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Acing The ACT

The official ACT test study guide will tell you what you're supposed to know before you walk into the exam room. It will sum up the content and explain the formats of the questions. You should certainly be familiar with it.

What the guide won't tell you though is how to ace the ACT when you aren't sure of the answer. That isn't because you can't do it; it's because they don't want you to know how to do it.

Ways To Ace The ACT

1. Tips for English Section
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  • Pace Youself - just like all the other sections, pacing yourself here is important. With 75 questions to be completed in 45 minutes, it's recommended you spend about a 90 seconds skimming through a passage before you start on the questions. This will leave you with 30 seconds to answer each of the questions.
  • Carefully examine the underlined phrases - It is key to examine an underlined portion type question before making a quick decision. The topics and writing style for each of the five passages on the test can vary to a large degree. Some questions will ask what will least likely be the best answer for an underlined portion.
  • Differences in answer choices - Many questions on the test will involve more than just one element of writing. Be cautious when selecting an answer which corrects one aspect, but at the same time causes a separate error.
2. Math Section
  • Pace yourself - There's 60 questions, and 60 minutes to complete them all. It's strongly advised not to spend more than 1 minute per question. If possible, spend less than 1 minute on each question, and use the remaining time at the end to review your work and return to the more difficult questions.
  • Use your calculator wisely - If you use a calculator, keep in mind that all of the math problems can be solved without using one. Use good judgment to decide when and when not to use a calculator. Sometimes, it may make more sense to you to use scratch paper to clear your thoughts before you start crunching numbers electronically.
  • Be sure to answer the question - Many question on the math section require multiple steps of calculations. Often times there will be answer choices which are based on incomplete solutions.
  • Check your answers - If there is time after you've answered all the questions, it is a must re-read the questions and check your answers to make sure they are correct.
3. Reading Section
  • Pace yourself - There are 40 questions, and 35 minutes to complete them. Try to spend about 2-3 minutes reading each passage, and that will leave at least 35 seconds to answer each question. It's always a good idea to plan to have extra time at the end of the test in order to go back and review your work and return to the more difficult questions.
  • Read carefully - Try not to skim, you are given enough time to read the passage in its entirety. While reading, try and make connections between different ideas in the text. Feel free to make notes on important ideas in the passage either on the test booklet or on scratch paper.
  • Refer back to the passage when answering questions - Since some questions are taken directly from the text, it is very important to refer to the passage before you answer any question. Other questions will require you to draw conclusions and determine implicit meanings from the text.
4. Science Section
  • Pace yourself - There are 40 questions to be answered in 35 minutes. Ideally, spend about 30 seconds on each question; this gives you ample time to review your work and return to more difficult questions.
  • Read carefully - Before reading the questions, make sure you read the scientific material. It's perfectly fine to jot down important notes and ideas on the test booklet or provided scratch paper.
  • Opposing viewpoints - Some questions present you with multiple viewpoints, and ask for you to distinguish among these different viewpoints. It is very helpful to jot down short notes about each viewpoint, so you can easily look back and compare.
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