Over the last 25 years, our ACT SUCCESS program has trained hundreds of thousands of students, raising their overall ACT composite scores by an average of 3 to 5 points. Score increases such as these lead to higher admission rates and stronger scholarship offers.
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Below are a just a few of our favorite strategies, hints, and tricks to improve your ACT score. Our ACT SUCCESS program provides all of the strategies and remediation needed for all students to achieve their personal A+!!!
The English Section
- Read one full paragraph at a time and then answer the corresponding questions. This allows you to understand the flow of the passage and correctly answer the transition and modifier questions.
- There is no penalty for guessing, so leave nothing blank! It is imperative to finish the English section (as well as all of the sections).
- Try to use about 9 minutes per passage. Remember, each passage has easy, medium, and difficult questions. Your job is to get as much right as possible, so making educated guesses on the truly difficult questions is a wise strategy.
- Avoid choosing answers using the word “being”. ACT prefers active voice; when they give the word “being” as a possible answer, it is almost always wrong because it is considered passive voice.
The Math Section
- Pace yourself wisely. For most students, this means using about 25 minutes for the first thirty questions and the remaining 35 minutes for the last thirty questions. Remember, this is the only section of the ACT where questions are mostly arranged in order of difficulty.
- Diagrams are almost always drawn to scale, even though ACT claims otherwise. Use this knowledge to your advantage to help estimate.
- Use logic first and math skills second. In other words, use your common sense to eliminate obviously wrong answers.
- Calculators are allowed; use your calculator when necessary.
The Reading Section
- Again, there is no penalty for guessing on the ACT. You need to get to all four reading passages. This means you should not spend too much time on any one question. You should take about 4 minutes to read the passage and about 5 minutes to answer the questions.
- Read the passage first, and then answer the questions. (DO NOT READ THE QUESTIONS FIRST; IT IS A MASSIVE WASTE OF TIME.)
- After reading the passage, attempt to answer the questions without looking back. In other words, read all four choices before looking back at the passage. Most likely, you will be able to eliminate a number of choices, saving you critical time!
- Complete the passages in the order they appear. You need to get to all four passages, so there is no point in doing your “favorite” passage first.
The Science Section
- Practice, practice, practice. The science section of the ACT is unlike any test you take in school. In order to be prepared, you must practice – a lot.
- The ACT does not test your science knowledge per se. It tests your ability to read, interpret, and analyze graphs, charts, and tables – based on science. Again, practice if you want to do well!
- Yes, you should read the small paragraphs in each science passage, but do so quickly. Most of the questions will refer back to the graphs, charts, and tables.
- You have 35 minutes to finish 40 questions. Be cognizant of your time and move steadily. Do not spend too much time on any one question.
The Essay Section
- The essay is optional but we encourage all students to take it. Many universities now request an essay score.
- The ACT essay is given as the last section. You will have 40 minutes to plan and write a coherent essay.
- You must use clear penmanship, correct grammar, and accurate punctuation. If your essay looks like a 3rd grader wrote it, you will be scored accordingly.
- Be sure to address all three points of view that ACT provides as well as strongly stating your side of the argument. Use solid, concrete examples to prove your point.