In this episode of The College Checklist Podcast, I share 5 of my favorite free ACT prep tips to help students achieve higher test scores.
As you either know or can probably guess, I am a fan of thorough ACT prep; however, sometimes you end up with less time than you’d hope for to prepare for the ACT.
If that’s happened to you, these 5 free ACT prep tips will help you boost your score quickly, but this is by no means an exhaustive list of everything you need to know in order to get your best score.
If you’re interested in taking a deeper dive and learning the ACT strategies that I use each and every test day, click here to learn more about my ACT prep courses. I would love to help you take you ACT score even higher.
But for now, relax and enjoy learning these 5 ACT tips that can help you kick your score up a notch on test day.
Listen Now: 5 Tips for Higher ACT Scores
Never Miss An Episode
Subscribing to the show is the easiest way to ensure that you won’t miss any of the great information our guests share! Subscribing is easy!
Click either of the buttons below to subscribe to The College Checklist Podcast on iTunes or Google Play. Or type “The College Checklist” directly into whichever app you use to listen to podcasts and hit the subscribe button!
About Lauren Gaggioli
Lauren Gaggioli is the founder of Higher Scores Test Prep and the host of The College Checklist Podcast. After graduating from New York University with a B.F.A. with Honors in Theater, Lauren moved to LA and began tutoring the SAT and ACT. She quickly fell in love – not with the exams, but with the feeling that she was helping students put their feet on a firm path towards a big, bright future.
After 7 years working as an in-home tutor, Lauren distilled her experiences into the test prep courses that are now available through Higher Scores Test Prep. Lauren’s love of teaching and compassion for what students are facing in today’s complex, competitive college admissions landscape allows her to bring a little bit of calm to her corner of the college admissions process.
An Overview of the ACT
The ACT is a 3 hour exam or 3.5 hour exam. Because the essay is “optional,” students can be done after 3 hours; however, I always recommend that students take the ACT essay.
The test is administered 6 times per academic year. Click here to see this year’s ACT test dates.
On the ACT, 4 subject areas are tested – English, Math, Reading, Science – always in that order.
Each subject area receives a score between 1 – 36 and those scores are then averaged to determine the ACT composite.
The average (50th percentile) ACT score hovers around a 21, but your best score is the one that gets you into college. Do your college research before testing so you have a firm goal to work towards.
5 Free ACT Prep Tips for Higher Scores
1. Accuracy > Speed
Is it better to answer 40 questions and get all of them right, or answer 60 questions and miss half of them? When we put it that way, of course the former is the better solution; however, the ACT sets a very tough finish line to cross. The timing is so challenging that students must reframe their goals and avoid the timing that ACT has set in place.
2. Brush up on comma rules.
For whatever reason, comma rules are the ones that most students have forgotten by the time they take the ACT. While other punctuation rules are tested, these are the questions that students seem to struggle with the most.
It’s important to note that the default on the ACT is no comma, but that – of course – won’t help you answer every question correctly. Get even more points (and avoid confusion) by brushing up on your comma rules.
3. All students should review SOH CAH TOA.
All students should either learn this principle or remind themselves of its simplicity. If you students are in accelerated math, they likely know too much and will over-complicate simpler questions. Students in a regular math track may never have learned these questions or haven’t seen them in a very long time.
Either way, these kinds of trig questions tend to be fairly systematic and predictable so they’re a good place to earn a few extra points.
4. Answer every question.
This does not mean work through every single question. Not even close! Because there is no guessing penalty on the ACT, you’ll want to take advantage of that fact by answering every question.
The trick is not spending any extra time on questions you cannot answer. If you’re totally lost, plop an answer choice and move on! For an added score bonus, always use the exact same answer choice (ex: B) so you can maximize your chances of answering the question correctly.
5. Take a timed practice exam and review that practice exam thoroughly.
You should never take a real exam as a practice test. It sets the level of importance of the test far too low in a student’s mind. You run the risk of being unpleasantly surprised by the outcome – an outcome that is official and may need to be reported when the student applies to college.
Further, thorough review is the best way to improve your ACT score in the future. Take the time to review the exam thoroughly before attempting another practice test.