How to score well on the ACT

by Giselle Berge

The ACT, a standardized test consisting of English, reading, mathematics and science sections, is used to measure college readiness. Because the test is a factor in college admissions decisions, a higher score increases your chance at gaining entrance into your dream collage. Being smart is no guarantee of scoring well on the exam. Even the brightest students take the time to prepare for the test long before test day. The better prepared you are for the test, the higher your score will be.

Familiarize yourself with the content of the ACT by visiting the official ACT website's Test Prep page (see References) and downloading a free copy of Preparing for the ACT. The 80-page document includes test-taking strategies and full-length practice exams.

Purchase an official ACT review guide several months before your scheduled exam and study it regularly. Avoid overwhelming yourself with too much information by gradually familiarizing yourself with each section. ACT prep guides are available for purchase from most major booksellers.

Take an ACT review course. Having an instructor review the material and explain the different portions of the exam can further reinforce your ongoing studies. Many ACT prep courses also offer timed practice tests, which can give you a sense of your strengths and weaknesses and better prepare you for the exam. Ask your guidance counselor for recommended ACT prep courses in your area.

Get plenty of sleep the night before the exam so your mind is fresh and rested. The official ACT website also recommends wearing comfortable clothes and dressing in layers in case of temperature changes in the test center. The idea is to be comfortable so you can focus on the exam.

Relax before you begin your exam by taking some deep breaths. The ACT test preparation booklet suggests thinking of pleasant things while tensing and relaxing your muscles. Repeat these or other stress-reducing techniques before each test section.


  • Do not stress over an exam question if you do not know the answer. Skip it and return to it later.
  • If you are not satisfied with your scores, you can retake the test. Visit the official ACT website for details.

About the Author

Giselle Berge has written professionally since 2003 and for Demand Studios since 2009, with numerous articles published on eHow. She specializes in travel, living and investing abroad and natural health and beauty. She received a Certifcat de Langue Fran├žaise from Paris-Sorbonne IV in 2005, and also studied in Italy at the Universita' per Stranieri di Perugia.

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