Tips to Ace Your ACT!


Julia Wilhide, Writer

Hey you! Are you a junior who’s being forced to take the ACT tomorrow? Don’t worry, I’ve been there too, and I have compiled some tips to help you do your best on this test!

  1. Study – Check out all the resources that Bob Jones has for testing. Bob Jones has student accounts for the ACT testing resource OnToCollege. Teachers and counselors might also have study materials available to use, like books, online resources, and papers that sum up tips for each section (I found the paper like this from OnToCollege to be a really helpful and quick way to review). ACT study apps are also a fantastic resource. Don’t try to cram too much in at the last minute, but looking over your study materials another time might be helpful. This google doc from Bob Jones has links to some materials you can use to study.
  2. Prepare your resources – Have all your resources ready for test day- including your picture, a valid form of ID,  and your test ticket. For this test, you’ll also need to make sure that you are prepared to follow all Covid guidelines- like wearing a mask, and remaining distanced from other people.  In terms of supplies for the actual test, have your wooden #2 pencils and approved calculators at the ready- check out this ACT Test Day page for full details directly from the ACT people. Have everything, including what you will wear, and any snacks or bags that you will be bringing, laid out and ready to go the night before, so that the morning isn’t stressful. You should also check what room you’ll be testing in, just to make sure you get to the right place (look for it on your Patriot Dashboard account, here).
  3. Rest – Now to talk about getting yourself ready- you can’t be tired and have a foggy brain on test day. The test is at 8 am on Tuesday, March 9th, so you’ll need to wake up early enough to arrive at school on time, without feeling rushed. Make sure you sleep enough the night before, so that you’ll be ready to go in the morning. On that note, you should probably arrive at school earlier than the start time, maybe at 7:45 am or before (whatever works best for you), so that you can get through checking in on time and be comfortable in your testing environment.
  4. Fuel yourself – It’s important to get all the nutrients you need to stay focused and do your best, so eat a good breakfast before the test and drink water to be hydrated. You are also allowed to bring a snack and a water bottle with you for the break.
  5. Be comfortable – It’s a good idea to be familiar and comfortable with the testing room and yourself. Wear something that you can relax in, so that you can be completely focused on the questions, and not worry about what you are wearing. You might want to wear layers, in case the room is hotter or colder than you thought it would be, but you should also make sure to not wear anything that will distract you or others by making a lot of noise. Take notice of how the room is set up, checking for clocks, tissues (you may want to bring some with you just in case the room doesn’t have any), or anything else that is important for you to know. 
  6. Listen to directions – Follow the rules so that your test score is not cancelled. Don’t bring anything that would get you in trouble, and make sure that all devices are completely turned off, and put away out of reach at the time specified by the testing proctor.
  7. Know the structure of the test – If you are comfortable with the format of the ACT, you will probably perform better on it. The ACT is basically structured the same way the PreACT (the practice test that was required for 10th graders last year) is. Like the PreACT, the ACT has 4 multiple choice sections- English, Math, Reading, and Science- and it’s scored on a scale from 1-36. The ACT is longer than the PreACT, though, as the regular ACT is 2 hours and 55 minutes long, while the PreACT is 1 hour and 55 minutes long. However, tomorrow’s required ACT is the ACT with writing, so it will be 3 hours and 35 minutes long. These are the section details: English is 45 minutes with 75 questions, Math is 60 minutes with 60 questions, Reading is 35 minutes with 40 questions, and Science is 35 minutes with 40 questions. The writing section is 40 minutes and has 1 essay question. Every multiple choice answer has bubbles to fill in on your answer sheet.
  8. Be calm – Don’t worry about the results of the test. I’m sure you’ve heard that before, and I know it is difficult to do, but it’s a good mindset to have. If you are too focused on worrying about your score (or anything else going on), your efforts won’t be as successful. Just put the worry out of your mind, and remain in the moment- thinking about each individual task at hand, then you can worry about it later (or don’t- don’t stress yourself out :)).
  9. Keep track of your time – This is something that I wish I would have done better at, when I took the ACT. It may be helpful for you to take note of the time when each test will be over based on the time when you start the test and either write that down in the margins of the test (but only where you are allowed to write) or keep track of the time on your watch or a clock in the room, if there is one.
  10. Take things one step at a time – I have found that when taking the ACT, or any other test, it’s more beneficial to focus on individual questions as you complete them, rather than getting worried about the whole of the test. Set your mind on the task at hand, complete it, then move on to the next question.
  11. Guess when unsure – On the ACT, points are not taken away for incorrect answers, you can only earn points for right answers. So if you aren’t completely sure- just give it your best guess and move on. It may be helpful to answer the questions that you know you have the correct answer for quickly, then go back to the ones you were unsure of at the end. If you run out of time for the last few at the end, just pick a letter and bubble them in. If you do that and still have time, go back and see if you can actually answer those questions correctly.
  12. Stay positive – Remember that there will be other opportunities for you to test again, so don’t get discouraged if you aren’t happy with your current score. You still have plenty of time to do even better in the future- and I know you will!


I hope these tips are helpful for you! Good luck on your ACT test tomorrow- you’re going to do great!