ACT test prep will probably be the most important practice you will do for an exam in your high school career. And I know you’re feeling the pressure to perform! What I find with many of my students is that while they know they need to participate in ACT test prep, they don’t always know where to start or how to make the most of it. So if you’re finding yourself in the same situation, keep reading, because I’m going to show you some easy tips and tricks you can use today to boost your score.
What Do You Need for Successful ACT Test Prep?
Let’s start with the basics. There are tools you’re going to need to get the most out of your ACT test prep. Below, I’ve listed some of my favorite suggestions for my students:
- a quiet place to study with limited distractions
- practice tests, either printed from online or taken from a book
- a tutor with a high score to help guide you
- time set aside specifically to study
- a timer
- a notebook
Nothing too crazy on the list, right? These are just the tangible things you need for a solid ACT test prep practice. Additional things you need to bring to the table are dedication and a strong work ethic. If you want to take home a high, competitive score from the ACT then you will need to work hard to earn it. I even encourage my students to create a vision board and keep it near their study space so that when they get tired or don’t feel like studying anymore; they can look at it and be reminded of why preparing for college is so important. Keep pictures of the colleges you want to go to, people you admire and the number 36 on it.
How to Do Top Notch ACT Test Prep
In addition to the test prep you do with your tutor, you do need to do ACT test prep on your own time. But there’s more to it than just going through practice test after practice test and calling it a day. I want to let you in on a secret: you can take a million practice tests and still not improve your score. It’s not just about how many times you take practice tests, it’s about how well you take these practice tests and what you learn from them.
Here’s how to get the most out of your practice tests for your ACT test prep.
Be Your Own Toughest Critic
This does not mean I’m encouraging you to beat yourself up for getting a question wrong on a practice test or berating yourself for not studying that day. I want you to apply this solely to when you get a question wrong on your prep. That means not making excuses when you get a question wrong and breaking apart why you got the question wrong in the first place.
Keep Track of the Questions You Struggle With
When you’re doing your ACT test prep, be sure to mark the questions you feel uncertain about or don’t know how to answer. This way when you go back to do test corrections, you can see if it was nerves or not. When you get to each question you missed, write out the question in your notebook, the answer you gave, and the correct answer. This will help you see patterns as you continue with your ACT test prep and help you see which areas of the test or questions you need to focus on more.
Use the 5 Whys Method
In addition to writing out the questions you got wrong in the notebook, I also encourage you to use something called the 5 Whys method to look at why you missed certain questions. Essentially, you ask yourself why and answer five times. But you have to answer honestly each time you approach it, especially if you don’t like the answer you get each time. This is used to help you get to the root of the issue you’re having so you can solve it. I like to get all of my students into this, because it helps you study better in the long run.
Have a Dedicated Time and Space
I know your weeks are packed with school, homework, extracurricular activities, and sleep, but you do need to have time and space set aside for your ACT test prep. This will help keep you from blowing it off and cramming until the very end. By making studying for the ACT part of your daily schedule, you’re able to practice in small increments and it will seem less
Communicate with Your Tutor
Remember you’re not in this alone! So if you’re struggling or feeling stuck with your private ACT test prep, be sure to discuss your findings with your tutor. Ask questions; see if they have any ideas that might help you with that section. Sometimes a fresh set of eyes on a problem can make all the difference. They've been in your shoes before
Remember to Breathe
Yes, the ACT is an important test, but don’t psych yourself out. You can always retake it; in fact most students who take standardized tests will re-take them more than once. So don’t worry if your first test score isn’t where you want it to be, because you can always retake it. Staying calm, but focused while you’re practicing means you can easily do the same when it’s time for you to sit down for the real test.
Doing ACT test prep with your tutor and on your own time are two important ways to improve your score. Making sure you do quality test prep is just as important as how much test prep you do. Follow some of the tips I’ve given you here and you’ll be on your way to a better score on the ACT.
Do you have any questions about taking the ACT? Feeling stumped as to where to begin with your practice test? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below!