How to Prepare for the ACT

High school students preparing for the ACT need to plan for adequate study time and multiple test dates. By becoming familiar with the format and learning to take the test in the time allotted, you can increase the chances that your studying will contribute to a good score.

Register for the Exam

Register for an ACT date during the second semester of your junior year. Study for this test date, but if you’re not happy with your score, you can register for an early test date during the first semester of your senior year.

That leaves you with time over the summer to study, when you don’t have school in the way. You can register once more, late during your first senior semester if you still want a better score.

Get Study Materials

Find an ACT study booklet at a bookstore or the library. Register for online tutoring, practice tests, and study guides, if you prefer. You can also discuss study options with your guidance counselor. School tutors or after-school test prep classes might be available. The school library might also have study books you can borrow.

Familiarize Yourself With the Test Format

To become familiar with the format and structure of the ACT, you’ll need to take a few practice exams. Each section has different question styles, along with testing different knowledge. That means you should spend time studying how to answer those various types of questions, as well as studying the information likely to be on the test.

For example, you can learn a strategy for getting through multiple choice questions when you’re unsure of the answer, and teach yourself to take the test at the right pace.

Create a Study Schedule

Most students allow for three months of study before the exam. The reason? You’ve got other stuff going on, and you want to create a doable study schedule. If you can study for 30 minutes five or six days a week, that’s better than a single four-hour cramming session once a week.

Spread your studying out, so you’re less likely to become exhausted or frustrated with the material. You’ll retain things better if you take it in small bursts, leaving you with time to get your other academic work done.

Ready Yourself for Test Day

Another benefit of studying for months instead of weeks is you get to relax in the days before test day. Do a little bit of review, but focus mostly on your own wellness. Get adequate sleep, eat healthful foods, and get some exercise. Allow your brain the chance to relax and process everything you’ve learned.

Go into the testing center feeling calm, not stressed, because you prepared well and took care of yourself. The night before the ACT is not the time for cramming.

Remember that, like the SAT, the ACT follows a format, and with practice, you can get better at tackling that format. Learn the strategies as you’re studying the information for a better chance at the scores you want.