Taking an exam usually creates some level of stress or anxiety, but taking an important exam like the ACT or SAT that can determine your future college path can make you feel even more anxious. Don’t worry—we’re here to equip you with seven test-taking strategies to help you feel confident going into test day.
Create a study plan instead of cramming for the exam.
Preparing to achieve a high score on the ACT is not a race to memorize facts, figures, and formulas between now and test day. The test is designed to measure your ability to process, analyze, and apply real-world information in a variety of practical applications, along with knowledge you’ve learned during your academic career. It’s testing to see if you possess the everyday tools you’ll need to succeed in college. Cramming will only leave you feeling tired and frustrated.
Practice under test-like conditions.
An effective way to prepare for the exam is to take practice tests that simulate the actual exam. Peterson’s ACT practice tests recreate the actual timed testing conditions for each section of the exam. Taking practice tests in a distraction-free environment and completing each section in the time allotted will help you know exactly what to expect on test day.
Identify areas of strength and weaknesses.
Throughout your test prep, be aware of the subjects where you excel and those where you need a little help. Maintain a study schedule that focuses on areas where improvement is needed. Sometimes your study time will evolve as you master different sections of the exam.
Answer every question.
Since there are no penalties for wrong answers, make sure not to leave any questions blank. While educated guesses are best, even a completely random guess is better than leaving the question blank.
Build an effective test-taking pace.
The ACT contains multiple timed sections (math, science, reading, English, and writing). You’ll need to become comfortable with the format and timing of the exam in order to complete it before the clock runs out. Establish a good test-taking pace before test day by taking practice tests that simulate the actual exam with timed conditions.
Avoid falling for trick answers.
When tackling difficult test questions, be aware of trick answer choices—those that look like the correct answer, but are designed to confuse you. Being on the lookout and expecting these answer options is the first step toward avoiding them.
Don’t get hung up on one question.
While confronting a difficult question, don’t let it slow you down or derail you from your pace. Either make an educated guess and move on or make a note to revisit the question after completing the remaining questions in the test section. You don’t want to lose guaranteed points on an easy question you ran out of time to answer because you spent too much time on a difficult question.
Putting these strategies into practice while preparing for the ACT exam will help you achieve confidence and success for test day.
Need help preparing for the ACT? Learn these and other test-taking tips by checking out our ACT test prep and get access to online courses, practice tests, and flashcards to help you get ready for the exam.