ACT Preparation: How to Prepare for ACT in 2023?

With the Undergrad Admissions process for 2023 Fall on, the students would like to take the ubiquitous SAT or ACT for securing a seat in prestigious institutions. ACT is yet another competitive exam and to perform well in it, the student should know the structure and content of the test.

The ACT test is an online test for international students, while US students have access to both the paper-pencil and the computer-based ones (CBT). The ACT exam dates in 2022- 23 are:

  • 9-10 December 2022 – Last registration date: 11 November
  • 10-11 February 2023 – Last registration date: 13 January
  • 14-15 April 2023- Last registration date: 17 March
  • 9-10 June 2023 – Last registration date: 12 May
  • 14-15 July 2023 – Last registration date: 16 June

Both the paper- pencil and the CBT have the same sections, number of questions, time limits, and scoring system. In the online format, the overall passage or the problem will be on the left side and the question on the right side. One has to click the circle beside the answer to select it. To make the test-taking experience better, ACT has included a timer and five online tools: a magnifier, highlighter, answer masking, answer marking, and a line reader. Let us now look at the sections on the test.

Order of the Section Section/ Test No. of Questions Time Allotted No. of Answer Options
1 English 75 45 minutes Multiple Choice, 4 answers
2 Math 60 60 minutes Multiple Choice, 5 answers
3 Reading 40 35 minutes Multiple Choice, 4 answers
4 Science 40 35 minutes Multiple Choice, 4 answers
5 Writing 1 40 minutes Essay prompt


Let us now look at the ACT exam syllabus. The different sections on the ACT test different skills and knowledge. Hence, you have to use different strategies for different ACT subjects or sections. Also, each section has different question patterns which the student must familiarize himself with.

English: The ACT English section tests on two major areas – Usage and Mechanics (including punctuation, grammar, usage, and sentence structure) and Rhetorical Skills (including strategy, organization, and style). There are five passages each with 15 questions.

Math: This section tests high school mathematics which includes – Algebra, Arithmetic, Geometry, and Data Analysis. Students are allowed to use one of the permitted calculators in this section. Unlike the SAT, ACT does not provide reference sheets with formulae.

Reading: In the Reading section, one has to read the passages and answer the questions accordingly. There is no need for any prior knowledge in this section. There are four subject topics – Humanities, Social, Literature, and Natural Science. Each passage has 10 questions.

Science: The science section is similar to the reading section. There are seven passages that may contain charts, graphs, experimental summaries, or clashing viewpoints of scientists. Each passage will be followed by 4 to 7 questions.

Writing: This section is optional and tests the analytical writing skills of the students.

The ACT is scored on a range of 1-36. Each section is scored on a range of 1-36 and the final score is a rounded-off average of the four section scores. The Writing section is scored on a range of 2-12, which is an average of four domain scores.


ACT Tips on How to Prepare for the Exam

1. Plan for the Test

One can register for the ACT using an ACT account. The test can be booked on the ACT website. Decide on the test date. There is an option of directly sending the ACT scores to 4 colleges that you select during the registration. The scores will reach the colleges as early as two days from the test date. But it may get delayed by a few weeks. So it is advisable to take the ACT at least two months before the college deadlines. The additional score reports can be sent later if you choose to change your mind about the colleges. For further ACT information, visit the ACT.org website.


2. Know the Structure and Content of the Test

The first step to prepare for a test like ACT is to know the structure and the content of the test. Learn about the timing you have per question, the different online tools and how they work, and the different question types you may come across on the test.

3. Set Your Target Score

Visit university websites and collect information about their score requirements for the different courses.


4. Start looking for How to Prepare

To begin with, take a sample ACT prep test. There are six official practice tests available, five ACT practice test pdf and one online. The score on this test should help you decide if you want to do self-prep or take up ACT classes.

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5. How to Choose the Prep Course

The ACT Test Prep that you choose should provide you with the right strategies and ACT-like test materials for preparation. You may choose to have an online or an offline batch based on your availability and accessibility.


