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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Need-to-Know Tips & Strategies for the ACT


  • Relax the night before the test
    Don't cram. You are being tested on knowledge that you have accumulated over the course of the year. Studying at the last minute will only stress you out. Go to a movie or hang out with a friend - anything to get your mind off of the test!

Test Specific

  • English
    When searching for sentence errors, start by reading the sentence or paragraph carefully, listening for it; usually the word or phrase that contains an error will sound wrong. If none are apparent, look for the four most common types of errors: errors in the relationship between the verb and its subject; pronoun errors; sentence structure errors; and awkwardness, verbosity, and incorrect use of idioms.

  • Mathematics
    As soon as you find the right answer, mark it and move on - there are no ''degrees of rightness'' to be considered. Marking up diagrams or sketching simple drawings when none are available can help you ''see'' the answers. The questions generally focus on mathematical reasoning, not your ability to perform calculations; if you find yourself spending too much time doing figuring, then you've probably overlooked a simple shortcut.

  • Reading
    Use the three-stage method (previewing, reading, and reviewing) to get the most out of each reading passage. Focus on the big ideas in each passage, not the small details. Look for connections among ideas in each passage. To help you find answers quickly, take notes as you read, marking the main ideas or connections with your pencil.

  • Science Reasoning
    Use the three-stage method (previewing, reading, reviewing) to get the most out of each science reasoning passage. In data representation passages, focus on what is being measured, relationships among variables, and trends in data. Don't be confused by irrelevant information or technical terminology - most science reasoning passages have them, and they can almost always be ignored.

  • Math: Multiple-Choice Questions
    As you work through the multiple-choice math questions, you'll be given reference information (formulas and facts), but you'll need to know how to use them. You're allowed to use a calculator, but, again, it won't help you unless you know how to approach the problems. If you're stuck, try substituting numbers for variables. You can also try plugging in numbers from the answer choices. Start with the middle number. That way, if it doesn't work, you can strategically choose one that's higher or lower.

  • Writing (Optional)
    Essays are scored holistically, which means that the final score is based on an overall impression. One way to create a good impression is to organize your ideas into a standard essay format. A well-organized essay consists of four to five paragraphs, including an introduction, supporting paragraphs, and a conclusion. Aim to have at least two body paragraphs to develop and support your ideas.

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