Tips for the ACT Test

10 Tips for ACT Prep

Administered by ACT Inc., it is a nationalized college admission examination that measures the high-school level accomplishment of prospective college applicants. All four-year colleges and universities in the US require/accept exam results as part of their application formalities. If you have completed high school and are thinking of college, here are a few tips for the test of ACT that you might find useful.

Why ACT?

As a prospective exam candidate, it is vital that you start your preparation with essential information on ACT. Before moving on to the tips for this test, here are two important questions discussed - why ACT and what is ACT.





The ACT test (pronounced 'ey-see-tee') functions as an objective measurement platform for the US colleges and universities for their admission processes. This curriculum-based entrance test measures your academic abilities in five core subject areas as acquired through high school courses, and evaluates college-preparedness empirically. In addition to colleges and universities, some loan and scholarship agencies also use the test's scores for selecting eligible candidates. Hence, it is important if you are looking for financial aid for college, as well. Moreover, today, the test also functions as a career planning aid.

What is ACT?

Developed and conducted by ACT Inc., a non-profit establishment, it is a competitive examination conducted nationally and internationally. Here are a few essential facts about the exam that you might find useful:

  • All persons including those from grades 6 to 9 and high-school graduates may take the test. Many people recommend that you take the test in your junior class, so that you have a fairly good idea of the curriculum, and you still have time to retake the test, if need be.

  • The test consists of multiple-choice questions in four sections and an optional Writing section.

  • The test is administered six times nationally and five times internationally every year. You may register online for the test or by mail.

  • Early registrations are recommended for the test. It is advised that you take your test at least two months before the application deadline, so that you receive your scores on time. The exam scores are reported at least 3 to 8 weeks after your test date for the No Writing test; while the ACT Plus Writing scores may be reported in 5-8 weeks after the test date.

  • If required, you may retake the test, subject to the policies and rules of ACT testing. You can take the exam 12 times in total.

For more details about the ACT and tips for the test, visit the official web pages: (http://www.act.org/aap/index.html; http://www.actstudent.org/index.html).

Tips for ACT Preparation

ACT tests your academic accomplishments at high-school level. So, if you are in school, you might not require any additional coaching or preparation for the exam. However, the test being a competitive admission test, it is always better to familiarize yourself with the test structure, questions patterns, time limits etc. Given below are a few important pointers or tips for the test:

  1. Understanding the test pattern is important. It has four mandatory, multiple-choice question sections on English, Science, Mathematics, and Reading. The topics covered in these sections measure your cognition of relevant concepts as per school curriculum up to the twelfth grade.

  2. It is also important that you understand the content areas tested in ACT. The English section includes 75 multiple-choice questions to evaluate your skills in English rhetoric and usage. The Reading section of the test evaluates your abilities at reading comprehension, and includes questions from various disciplines like Natural Sciences and Humanities. The Science section of the test measures your skills at analysis, interpretation, reasoning and evaluation, and problem-solving; while the Mathematics section focuses on relevant mathematical concepts and topics at high-school level.

  3. The ACT Plus Writing test consists of a Writing part, in addition to the four mandatory sections. You may take ACT Plus Writing, if a Writing score is required by the college where you are applying. In the Writing part, you need to write a descriptive essay, based on which your writing abilities are evaluated.

  4. Practice the test with sample questions/previous papers. Practicing helps you to increase speed and judge the time it takes to answer questions; therefore, you learn to use the time effectively.

  5. One of the best tips for the test - Writing section is to prepare yourself by doing a lot of general reading and writing exercises. Building your vocabulary and practicing essay-writing are other recommended methods of preparation. Looking at sample essay prompts would be a good idea; you may find a number of sample prompts online at: http://actstudent.org/writing/sample/index.html.

  6. From self preparation to joining a formal program, there are different ways you can prepare yourself for the test. It is important that you choose the best method that suits your personal style of learning and any specific test taking requirements.

  7. You may find a good number of books and preparation materials available in the market. Some of the popular titles include:

    • The Real ACT Prep Guide by ACT Inc.

    • Cracking the ACT by The Princeton Review

    • McGraw-Hill's ACT

  8. The official website is the best online place to begin your test preparation. Many free online materials are available that can help you prepare for the test (http://www.actstudent.org/testprep/index.html).

  9. In addition to a number of free resources and practice questions, ACT Inc. also publishes the official preparation guide, and provides an online test preparation program for the test.

  10. Almost all the established companies in the test preparation industry like Kaplan and The Princeton Review provide preparation programs for the test. You can find many options like customizable programs, classroom based programs, and online programs to choose from.

For more information and tips for preparation of ACT, see: http://www.actstudent.org/testprep/tips/index.html.

The tips mentioned above are only a few strategies and pointers for the test taking and preparation. In addition, it is a good idea to check with people who have already taken the test, or your high-school teachers or instructors for preparation tips. Taking practice tests is another good way to prepare yourself for this college-readiness test.