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Preparing for ACT



The ACT is a college admission and placement examination. This article provides tips about ways to prepare for the ACT exam.  It lists information about preparation techniques and the testing regimen, as well as training and tutoring opportunities.

Steps to Prepare for the ACT Test

There are a number of different steps you can take in preparation for the ACT test.

1. Pay careful attention to your regular school work. 

English, math, reading, science, and writing form the basis of our education courses. Therefore, as you do your school work, you are gaining skill in these areas and this will help when you take the exams.

2. Consider taking the PSAT/NMSQT (Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test), even if you do not plan to take the SAT and even though it is different from the ACT. Why?

Because most of the tests you’ve taken in school are not standardized tests, so you may not have much experience with them. Although differing in some ways, the PSAT/NMSQT is a standardized test, and taking any standardized test will help you get a feel for what the ACT will be like. In addition, this particular test will automatically enter you in  the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) scholarship program, and that’s not a bad thing.

3. Go to http://www.actstudent.org/testprep/index.html and read the test descriptions.

You may as well know as much as you can, right?

4. Get a copy of the sign-up bulletin, and use any provided practice materials. In order to be able to take the test at the test center you choose, you may need to register early. You can also choose which colleges to send your scores to, and find out if the colleges you’re interested in require the writing option (some require it; some recommend it; and some do not require it). Check it out at actrs19.act.org/app3/writPrefRM/

5. Take advantage of the Test Tips at the actstudent.org website.

6. Download the free preparation materials: Preparing for the ACT at actstudent.org/testprep/index.html

7.  Consider purchasing ACT preparation books either from the ACT or other publishers, like Barron’s. The official ACT guide is available at actstudent.org/testprep/book.html

8. Consider purchasing ACT software that allows you to practice at home without going online.

9. Consider any ACT course preparation that your high school may offer. If you can’t find out easily, your guidance counselor will be able to help you.

10. Consider enrolling in an online ACT preparation course, available from ACT, Barron’s, and Kaplan.

11. Consider ACT training or tutoring through Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions or other training and tutoring centers.  A free ACT QuizBank is offered on Kaplan’s site at kaptest.com/College/ACT/Kaplan-Programs/Online-Programs/act-quizbank.html

12. Talk to classmates and your guidance counselor about the test, asking about any elements of it that are of particular concern to you.

13. Familiarize yourself with the test day procedures and expected behaviors noted on the ACT website. Important points to keep in mind, because they are not usual for the types of tests usually taken in school, but do apply with standardized tests are these:

  • You may neither look back at a test section that is officially finished or ahead to a test section that has not yet begun.
  • A calculator is allowed only on the ACT Mathematics Test, and even then, it must meet specifications. According to the ACT website, the most common reason that students are made to leave the ACT administration that involves a calculator is that they have brought a TI-89 calculator to the test.

To prevent issues, read carefully the information here, and comply with the parameters:

actstudent.org/faq/answers/calculator.html

• Cell phones must stay off from the beginning of the test until the end, and that includes breaks.

Find all of this information detailed here: actstudent.org/testprep/taking/prohibited.html

Written by Mary Elizabeth