How to Improve your Score on the Act Test

The ACT is comprised of four parts:

1) Math
2) Writing
3) Reading
4) Science

Each is difficult in its own respect. We’ll go through each section to explore how you can improve your ACT score.

1) Math

This section is the longest and the first. There are 60 questions, and the first 30 are very easy. At the very most, you should take 20 minutes to complete these. Spend 25 minutes on the next 20, as these are the “middle difficulty” problems. Save 15 minutes or more for the last 10 problems, as these are typically the hardest of the bunch. To really seperate yourself from the average, you need to perform well on these last 10 problems. To do just that, study intermediate algebra (systems of equations, power equations, exponential equations), trigonometric identities, and intermediate geometry. This will improve your math score greatly. Don’t worry about going back to check your answers. If you did the problems correctly, you should have no more than 3-5 minutes at the end. Spend this time preparing mentally for the writing (grammar) section.

2) Writing

Go with your gut feeling. When answering the questions about grammar, usually what sounds right is right. Major mix-ups happen when comparing the verbs ‘lay’ and ‘lie.’ Also, knowing the difference between ‘little’ and ‘few’ is essential. Do not put verbs in awkward places, and do not overthink the questions.

3) Reading

This section is hard to manage. There are 4 long passages, and only a little time to read them and answer a lot of questions about them. The questions go in the order of the essay, so as you read, answer questions. Spend no more than 10 minutes on a passage, as you only have 35 to complete this section. The key here is to scan for major clues (topic sentences – the first sentence of a paragraph) and to answerr quickly. The questions are not hard; what’s hard is anwering them all in the time allotted.

4) Science

Do not read the words! For about 5-10% of the questions, you will have to refer to the text of the ‘experiment.’ For the other 90-95%, you can just use tables, graphs, and charts. Read carefully – many chemical names (phosphate and phosphite, for example) are similar, and the ACT has no problem trying to trick you into switching the two. Once again, work fast, but not as fast as during the reading. You have time to spend time on 3-5 problems you really can’t get. However, this means you need to work quickly on easier problems to make up for time spent on harder ones. The science section seems never-ending; it is the last test and has many passages with only 2-3 questions. Keep on going…the end of the test is near.

Good luck to all test takers!