Yocket Undergrad
on 25 May, 2016

Preparation for ACT - Steps and Timeline

The key to be ready for ACT like any other test is to start early.

Step 1: Keeping a date in mind

We are not saying to go book a date for the ACT straight away but you need to do it at some point right? Keeping a time goal in mind is very important. Deciding that you want to give the ACT in November means you start preparing in such a way that by November you’re more than ready. If you’re still unsure by early October that you’ll need more than a month, choose the December date. Don’t keep delaying though! It is important you think of all your other commitments when making this decision.

Now that we have to be ready by a certain day, how do we start preparing for the ACT?


Step 2: Take a Full-Length ACT Test at 9 AM.

Most of us first want to know where to start. The way to do that is taking a full length ACT test. There are several tests available online but the most reliable ones are those tests created and endorsed by ACT itself.

Why take a test? Truth be told, most of the English and Math syllabus of the ACT has been taught to you at some point in your school life. It is just the matter of seeing how much you can recall. The Science is all about your deduction and analysis so you need to see where you stand in those aspects. Also the ACT is all about working under time pressure. It is important to see if you’re breezing through certain sections or leaving out 10 questions in another because of time. Don’t be scared of performing under par in this test. At this stage it is most important to recognize places that you need to improve.


Step 3: Start Practicing!

For English and Reading: Well there’s no escaping it, you have to read. Reading a book will give you so much insight about what authors say outright and what authors wish the readers to interpret in their own ways. It will also automatically improve your grammar! When you read books and then read ACT sentences with errors, the errors will pop out to you. You’ll immediately know what sounds right and what doesn’t! This may be a pain for some but getting through the ACT requires you to improve your knowledge of the English Language.

When you work with these sections, the most common issue is time. Learn also how to speed read through passages while still understanding the meaning of the passage, what is happening in the passage and identifying errors in the passage.

For Math: Practice! There’s no two ways about it! You can go over the concepts as much as you want but the problems that most people endure is making a few mistakes in each section because the question tricked them. The ACT Math sections are designed to test your grasp of mathematical concept and your problem solving skills. They will try tricking you as well though not as often as the SAT Math sections will. With enough practice of ACT Math Questions you slowly realize how the questions are portrayed and how they will be presented in the future. Once you see through that, you’re on your way to a 36!

For Science: This name is actually misleading. The name “Science” implies that it will test the knowledge of Physics, Chemistry, Biology and the Earth Sciences. The truth is that in this section, only your analyzing, data reading and problem-solving skills are really tested. All the answers are usually present in the information and data provided. The skill tested is whether or not you can find said answers. Treat the Science section as you would the Math section. The only way to conquer this section, is practice!


Step 4: Keep taking Full length tests! Correct them yourself!

Once or twice a week at least, take a full-length ACT test. As much as you can, mimic the environment where you will be taking the test. That means no 1 hour TV breaks, no full meals in between and definitely no talking to anyone in those 3+ hours. Once you’re done with each of your tests, take a break and then go correct them.


Students often think, “Oh I was guessing between my option and this one. I’ll get it right late”> NO. Find out why you could not narrow it down further and get it correct. If you’re getting a certain type of question wrong, remember it and mark it down for practice. If you made “stupid” mistakes in Math or Writing (sections of ACT) due to a lapse in concentration, make sure you know how to stay fresh throughout a section. This is why it is crucial to practice in an environment like the ACT test center. Sit don’t lie down. On a chair not a beanbag. Solve it on a table alone, not in a room full of people talking.

A month to the ACT…

You should have quite a few Vocabulary words learnt and maybe 4-5 full Tests under your belt. This is the final push. You’ve been sticking to schedule and should stay on path. Keep taking mock tests and keep reading and practicing Math.

If you notice you’re weaker in a certain section (Let’s say Critical Reading), you should, apart from Full Length Tests, practice just those ACT sections from other tests as well. There are specific books which cater to each individual section if the ACT so you can access those as well.

A week before the ACT…

You should feel ready by now. You should be using the Vocabulary words in daily conversations, you make only a few if any mistakes in the tests and so forth! Keep up the pressure and do not panic!

Even if you still feel unprepared, keep practicing! Ask your friends who are taking it with you for tips if you think that will help. Taking stress never helped anyone.

The night before…

I recommend a good night’s sleep. You’ve been preparing for a while now and tomorrow you should be at your best. You shouldn’t be drowsy or else you will ruin more than a month of prep. Stay relaxed, have a good breakfast the next morning and Best of luck!


Wait what about the Essay?!

Ahh so this is where it get tricky. You cannot correct your own essay. Ask your school’s English teacher or anyone who you know is proficient at the English Language and can be unbiased. The first aspect of Essay Prep is making sure you can write a 2-page essay with an Introduction, Body and Conclusion in the time restriction.

For ACT takers. Try finishing the essay in 35 minutes, the last 5 minutes can be used to check for mistakes in spelling and grammar. In the ACT the skill to learn is how to effectively compare perceptions. Your perception must be completely separate on the issue than the three presented to you. You should compare each component of your perception with the corresponding component of the provided perception. Remember you are not scored on your perception but just how you compare the perceptions.



What to do...


Time to Exam Weekdays Weekends
2 MONTH Start reading the newspaper and maybe pick up a few books! That’s how you start small for the English and Reading sections! For the Math section you can start by reviewing concepts you learnt a few years ago. Your Science deduction skills can be worked on by reading graphs and tables. Do a full length practice test on Saturdays! Correct them on Sundays and work on you weakest section in the next week.
You probably have school during the week. If you do, I’d do the sections you feel you’re weak in for practice. Practice one section for 2-3 days straight and correct your own sections. Try making sure you can do sections in time. Full tests on both Saturday and Sunday. Solve these tests at 8 am as the test would. Correct each test and work on your lowest sections in the next week.
2 WEEK With two weeks left you need to try putting in more effort in the week. Try solving full tests in the evenings. If you cannot solve a full test, at least solve consecutive sections. Make sure you are increasing your correctness. You can probably do multiple sections over the weekend. Make sure you take an 8 am full test and then work on other sections in the evening on each day.
1 WEEK Now you should be pretty well prepared so this week do not do anything too heavy. Make sure you’re up to date with school work and work on your sections in the evening. Do full length tests if you still feel you want practice. The weekend before the ACT is most important. Make sure you make the most of it by spending time on full length tests and corrections. You can do full length tests in the evening as well.
Few hours Get some rest! A full night’s sleep is the most important.

Saturday is your Exam!


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Yocket helps Indian students prepare for undergrad admissions in US

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