For High School Sophs & Juniors: ACT Prep Tips

Standardized test scores are an important part of the college admission process. While they aren’t always an accurate measure of your academic performance, admission committees value high test scores as an indicator of prospective students’ success at their institutions. October 26 is the next ACT test date, and we at the Honors College want you to be prepared (*cue Lion King sing-along*). Here are a few basic tips to send you into the thick of test season with confidence and preparedness.

  • Prepare ahead of time. That ACT book or those practice questions will help you get a feel for the test and give you confidence!
  • Start easy and build your confidence. Skip the hard ones at first, and go back if you have time. (Note that often, the test questions get more difficult as you go, so you may not necessarily have to go out of order.)
  • Answer every question. (Yes, even the hard ones.) Unlike the SAT, no points are deducted for wrong answers… So even if you have no idea, guess! Use process of elimination to narrow it down to the two best choices.
  • Memorize the directions before the test so you don’t have to go back to reference them once you’re in the groove.
  • Stay focused. You have about thirty seconds per question; zoning out will cost you points.
  • Bring a watch. There might not be a clock in your testing facility.
  • Follow your gut. Only change an answer if you find evidence later on that it’s incorrect; studies show our intuition is usually right.
  • Check your ovals. There’s nothing worse than realizing you’re a number or two off and having to hunt for your missed question.
  • Bring a calculatoran approved one. All of the math questions can be answered without a calculator, but bringing one will save you time.
  • Outline before you write. Test graders are looking for well-organized essays.
  • Be neat. Fill in your ovals and erase any stray marks—since the test is graded by a machine, any doodles can be misinterpreted as wrong answers!
  • When the proctor says “stop,” STOP. Don’t risk dismissal over one more question.

As the date approaches, keep in mind that stressing out won’t do you any good. Being prepared will help you remain calm and have all your cylinders firing during these standardized tests. And remember that, if one test gets the better of you, there are other options–you might choose to submit your SAT scores instead, or even take the ACT again. We hope these tips help you succeed on standardized tests and let prospective schools know what a stellar student you are!

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