Preparing for the ACT
What’s your favorite learning style? That should determine your best approach to preparing for the test.
- I learn best on my own: Access prep books, online resources and mobile apps, so you’re efficient with your study time. Set a plan to help you stay motivated like studying six hours in July for the math sections, six hours in August for English, etc. Your school counselor’s office may have resources you can borrow too!
- I learn best in a classroom: Take an ACT or SAT prep course. There is often a cost associated with the course, but higher scores can mean more scholarship dollars, so it’s likely a good investment.
- Some schools offer their own prep courses.
- I learn best one-on-one: Hire a tutor to create a study plan, coach you on areas where you need help and hold you accountable.
Paying for the test
The ACT costs $70 if you include the writing portion; $55 if you don’t. If you need financial assistance, you may request a fee waiver.
The SAT costs just about the same. For the SAT® with writing, it is $68 or without the writing section, you will pay $52. You may also request a waiver.
Getting a good score on the ACT or SAT
You’ve studied and it is test time. How do you get the best score possible?
Both the ACT and SAT are multiple choice tests, except for the essay portion. Knowledge, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills are important, but knowing a few tricks can raise your score.
- If you’re not sure about the answer, eliminate those you think are wrong. From those that are left, choose the answer you think is best. Usually, your first hunch is the best one, so go with that if you’re not sure. Only change your answer if you remember the correct one, and it’s different.
- Skip a question if you don’t know the answer and come back to it. Build some confidence answering the questions you know first!
- Mark up the test booklet. Underline key phrases, cross out incorrect answers or use it as scratch paper. However, when you use the answer sheet, only mark the bubbles so the scoring machine doesn’t misread a random pencil mark.
- The ACT does not deduct points for incorrect answers or guessing, which means that any answer is better than no answer. However, the SAT does penalize you for wrong answers so it’s better to leave it blank if you don’t know the answer.
- Pace yourself on the questions and watch the clock so you are able to finish on time. If you finish early, use that time to check some of your answers and change them if you KNOW you answered them incorrectly.
What to do the night before the ACT or SAT
It’s too late to study the night before, so get your materials together, like pencils, your photo identification, watch, calculator and snacks. Thoroughly read and understand the directions for each section of the test, so you don’t use valuable time on testing day.
Get a good night of sleep and wake up so you have plenty of time to eat a good breakfast and get to the testing site without rushing. Then, when you arrive at the testing site, take a deep breath, and do your best. That’s all anyone can ask.