How to Prepare for ACT? 10 Handy Tips to Ace the ACT

Updated: May 2

American College Testing (ACT) was first introduced in 1959. Like the SAT, it is a standardized test conducted to assess a student’s academic readiness to join colleges and universities. Most high school students take the ACT to gain admission into top colleges. The ACT exam is conducted by a non-profit organization of the same name. If you are learning about it for the first time, let’s quickly acquaint you with the basics of ACT before proceeding to the main part - How to prepare for ACT?

ACT preparation tips

What subjects are on the ACT?

ACT sections include English, Math, Reading and Science plus an optional Writing section. You can go on to attempt the Writing section if the college you are seeking admission to insists on submitting writing scores.

How long is the ACT?

The ACT exam lasts for 2 hours and 55 minutes. You will be given an additional 40 minutes if you have opted for the optional writing section. Here is the breakdown of time allotment for each section:

English - 45 minutes

Math - 60 minutes

Reading - 35 minutes

Science - 35 minutes

Writing (optional) - 40 minutes

What is a good ACT score?

The higher your ACT score, the better are your chances of getting admission in top colleges. The highest score for ACT is 36 points. Any score higher than 24 can be considered a good score whereas scores above 32 would qualify as excellent scores.

How many times can you take the ACT exam?

You can take the ACT exam up to 12 times. Most students retake the test to improve their scores. But it is recommended that you prepare well and improve the scores with just 2-3 attempts.

How to prepare for the ACT?

After understanding the basics of the ACT exam, there might be many questions floating in your head about how to get started with the preparations. To answer your questions, we have listed 10 effective ACT preparation tips that will help you earn higher scores. Students may find ACT challenging owing to a variety of factors including time constraints, tough math concepts and the need to have good command over language. But that doesn’t mean earning good scores is an unattainable goal. Let’s delve deeper into the 10 crucial steps to ace the ACT exam.

1. Become familiar with ACT structure and format

Once you have made up your mind to appear for the ACT, you have to understand the exam structure and format. The exam is based on multiple choice questions (MCQs) and you should practice accordingly. The English section will have 75 questions, the Math section will have 60 questions and the Reading and Science sections will have 40 questions each. The Writing section will have only one question which needs to be answered in an essay format.

For all the compulsory sections, you will have 4 answer choices except for math which will have 5 answer choices. You can prepare and score well only if you are familiar with the test format. Concepts learned and knowledge amassed will be of little use if you have prepared without taking the test format into account. Each section will be scored out of 36 points and the average of all 4 compulsory sections would make for the composite score.

2. Get thorough with the content and question styles

Once you know the sections and the test format, it is time to delve deeper into the nature of questions. What type of questions should you expect in each section? The ACT exam tests different skills in each section and knowing exactly what skills will be tested is integral to achieve the perfect score.

The Math section will have questions