confuse you. Understand what the graph indicates, without looking too hard into the numbers. Look at the graph when there is specific data to be looked up.
  3. You MUST know the basic scientific concepts such as
    1. Acids and bases
    2. Electric/magnetic charges
    3. Natural selection
    4. Gravity and motion
  4. Know the type of passages you are naturally good at. Solve them first.

Essay

  1. Most competitive colleges factor in essay scores as well. So, don’t skip the essay section, even if you are tempted to.
  2. Understand that a good essay is as much about structuring and presentation, as about language and grammar.
  3. Outline your essay before you start writing. Clearly define your thesis/stand and explain your reasoning with specific examples.
  4. You score better when you use the facts to strengthen your stand on the issue at hand, than simply state them.
  5. Use strong, relevant, apt vocabulary. ‘Robots are better than humans at work’ can be improved as ‘Robots are more efficient at repetitive high-precision jobs than humans.’
  6. Proofreading is the easiest score-improver tactic as simple punctuation and grammar mistakes can hurt your score.

Putting it all together, ACT is no different than a practice grind. You score as much as you practice! So keep calm and ACT on!


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