6. What Books Should You Use

Look for the best ACT books for your preparation. These books should not just deliver the content, but also teach you strategies that could help save time. The questions and the tests in the book should be closely aligned with the actual test.


7. Make a Study Schedule

Remember that you cannot cram everything in a week. Plan to spend a consistent number of hours every week on the ACT prep. Break down your preparation into bite-sized pieces. Avoid distractions. Have an exam-like environment. Say a goodbye to social media and mobile phones during practice time.


8. Learn the Content and Strategies

There is no replacement for hard work. Learn the necessary content relevant to the ACT test. And knowledge alone may not be enough to take us to the finishing line. You have to create strategies for answer elimination, time management, and guessing.


9. Regular Practice and Tests

Your practice materials need to simulate the actual test. The practice materials are meant to sharpen your skills. These can include specific question types, topics, or entire sections. Solve a few ACT exam sample papers before you take the actual test. Learn from your mistakes. Learn where you are making mistakes: in the concepts, in the application, lack of concentration, or lack of time. Learn to improve in those areas rather than constantly working on your strengths. Schedule the tests during the same time as the actual ACT.


10. Seek Professional Help if Need be

The tests you take need to be reviewed and remedial measures should be taken accordingly. Don’t shriek away from taking professional help in this accord.


Test day Tips

  • Don’t cram things the previous day. Hang out with your friends or watch a movie instead.
  • Have dinner and get good sleep.
  • Keep the confirmation letter, acceptable ID, and calculators ready.
  • Have a light breakfast.
  • The test begins at 8.30. So make it a point to reach the center at 7.30 am.
  • Don’t panic. Leave the test-taking pressure at the doorstep because you cannot change anything on the test day. Enjoy the test-taking experience.
  • Remember to carry some snacks for break time.


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Can I use a calculator on the ACT?

Scientific or graphing calculator can be used for all the questions on the ACT Math section alone. However, not all questions in the math section require calculator.

How to do SAT preparation for the exam?

  1. Solve the easy SAT questions in SAT.
  2. Decide how many questions to solve on the SAT Preparation test.
  3. A, B, C, or D? Which is your favorite? for SAT study preparation.
  4. Eliminate the wrong answers during the SAT exam preparation.
  5. Read questions completely most times, in a question, the SAT always asks for something unexpected.
  6. Underline the key parts of the questions and the text, SAT preparation to try to work on this more in your study plan for SAT.
  7. Cut it into pieces, SAT Study preparation.
  8. Use your calculator shrewdly but do not overly rely on the Calculator, practice without the calculator during your SAT study plan.
  9. Consider when to calculate and when to estimate, and do prepare for SAT to be able to do it quickly.
  10. Solve and bubble in tandem, do proper practice and make a good SAT study preparation plan to aim for higher marks.

What are the tips to prepare for the SAT?

  • Brush up on all approaches to different question types on SAT Verbal and SAT Math
  •  Take a good number of mock tests before your actual test date. Have them reviewed with your mentor to help you understand your errors and do better gradually
  • Always take full-length tests to build up your endurance for the 3-hour long test
  • Take the easy questions first and get them all right. Give a good shot at the harder questions. Finish the paper

Are international students required to take the SAT or ACT?

Yes, as an international student you will have to take the SAT or ACT test to study in USA for your bachelor’s degree. There are very few exceptions to this rule. SAT or ACT tests are meant to test the critical thinking and reasoning skills of applicants who wish to study at a US university. The scores help the admission panel understand the degree of readiness of an applicant for studying in a US University.

Can I cancel my ACT score?

Students cannot cancel the scores. ACT reserves the right to cancel the scores when they find the score is invalid for some reason.

Can I achieve my dream score through SAT coaching?

Undoubtedly possible, if you have a realistic dream score and you are focused towards it. Through Manya SAT Live Online coaching you learn techniques and strategies, teachers teach even the most complex problems in easy to understand ways and you get access to comprehensive SAT materials. The online proctoring tool enables you to practice tests for pacing and real test taking experience. Your progress will be closely monitored and mentored for betterment.

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