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Doodle Nandi

Doodle Nandi is a content editor for Hotcourses India- an IDP company, and helps write articles that help students with their study abroad journey.


05 Apr 2017 252 Book icon 3 mins Share

Tips to prepare for the ACT exam

This article serves as a complete information resource about ACT test and how to go about it.

05 Apr 2017 252 Book icon 3 mins Share
Doodle Nandi

Doodle Nandi is a content editor for Hotcourses India- an IDP company, and helps write articles that help students with their study abroad journey.


Share this article
Tips to prepare for the ACT exam

What’s ACT?

ACT is the short form of American College Testing, which is a paper-based standardised test used to assess the skills of high school students for admissions at colleges in the United States and also at certain Canadian universities and colleges. 

Students who want to study abroad can choose between ACT and SAT, giving preference to the one that they think is easier for them to attempt and more helpful for their career. Precisely, ACT is a straightforward and shorter test compared with SAT.

ACT is an alternative to SAT and there are a few differences and similarities in their patterns. Follow this article to know which is more suitable for you – either ACT or SAT?

We’ll take you through on how to prepare for the ACT. First, we'll give a brief overview about ACT 

  1. ACT measures the knowledge and skills that you have acquired throughout your education.
  2. The test features multiple choice questions and there are four core areas – English, Math, Reading and Science (in order).
  3. Writing is an optional area where you need to write an essay once you finish the four key areas.
  4. You will be spending total 3 hours 45 minutes for the test, which excludes intervals. 
  5. The test is offered mostly by US and Canadian colleges and universities 6 times a year.

Follow the official website to know more about the ACT registration and which colleges ask for the essay section as a mandatory category to apply.  Find out more:

ACT for educators and ACT for postsecondary professionals. Also peruse the website to know about getting your scores and further details.


Below I have discussed certain tips on how to prepare for the ACT exam:

1. Start with books* – Barron’s ACT 36 and Kaplan and McGraw Hill ACT books are quite good. You can also search for practice materials at Other popular books of 2016–17 are – the official ACT prep guide, Act prep black book, the complete guide to ACT English, ultimate guide to the Math ACT and the complete guide to ACT Reading.   

2. Clear your concepts – The fundamentals of Mathematics, Science and English should be at your finger tips. The main objective of this test is to assess your knowledge, mostly practical, that you have earned at a high-school level.

Moreover, the science section is hardly about any hard-core subjects but will cover the basic concepts that will test your practical abilities.  

3. Practise more– You need to practise all possible study materials* available for ACT besides whatever your private tutor, if any, asks you to practise. Keep in mind that practising old test materials may sometimes help because those old questions might give you a clue while attempting a new question. However, you should practise the test materials at least 4 to 5 days in a week for minimum 30 minutes each day.

4. Tighten your weak points – If you feel you are weak in Mathematics, you need to focus on that. As I pointed out that fundamentals should be very clear, ACT tests students’ abilities to solve trickiest of Math problems. There are mainly four trigonometry questions and intermediate algebra questions in the Math section.

Similarly, if you feel your weak point is English language, you need to develop your skills by reading and listening stuffs in English, say listening to radio every morning and watching English movies or taking some online English classes.

5. Never forget instructions – Always read through the instructions on the ACT website and any other information that you accumulate from other similar sources. It is always advisable to register at least 3 months before the exam to not only know about your test date and test centre on time but also memorise all crucial instructions so that you don’t waste time on the test day re-reading them.

6. Take it slow – You should focus and slowly attempt each question; of course time yourself so that you do not start pouring everything down on the paper at the last minute.  

7. Do not leave questions unanswered– Another advantage of the ACT exam is there is no negative mark for any wrong attempts. It’s best to work on each question carefully rather skipping them because you won't be penalised for guessing. Or else you can concentrate on all those skipped questions once you complete answering the rest.

Ideally, you can start preparing 6 months earlier the final test day of ACT. I‘ll leave it on you to decide how much time you need in hand for preparing for ACT. Make sure you do browse the official website and start gathering information as early as possible.

Fact source: US News & World Report

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