For most students, the challenge of the ACT is time management more than the content of the questions. It’s a fast-paced test and difficult to address all of the questions in the allotted time. Try using a few of these tips on your next ACT:
Focus on answering questions correctly rather than worrying about finishing the test.
Think about your goal score on the ACT. If you are currently scoring in the low 20’s in math and your goal score is the high 20’s, you would need to answer about 45-50 out of 60 questions correctly on the math section. It’s better to take time to answer the earlier questions correctly than to rush to the end, make simple mistakes along the way, and still not answer the last few questions correctly.
Always answer every question.
There is no penalty for answering a question incorrectly on the ACT so be sure to put an answer down for every question even if it is a blind guess. If you are at the end of the test with 10 questions remaining and only 1 minute on the clock, bubble in a row of B’s (or whichever letter is your favorite).
When blind guessing, choose the same answer for every question. You will likely still get about 20% of the questions correct.
Capitalize on your strengths.
Remember that all questions are worth the same amount. If you are struggling on a question, skip it and return later if there is time. On the reading section, this may mean reading the passages out of order to save your most challenging passage for last. For example, if you tend to do better on non-fiction passages, you may want to read the natural science passage (passage #4) before the prose fiction passage (passage #1) in order to maximize your points.
Get savvy about which questions are least time consuming for you.
If you are running low on time, you want to answer as many questions as possible. This means you may need to determine which questions are easiest for you specifically. For example, on math, your strength may be geometry. If you have 10 questions remaining, it may be worth guessing on a lengthy word problem and using the time on a problem with a diagram where you are more likely to pick up the point.
On reading, it is often most time consuming to answer questions that say “EXCEPT” or ask about the overall purpose of a passage, as these require fully reading the entire passage. However, questions that ask about the meaning of a word in context are generally the least time consuming to answer. If running low on time, look out for those questions to grab a few extra points.
I know, I know. Easier said than done, right? But, if you are focused on the clock and feeling your anxiety rise, you won’t be able to answer questions as well as you could if you were relaxed. Take a few deep breaths, say a positive mantra, and do the best you can with your remaining time.
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