Updated by: Neha Kumari on Aug. 10, 2021, 5:56 p.m.
Once a candidate has gone through the ACT syllabus and ACT exam pattern, the next step is to start preparing for it. Before starting the preparation process multiple questions pop- up in his/her head of the student like How to prepare well for the ACT?, How to go about the vast syllabus of ACT?
ACT is an important test for admission to top colleges and universities in the USA and other study-abroad destinations. Some of the popular colleges accepting ACT scores include the University of Central Florida, University of Illinois- Chicago, University of Massachusets, Boston etc. A strategic study plan is definitely required to score well on the test. The syllabus of ACT isn’t tough and covers topics that one has already studied in high school. Thus, the focus of the student should be to prepare for the ACT in the right direction., i.e one must know his/ her strengths and weaknesses in subjects and focus more on taking practice sets.
The syllabus of ACT is designed to cover topics that a student has already studied in high school. Thus, for some students self-preparation is sufficient to prepare for the ACT while for others ACT coaching may be required. It is upto the students to figure out if he/ she needs guidance from an expert to prepare for the ACT.
Need Help in Preparing for ACT?
Refer to the following section for a detailed ACT preparation strategy.
ACT COVID-19 Update
The registration window for ACT has been reponed. Various policies have been updated following guidelines from local officials and CDC guidance to provide social distancing instruction at ACT test centres.
Students can take the test in the upcoming months based on their convenience and study abroad plans. As the next ACT test schedule is released for the rest of the months of 2021 and first few months of 2022, students can utilise the time to prepare for the test.
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No matter how good a preparation strategy is, it cannot be executed well until you are self-motivated and honest with the preparation. Following is the general guidelines that will give you a pathway to prepare well for ACT and eventually help you score well in the ACT.
Start Preparation Early
The foremost step before ACT preparation is to decide when to take the ACT. Do not register for ACT just before the test date and attempt it without proper preparation. Based on the date when you need to take the ACT, start preparing for the ACT test at least 3 weeks before taking the test.
Have a Clear Understanding of ACT Structure & Format
Once you decide the ACT test date for yourself, take the first few days to understand the ACT structure and format. For this, you must go through the ACT Exam pattern & ACT Syllabus thoroughly and also take a few ACT Practice Sets to get a complete picture of the test.
Make a Study Plan
Plan your ACT preparation days well and analyse the time required to complete the syllabus of ACT. Given enough time for all sections of the ACT.
Take ACT Practice Set
ACT practice sets are a must for preparation. Make sure you take the mock test seriously and that you take enough practice sets before appearing for the final ACT exam.
Focus on Weak Topics and Sections
If you take the preparation process seriously, you will realise the sections where you need to pay extra attention. The simple and effective way to analyse your performance while preparing for ACT is by taking a timed ACT practice test. After taking a series of practice tests you can replan your daily schedule to focus more on topics that require more practice.
ACT is generally divided into English, Reading, Maths and Science sections. Writing test is also part of the ACT test. However, it is not necessary to enrol for the same. Students are required to go through the section-wise preparation tips for the ACT as each section possesses different types of questions and different weightage. The general guidelines for Section-wise SCT preparation is given below:
Make a list of topics for each section of ACT you need to prepare
Mark important topics for each section
Figure out the ACT sections you are weak at
Collect study material, either online or offline
Make important notes and formulas
Consider each section equally important to score well in ACT
Check out the ways on how to prepare for ACT for each section below:
English section comprises 75 questions and a candidate needs to complete them in 45 minutes. Speed is required majorly for attempting this section. Check out the tips below to perform better in the ACT English section.
Be mindful while attempting the questions. Observe the writing style and tone before attempting every passage.
Know about the basics and grammatical rules. ACT will test the applicant's knowledge of grammar and norms. If one is fluent in it, it would help him/her in saving time for complex questions.
It is essential to pay attention to the answer choices. Aspirants need to consider them as the clue as they help in guiding them to the correct answer. Take notice of what remains the same and what changes in the answers to find the potential answer.
Stick to the rules and not to your ear. Sentences or words might sound incorrect but if the grammatical rules apply to them, they are always right.
Read the whole sentence. Focus on increasing the reading speed.
To save time students often make the mistake of skipping a few lines considering them unimportant. No sentence is less important. Pay attention to each word of the question closely, they might be the biggest clue.
The reading test of ACT has 40 questions and applicants are expected to answer them in 30 minutes. Enlisted below are tips with the potential of increasing the efficiency of the applicant.
