Tips and Tricks for Each ACT Section


Posted by Sanjana Viswanathan

November 27, 2019 at 2:30 PM

ACT Tips and Tricks Review Test Prep

ACT English Tips

1: Choose the Most Concise Answer

ACT English questions tend to test grammar rules and sentence structure in the most straightforward, logical way. So try to find the choice that provides all of the necessary information for the sentence to make grammatical sense…and nothing extra. The main goal of this is for the sentence to be clear and concise while being grammatically correct! One of our Prepmedians videos One KISS Is All It Takes covers this exact rule in more detail!

2: Be Careful With “No Change” Answers

Almost all the grammar questions have the option of “No Change.” This is a dangerous choice because if you aren’t aware of more obscure grammar rules, you might be tempted to choose it even when the sentence can be fixed. It is really important to double-check all other answers before settling on “No Change” as the correct choice. The best way to check all the options is to read the sentence with each option and decide. But “No Change” really is the correct answer around ~25% of the time, so don’t second-guess yourself if you are sure there isn’t an error. There are more strategies that can be found at prepmedians.com

ACT Math Tips

3: Pay Attention to Diagrams

A lot of math questions tend to be accompanied with diagrams. It’s important to pay attention to these figures, as they tend to summarize all the details of the question while giving clues about which answer choices are the most logical. If a problem asks you to figure out an angle, for example, and some of the choices are acute while others are obtuse, you will be able to eliminate at least a couple of these answers just by looking at the diagram because they are drawn to scale (unless otherwise noted). If an answer is not supported by the diagram, it’s usually safe to cross it out. Even when diagrams are not part of the questions, you will be able to draw diagrams by yourself based on the details.

4: Plug In Answers and Numbers

If a question asks you to solve for x, simply plug each answer choice back into the original equation and see which one works. This will tell you which answer choice is the correct one without having to really solve the problem! For numbers, you’ll choose random numbers to plug into algebraic variables. This strategy lets you analyze the problem using real numbers instead of unknowns, and works best for questions with multiple variables. This could be useful when you are looking at the range of a function or inequalities.

When solving really obvious questions, these strategies might slow you down instead of helping. So make sure you don’t waste your time using this strategy in questions you already know the answer for!

ACT Reading Tips

5: Start With Your Strengths

The ACT Reading section is always structured the same way with four topic areas in the same order. Each topic corresponds to a passage or pair of passages. - Prose fiction/literary narrative - Social science - Humanities - Natural science

If you have already taken practice tests and know the order of efficiency within the topics, start by reading the passage that correspond to the topic area in which you are most comfortable. The main purpose of this is to start with the topic you are able to read fast and analyze so you are not giving yourself a chance to get questions for that passage wrong. This way, you can get the questions that are easiest for you out of the way first and won’t risk running out of time before you have a chance to answer others.

6: Skim Passages

For some students, it might be manageable to read passages normally and still have enough time to finish the section, but you have to be a really quick and thorough reader in order to pull this off. The best strategy for most people is to skim the passages instead. In order to skim effectively, read the introduction and conclusion paragraphs as well as the first and last sentences of every body paragraph. This will give you a good overview of the main ideas and allow you to answer most questions. When you get to detail questions, you can then reread specific parts of the passage if necessary.

ACT Science Tips

7: Do the Conflicting Viewpoints Section Last

The conflicting viewpoints passage on ACT Science is usually the most time consuming for students. In case you’re not familiar with it, this part of the section asks you to read two or three passages that detail different viewpoints on a scientific issue. You’ll then answer questions about these viewpoints and how they relate to one another. Since this is more reading-intensive and can eat up a lot of time, it’s best to save this part for last so that you don’t end up missing other questions in the section that will be quicker and easier for you to answer.

8: Rely On Visuals

The ACT Science section has a lot of unfamiliar terminology and facts that make it seem overwhelming. The best way to attack those passages is to ignore the unfamiliar terms and go straight for the graphs, which should provide enough information for you to answer the majority of the questions you’re faced with. Most of the information you’re given is just extra stuff thrown in there to make this section seem more difficult than it really is. In reality, the science section is more about logical reasoning and data interpretation than it is about actually knowing any science. As long as you can read the graphs, you’ll be fine!

Find out more detailed tips and strategies that can be used to excel in the test at Prepmedians

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Posted by Sanjana Viswanathan

Sanjana scored in the 99th percentile on the ACT/SAT in high school and is currently studying Economics and Astrophysics at the University of Chicago. Fun Fact: I slipped and fell in my college campus 3 times within a day. (I really lack motor skills)