5 ways to improve your ACT score


Angie Perry, Staff Writer

With college application deadlines just around the corner, brows furrow with sweat as seniors cram to better their ACT score in time to apply to their desired schools. Senior year always sounds like a blast, but the fall months beginning the school year pose a rude awakening for seniors as they find themselves drowning in the anguish of maintaining grades, extracurriculars, jobs and all the other things associated with being a student, while also trying to navigate through and perfect college applications.

A determining factor of admissions is obtaining a competitive ACT score, which for some comes naturally, yet for most remains a stressful, time-consuming task. The ACT is designed to be doable for anyone, as long as you know how to decipher the complex questions. Knowing that a test has the ability to determine your future is daunting. However, here are some helpful tactics to lighten the stress of the upcoming ACT:

  1. Time is Money: Known as a very time-intensive test, it is important to acquaint yourself with the test directions before test day. Cramming to finish all questions in the allotted time and getting stuck on hard ones can be really stressful and distracting; it’s important to save as much time as possible while you’re taking the test. It has been instilled upon us throughout the years to always read directions first, therefore seems ill-advised not to, but you’ll find it saves a lot of unnecessary time wasted on the ACT, leaving you more time per problem.
  2. Practice Makes Permanent: Not perfect. Permanent. The way you practice is paramount to how you perform. This is true in all aspects, so when it comes to studying for the big test, how you practice is really important. If you are hoping to hone in on your skills and substantially improve your score, it takes true desire and determination. The best way to practice for the ACT is taking official practice tests. If you practice using other tests, they may provide different types of questions not in the ACT format. To become familiar with the content and context of the ACT questions and help you better understand areas that you need brushing up on, taking and retaking official practice versions of the ACT is key. This will help you educate yourself on weak areas, as well as make you more comfortable approaching the unique question styles found on the test.
  3. No Excuses: If you really want it, you have to work for it. Motivate yourself with your dream school. The ACT is not an easy test to “ace” without studying, so it is important to take this into account. As you study, it is imperative to set aside time and approach questions with a no-excuse mentality. Don’t let wrong answers go unattended. Allowing yourself to make excuses for getting questions wrong instead of perfecting your mistakes will not improve your knowledge of the content, or your score.  Setting aside time for the ACT with and excuse-free attitude is crucial to your score, since studying takes time. It may require a couple weeks of social sacrifice, but for a test that potentially determines your future, the priority is high. The ACT can account for 40-70 percent of your admission consideration, according to ACT experts of prepscholar.com. Therefore, a mentality free of excuses is crucial when cracking down on ACT skills.
  4. Find Your Weaknesses: People who learn to capitalize on and learn from their weaknesses tend to be some of the most successful. Similarly, on the ACT, if you continue to focus on perfecting what you know while avoiding your mistakes, you won’t improve in your weaker subjects. Therefore, cracking down on your less-practiced topics, rather than attempting to perfect what you already excel at, allows you to round out and improve your overall score.
  5. And finally, chill: Don’t get inside your own head during the test. If you find yourself taking too long on a question, don’t freak yourself out about it, but simply skip and revisit it at the end of the test. Every question is worth the same amount of points, so it is better to tackle the easy problems first. However, don’t leave questions blank. Since the ACT does not penalize for wrong answers, it is better to guess. Remain calm and confident in your ability and don’t sweat the small stuff. With this, you will do just fine, and finish each section in good time. If you have leftover time, go back and check or fill in blank answers, as well as to complete questions you may have skipped.

Though the ACT poses concepts you may not find yourself using in everyday life, the process helps you develop important study skills, as well as learn about your own ambitions and limitations. Overall, how thoroughly you prepare yourself for situations such as the ACT is a crucial part of life, and with adequate planning, practice and discipline, success is achievable.