Follow a plan and strategize. A candidate must recognise the difficulty level of the passages. They can start with the easy one and move on to the difficult one or vice versa. Reading test is attempted as per the potential and abilities of the student.
The practice is the key to the reading test. With an ample amount of practice at hand, the speed increases along with accuracy. Solve the practise papers, mock tests etc. to gain proficiency.
Read the question before starting with the answer. It would provide a clear picture of what and where the candidate needs to look for the correct answer.
Keep your vocabulary game strong. Spend time with books, newspapers and magazines. They might help in improving vocabulary. With the knowledge of complex words, the fluency in the reading section does not break.
Maths section comes with 60 questions that need to be answered in the span of 60 minutes. Follow the preparation tips for ACT maths featured below to improve the score.
Be clear with the Maths formulas. Memorize them by heart as, without them, the Math section is impossible to attempt.
Only through practice can a candidate gain accuracy in this section. The more problems you solve, the more insight and exposure you get.
Go through the previous year’s question paper of ACT and practice paper. They give an idea of the type of questions that might come in the exam.
Learning tricks and formulas for solving certain problems might do wonders for the candidates. It saves a lot of time and candidates can invest the spare time in the complex questions.
Questions will be based on high school knowledge only. Pick out the study materials wisely and keep in mind their reliability.
With 40 questions to answer in 35 minutes, the Science test requires practice and comprehension. Go through the preparation tips for Science mentioned below in order to ace the test:
Know the exam pattern and the types of questions that have the potential of appearing in the exam. It would save the candidate time and energy which he/she might invest later in preparing for the test.
Work on your speed by practising through mock tests and practice papers. Try to be better each day.
Know your strengths and weaknesses and plan the strategy accordingly. Give more time to complex concepts.
Circle out or jot down important information that you can revisit while revisioning for the test. Revision helps in keeping the memory fresh and strengthening the concepts.
The 40-minute long writing test measures the writing skills of the applicant. The section comprises an essay that follows a predictable pattern each year that makes practising for the writing section of ACT easy:
Follow the mantra of Read, Write and Repeat! Reading the newspaper, magazines, Listening to debates and news analyses and participating in discussions help in building the foundation of your writing skills.
Practise writing poems, stories, reports, editorials, letters to the editor along with essays. It helps a lot in enhancing writing skills.
Set a timer! Try practising with the timer on as candidates will be given 40 minutes to wrap up their essay. Speed should be taken care of.
Become familiar with the current issues occurring in society. Develop and share your opinions on them.
Share your writing with others in order to get feedback. Constructive feedback always helps a person in evolving and fixing mistakes.
1. What are some of the best ACT study guides?
The official ACT Prep Guide, ACT Prep Black Book, Princeton Review Cracking the ACT, McGraw Hill ACT, Kaplan’s ACT Premier are some of the best books to prepare for the ACT.
2. Is coaching required to prepare for the ACT?
The questions asked in the ACT test are of the level of senior secondary school. If your basic concepts are clear and you have good command on English language then you self prepare for the ACT test.
3. Where can I access the free online practice test for the ACT?
Free online practice tests questions are available on the official website of ACT. Questions are available for all sections on the website.
4. What are some of the best books to prepare for the ACT test?
The Official Beginner’s Guide for the ACT, Official ACT Math Guide, Official ACT English Guide, Official ACT Reading Guide, Official ACT Science Guide are the best books recommended to prepare for the ACT test.
5. What is ACT Online Preparation?
ACT Online Preparation is a 6 months subscription available on the official website of ACT. It gives the subscriber access to test preparation courses, full-length practice tests, daily goals and tools to track progress. Test papers can be accessed on computer and mobile devices.
6. Where can I find a full-length practice test for the ACT?
The Official ACT Prep Guide covers 4 full practice tests, The ACT Online Prep covers 2 full practice tests and the ACT Academy covers 2 tests.
7. What is the right time to start preparing for the ACT test?
The candidate must start preparing for the ACT test at least 6 months before taking the test for the best result.
8. What is the ACT Prep Guide?
ACT Prep Guide is a yearly book published by ACT. The book has four full-length test papers. It is a complete guide for ACT that comes with preparation tips and strategies. It also contains answers and reviews for each question.
9. Is specific or general concepts required while preparing for ACT?
The candidate must first practice some test papers available on the official website of the ACT. Once the pattern and level of question asked in the test is clear they can plan their preparation accordingly. Some topics asked in ACT require detailed and specific practice.
10. Does the ACT Academy practice test predict the ACT composite score?
After taking the full-length practice test, the candidate receives a scorecard.