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Mastering the ACT: Step 3, Basic Tips

The biggest challenge for most students on the test is time management. The ACT is a long, tedious test and timing is tight, particularly on the reading and science sections.

Here are some basic tips to help deal with the timing and the tedium of the exam.

  1. Fill in all the bubbles. Remember there is NO penalty for guessing. Students should always bubble in all bubbles. If you run out of time, fill in the same letter for each bubble.

  2. Don’t waste time getting problems wrong. Unlike school exams, where to get a good score students have to get nearly every question correct, on the ACT students can get several questions wrong and still get a great score. The best test takers focus on getting every question they know how to do right and don’t waste time getting problems wrong.

  3. Focus on the answers. Before trying to solve a question, read the answers carefully. You might be able to use process of elimination to cross off several options or even choose the right answer without looking back into a passage or doing any calculations.

  4. Be an active test taker. It is difficult to stay focused during a 3+ hour long test. Remember, you can write all over the test booklets. Underline key words in questions. Use process of elimination to cross off wrong answers. Draw shapes to help you solve math problems. The more active you are, the less likely you are to lose your focus during the test or to make small mistakes.

  5. Bubble at the end of passages: Instead of bubbling after every question or at the end of an entire test, the most efficient test takers bubble at the end of each passage or set of questions. On English, Reading, and Science bubble after each passage. On Math, bubble after each page or every 2 pages.

  6. Remember to give yourself small breaks. If you find yourself losing your focus or getting anxious, look away from the test for a second. Take a deep breath. Refocus. And dive back in. You’ll do great!

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