Top 10 ACT Tips You Need to Know!

March 12, 2015

Put together by one of our interns, Abby shares a few must-know tips about taking the ACT.

1. Answer every question

There is no penalty for getting the wrong answer, so you should attempt every single problem. Even guessing is better than leaving a question blank because then you at least have a chance of getting the question right.

2. Use Process of Elimination

You aren’t going to know every single answer to every question. Instead of getting to a tricky question and guessing randomly, use process of elimination to get rid of some of the choices. Narrow down your selection by crossing out answers that you know aren’t right. Even if you aren’t exactly sure which leftover answer is right, you will have a much greater chance of getting the question correct.

3. Come back to a hard question

If you are having trouble figuring out a question, go on and then come back to it at the end. A lot of times, taking a break from looking at it makes the answer much more obvious the second time around.

4. Pace yourself

You have a limited amount of time to finish each test, so you can’t spend too long on any one question. If you are taking a long time to come up with an answer, skip the problem and move on to the next.

5. Beware of obvious answers

Often, an answer is thrown in that seems like the obvious choice. These are meant to be misleading, so don’t fall for the trap. Read every answer choice to be sure that you are choosing the correct answer.

6. Go with your gut

Don’t go back and change your answer to a question unless you are certain it is wrong. Statistics show that your first guess is more often the correct choice.

7. Guess with the same letter

Not everyone can finish all of the questions for each test. If you don’t have enough time to read or work out anymore questions, and you have left a few blank, choose all of the same letter when filling in your guesses on the answer sheet. Statistics have shown this is the most effective way to get the most right answers when blindly guessing.

8. Practice

The best way to get good at anything is to practice as much as you can. There is an abundance of free programs where you can take practice tests, and many schools have ACT prep courses for students.

9. Mark in the test booklet

Use the test booklet as scratch paper, and not just for math. Underline main ideas in the reading section. Cross out answers you know aren’t right. Write down formulas. Draw diagrams. Fill in missing parts of figures. You can put anything down on the booklet, and a lot of times, writing extra information out helps you see the answer more clearly.

10. Relax

The best scores come from the most prepared students. Get a good night sleep, eat breakfast, bring all of the materials you need to the test, and stay positive. You do your best when feeling your best.

Reminder: The April ACT registration deadline is Friday, March 13th, with the late registration deadline on Friday, March 27th! If you think you are ready, don’t forget to register now!



Browse Successful Application Files

NU2018
Northwestern ‘18


Accepted to Northwestern, Emory, WashU, UMich

Hey everyone, I'm a current Northwestern student (Class of 2018, although I may finish up a little early) and I absolutely love it! Admissions really is a tough time, so try to keep your head up and don't be afraid to take chances.
mark_pino
UPenn ‘20


Accepted to UPenn

Hello! I'm a Freshman at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School. I plan on concentrating in finance, marketing and social impact. In high school I was active in LGBTQ advocacy and music. I can help with any questions you have about admissions
BrownDomer
Notre Dame ‘20


Accepted to BU, Emory, Swarthmore, Notre Dame

Hello! I'm an international student from Ethiopia and I'll be majoring in Biology. I'd love to share all the tips and tricks I've learned from my rather unique college application experience with you!
cjjo96
Barnard ‘18


Accepted to Barnard

Barnard '18 | My passions lie in education, psychology, and human rights, all from the lens of an African Studies major. My transcript and application were far from conventional, but neither am I.

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