Top Tips to Prepare for the ACT

Success in an entrance exam such as the ACT is a function of how well you prepare for the exam and not just how well you answer the questions on the test day. Before commencing your studies you may have a lot of questions related to ACT exam preparation such as -what should be the starting point for the groundwork, which subjects should I study first? How much time should I devote to ACT preparation and so forth?

Scoring high is vital in the ACT as the score will decide whether one gets to study in the college of his/her choice or not. Considering all the factors, it becomes crucial to put in efforts to prepare for the ACT exam in a planned manner. A little effort put in early during the preparation phase, will go a long way in making the study process for ACT exam a stress-free experience.

Let’s take a look at some of the top tips to help you prepare for the efficiently

Understanding the General Test Pattern

Before starting the preparation for the ACT exam, it is important to know its test pattern or how the test is designed.

  • The ACT is a multiple-choice test made up of four sections. These include(1) English, (2) Math, (3) Reading, and (4) Science
  • There is an optional (5) Writing section for students to take
  • It is a 3 hours long test without Writing, 3 hours and 30 minutes with writing. Each section is scored separately and averaged out to arrive at the final score.
  • The English section of the ACT has 75-question and is a 45-minute test with questions related to the following topics:
  • Punctuation (10-15%)
  • Grammar and Usage (15-20%)
  • Sentence Structure (20-25%)
  • Strategy section (15-20%)
  • Organization questions (10-15%)
  • Style questions (15-20%)


  • The Reading section has 40-questions and is a 35-minute test with four passages based on:
  • Prose Fiction/Literary Narrative
  • Social Science
  • Humanities
  • Natural Science


  • The mathematics section has 60-questions and is a 60-minute test with eight types of questions based on:
  • Number & Quantity (7-10%)
  • Algebra (12-15%)
  • Functions (12-15%)
  • Geometry (12-15%)
  • Statistics & Probability (8-12%)
  • Integrating Essential Skills (40-43%)
  • Modelling (>25%)


  • The Science section has 40 questions and is a 35 minutes test with seven passages and has three types of questions:
  • Data Representation (30-40%)
  • Research Summaries (45-55%)
  • Conflicting Viewpoints (15-20%)


  • The ACT writing test is a 40-minute essay test. Questions are designed to test how well
  • One analysis and evaluates different perspectives and expresses own perspective
  • Compares own perspective with that of others


Prepare a Study Plan

Once you have taken a diagnostic test, you will know where you stand in terms of your knowledge with each subject. Based on the result create a study plan that is practical and helps you reach your goal without getting stressed. A study plan will keep you on track and will help you achieve your study goals faster. It will comprise details on:

  • How many study hours to put-in daily
  • Which prep classes to take
  • What subjects to study first
  • When and at what intervals to take the practice tests


A study from the best of ACT prep books

These books will act as your guide to the test as the content of a good prep book is aligned to the actual test. Top three ACT preparation books are:


  • The Official ACT Prep Guide 2019-2020

This is a book from the official test makers. Its test forms are based on actual past tests and the new version comprises of 5 full-length practice tests. The guide also has practical tips on how to boost your score subject and topic wise

  • Princeton Review ACT Premium Prep, 2020

The book covers all the test topics including the reading and writing portions. The book contains 8 full-length practice tests, 4 in the book and 4 online with detailed answer explanations. The online tests give instant score reports. Along with this, there are tips for pacing yourself and guessing logically.

  • ACT Prep Black Book, 2nd Edition

Covering all the topics it has 3 official practice tests. The book focuses on the approach to the ACT exam. It contains hacks on how to approach and solve questions subject wise to finish and review them in a timely manner.

Don’t Rush and Cram

You may hear your friends taking the ACT with just a few weeks of preparation, which may lead you to do the same. Do not book your test dates based on other people’s experiences.

  • Rushing into the test, trying to study all the subjects in a limited period of time, may lead you to resort to cramming.

This will not help, as ACT is a test of your knowledge gained throughout your school years. You stand a chance to ace the exam only if your fundamentals and other concepts are clear.

Remember your goal is to get into a college of your choice, it not about taking theACT exam with the least amount of preparation.

Refer to Your School Notes

The ACT is a test based on high-school content. A simple tip is to refer to your old school notes as they will help you revise concepts much quicker.

Instead of trying to relearn from other sources, revisiting your own notes will help you speed up your preparation journey.

Topics to Focus on Subject-Wise

  • English- Grammar and punctuation. The majority of the questions are related to these two topics.
  • Vocab- Memorizing all the words may not be possible but learning common ACT vocabulary words is important
  • Reading- Practice the strategy of reading the questions first then skimming the passages.
  • Maths- Integers, fractions, and proportions, Algebra, Geometry, and Trigonometry are important. Memorizing the formulas will help a great deal during the test. You can use flashcards for revising.
  • Science- Specific knowledge may not be tested but brushing up physics, chemistry and biology concepts is essential.

It is vital to prepare for the ACT exam carefully with these tips. The right kind of support and guidance will help you prepare well and score high to get you to the college of your choice.

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