Top 10 ACT Tips for Acing the Exam


The ACT is a test undertaken post-high school for admission to a college or university. It comprises of four multiple-choice tests in English, Math, Reading, and Science with an optional writing test.

Here are our top 10 ACT tips to help students score high in the exam:

ACT Study Tips:

School Test Vs ACT

Teachers at school periodically test students on topics taught in the classroom to gauge their knowledge retention. However, ACT tests students on their approach to a problem. For example, one doesn’t necessarily have to solve a math problem step by step as given in a rulebook. There could be more than one way to approach a solution.

ACT doesn’t test students on how much they know. It tests them on how well they apply the knowledge they acquired during the school years. It is a test of strategy and approach to the right answer.

Practice Tests

Surprisingly many students sit for the ACT test just to see how they score, secretly hoping to score well without practicing. One of the simplest ACT study tips to follow is to first take a practice test that will act as a diagnostic one. It will help understand subject wise strengths and weaknesses and will also familiarize one with the test pattern, writing tone and style. This ACT study tip alone can make a huge difference during the prep. phase of the exam. Taking practice tests using official guides is always more beneficial. This helps acquaint students with test conditions similar to the official one.

Timing is Everything

The ACT is a timed test. Students make the mistake of not timing their practice tests which may leave them underprepared. During the mock, it is crucial to time each section. This helps in budgeting time to answer all questions during the official test. A study tip to follow here is to divide the allotted time into four parts. Know the time it will take to:

  • Read the questions
  • Answer questions
  • Calculate or re-read to find information
  • Double-check or review answers

While practicing tests, take them in one sitting. This way you will train yourself well to complete the test in the allotted time.

Be An Active Learner

Engaging while learning is another useful ACT study tip to follow. Just knowing the right answer is not enough. Reading the correct answers in detail to understand what makes them the right choice is important. One should be able to explain the process/ rule/technique without having to memorize it.


Calculators may be allowed for the Math section of the ACT test. To make the best use of it, know how to use it well. The best way to go about this is to use the calculator you will be using during your official test, for your ACT Math practice tests too. This way you will familiarize yourself fairly well with it, to use it fast enough on the test day.

ACT Exam Tips:

Easy Questions First

After skimming through the question paper identify easy questions to answer them first. After answering all the questions you are sure of, get to the difficult ones. If there are questions you are not sure of or think will require guessing, leave them for later.

The test scores you on the number of right answers you get, so attempting all questions is advisable. There is no negative marking for wrong answers.

English Section:

Hone Your Reading Skills

Practice improving your reading speed. The better one gets at it the more time it will help save during the test day. However, it is important to read and comprehend at the same time. Do not make the mistake of assuming information. Reading 20 to 30 mins every day is one the simplest and easiest way to improve reading speed. Keep the reading light such as a newspaper, a magazine or short stories.

Focus on Underline Parts

Pay close attention to the underlined parts in the question or the passage. Answers to the question may be based on the elements of underlined portions of writing or some questions may ask to find alternatives to the underlined parts that are LEAST or NOT acceptable. When reading a question, understanding its context is vital. It helps identify the exact information required to answer the question right.

Math Section:

20-20-20 Principal

Follow this principle to allocate time evenly to attempt all the problems. As per the rule, the first 30 questions should be attempted in the first 20 minutes, the next 20 questions in the next 20 minutes and the last 10 questions, the toughest ones in the remaining 20 minutes. The idea here is to use speed at the beginning to save time for later. Remember questions at the beginning are generally easy, it is the latter part of the test that usually requires more work. Check more details about the ACT Math section, here.

Science Section:

Chart/Graph Questions First

Attempt questions based on charts or graphs first as they are generally easier compared to research and conflicting viewpoint-based questions. To answer the graph questions properly an ACT exam tip to remember is to read the labels carefully. If you get the labels right, it will help you establish the connection between data points quickly, which in turn will help find the information you are looking for easily. Not understanding labels right in the first go will lead to back and forth reading resulting in loss of time. Get more details on the ACT Science section, click here.

Conflicting Viewpoint Questions Last

As these questions require careful reading to grasp all the necessary information required to answer them, attempt these questions after answering all the other ones. The questions may ask you to distinguish between stated conflicting viewpoints. A good practice to follow here is to make note of the important points for each viewpoint. The notes made will act as a road map for your answers later.

Following these ACT study and exam tips during your preparation and guided assistance from an expert tutor shall help you get to your best ACT score.

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