5 Steps to Acing the ACT

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Here at Higher Learning Test Prep, we’re constantly asked to outline a pathway to success on the ACT and/or SAT. The truth is, there’s no one method for beating these standardized tests. The methods that some students use to improve their score may actually interfere with other students’ quest for the perfect score. A trick that helps your friend get a perfect score on the ACT Math section might actually cause you to make an unnecessary mistake. Your “hack” of the SAT Evidence-Based Reading section, that allows you to move more quickly and thus improve your score, may complicate matters for your best friend. Nevertheless, their is a general road map to success on both tests. So here you go:

1. Set a Goal Score

We can’t emphasize enough the importance of setting a goal score for the ACT or SAT. This shouldn’t be a matter of comparing yourself with your friends. Nor should your goal score be dictated by some arbitrary sense of what constitutes a great score. You’ll need to research the schools you’re interested in attending, looking for the range of ACT or SAT scores of currently enrolled students.

2. Review the Content

This part seems obvious, but is often overlooked by students that come to us looking for all the “tricks” for acing the SAT or ACT. Sure, we can help you improve your test taking skills, but if you don’t feel confident, for example, identifying parts of speech and using the distance formula, all the tricks in the world won’t help you get a perfect score on the SAT or ACT English and Math sections. Take a practice test, and once you’ve graded it, make a list of the skills you need to brush up on.

3. Study the Test, and the Test-Makers

Here’s where the “tricks” come in. Both the SAT and the ACT have common themes. They ask questions the same way, year-in and year-out. If you see a question that reminds you of a previous question, make note of that. How did the test-makers formulate the incorrect answers? How did you fall into their trap? Or, how did you avoid the trap? These tests are predictable, if you can gain an understanding of the test-makers’ strategies, you’ll be ready for anything!

4. Take at least 4 full-length Practice Tests

Shorter, focused sessions can help you understand the content and master the tricks, but only through the process of completing full-length tests can you truly master the test. Getting a perfect score on the ACT reading section means not only answering all the questions correctly, but doing so after you’ve already successfully completed an hour of grammar, and an hour of math… and you’ll still have a science test to ace after that. Taking full length tests is the only way to ensure you’ll have the stamina to succeed on test day. Furthermore, full length tests allow you to apply all the skills you’ve learned in practice. There’s an old saying “Realization is different from Actualization.” Having the skills is the first step, applying them in the real situation is the next step.

5. Analyze Results, Rinse and Repeat

Grading each practice test is an opportunity to learn more about yourself in relation to the SAT or ACT. Don’t get too excited when you’ve had success, and don’t get too bummed when you’ve had some trouble. Use each test as a tool to inform your continued study of the material. What worked, and what didn’t? What content areas are still weak? What tricks really helped? Take what you’ve learned from each practice test, and keep working towards your ultimate goal.

We believe that any student can reach their goal on the ACT or SAT. With the right practice, anything is possible. Remember: Practice does NOT necessarily make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.

And perfect practice is a lot easier if you’ve got the perfect tutor. Higher Learning Test Prep employs the best ACT and SAT tutors in the world, and they’re available for you anywhere in the world via Skype. If you need any further guidance on the SAT or ACT, drop us a line: director@higherlearningtestprep.com
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