10 Tips for the ACT


Claire Capelli

Junior Laura Smith studies for the ACT

Emily Smith and Caroleina Hassett

For all high school students, especially juniors and seniors, the ACT can be a daunting task. However, with the right mindset, fuel, and organization, you, too, can conquer the ACT. Here are ten tips to get you through it:

You will need to do some things to prepare before the actual test date. These will get you in the right mindset and ready to take on the day.

  1. Register. You will need to register online for the test. Depending whether or not you have an existing account, this could take fifteen minutes to an hour. The website will ask you questions about college and it is important to answer as candidly as possible. However, if you don’t know your major, don’t stress about it. The ACT simply wants to lead you in the right direction. Additionally, this registration will create a ticket that will admit you to the test. You will also have the opportunity to sign up for the answers to the ACT after you get your results back. This gives you an opportunity to study the questions you got wrong and try to improve your score the next time you take it!
  2. Practice. There are plenty of ways to practice for the ACT. From tutors to classes to online tests, the options are endless! Practicing is a great way to prepare for the test. It will allow you to know your pace and how much time you will need for each test. Narrowing down specific subjects that aren’t your best also can help a lot. For example, if you struggle a lot with math, finding a math tutor specifically for ACT math problems can help you out. You can focus all of your time on that specific subject.
  3. Acquire your materials. It is important to have your materials ready to go, so you can leave the house feeling confident, prepared, and not in a rush. You will need two to three sharpened No. 2 pencils (no pens or mechanical pencils), a current photo ID (usually a driver’s license), an approved calculator, and your admission ticket (see number one). Bringing your ticket is very important because it has specific information that you need to fill out on the ACT answer document. For example, your admission ticket will tell you if you are taking the writing portion of the test or not. If you do not have this information from your ticket, your scores could be delayed. Therefore, it may be helpful to print out multiple copies of your ticket. Also, it is optional to bring a snack or water to eat or drink during the break.

The test day: these steps are very important to stay healthy and be ready for the test.

  1. Get a good night’s sleep. It is important to get good sleep for the test. It’ll help your brain focus and access memory. To get a good night’s sleep, put electronics away at least an hour before bed. Do some yoga or read a book, but try to avoid screens. Cramming until late the night before does not work in your favor as much as you’d think, so put all materials away at least a couple hours before bed. Also, make sure your sleep environment follows these three C’s: cool, comfortable, and calm. Waking up exhausted will only make you dread the test more and not perform your best. Finally, remember to be calm and know that you can do it.
  2. Don’t forget to eat a good breakfast. The test day can cause anxiety, which might lead to loss of appetite. However, it’s essential to eat a good breakfast. For any Starbucks’ fans, pre-ordering is the way to go. By pre-ordering, you get to skip the line so you know you will be on time for the test. Make sure to eat something healthy to put substance in your stomach and to energize you. Coffee can help awaken you, but if you do not normally drink it, it can increase test anxiety. For all of the non-coffee drinkers,water is important to stay hydrated. However, a small glass of orange juice can help your brain get in gear to start testing.
  3. Plug in the directions of your test center into your phone. This is especially important if you have never been to your test center or do not know where it is located. Get there at least ten minutes before 8:00 AM. Also, it would not hurt to call the place beforehand if you know absolutely nothing about the location. They might be able to tell you more details about parking, classrooms, etc.
  4. Listen to all directions. Sometimes, the moderators will have directions or lines for you to be in. For example, the line for the regular ACT and the line for ACT plus writing are different. It is important to be in the right line and make sure you are marking the correct boxes.
  5. Locate and use bathroom (if needed). It is a long test with minimal breaks. There is a break in between the math and reading tests, but it usually only ten minutes. You will not be permitted to leave during the test, so take advantage of the opportunity before the test starts.  
  6. Stretch. Do a couple small stretches, like touching your chin to your left shoulder, then to your right. This will increase blood flow, wake you up, and start your focus. Another pose proven to increases confidence is the “Wonder Woman power pose” introduced by psychologist Amy Cuddy. Stand with your feet shoulder length apart, hands on hips, and shoulders back. You will instantly feel more confident and relaxed.
  7. Go in with confidence. It is important having the right attitude when approaching this test. If you go into the test saying to yourself that you are not going to do well, then it can affect your performance on the test. Instead go into the test saying to yourself that you are prepared and that you believe in yourself. Also, try not to focus on a question for too long; when you pick an answer, be confident and move on. Don’t contemplate if your answer was wrong or not. Simply being calm and feeling prepared will carry you throughout the test. Try to answer every question on the test, even if those answers are educated guesses.
  8. BONUS TIP: Breathe. Take a deep breath. You are capable and can do it.   

After following these steps, tips, and tricks, you will be more than ready to conquer the ACT.