ACT Tips

Many colleges and universities utilize ACT scores as a means of assessing a student's preparedness for college. It is one of several measures used by colleges and universities in determining who is and isn't admitted to their school. High school grades, class rank, and other measures are considerably more difficult to change than one's ACT score. Unlike grades and class rank, it only takes a little effort to improve your ACT score. Besides using the practice passages here at The Physics Classroom, we offer the following tips for improving your score on the ACT test.

  • Gain some familiarity with the test. Know what to expect before the test lands on your desk. You can learn about the science portion of the test here at our website. And you can use the links in the Other Resources section to learn even more.
  • Have a plan. Execute the plan. Having a plan involves knowing what to do on each type of passage that is on the test.
  • Read the graphs, tables, diagrams first. Skim the questions next. Then (maybe) read the passage. And … don't forget to answer the questions.
  • Use the process of elimination. Eliminate unreasonable choices and make informed guesses when needed.
  • Practice reading graphs and charts. Practice interpreting experimental results. Practice delving into the conflicting views of fighting scientists. Use the practice passages here at The Physics Classroom's ACT Test Center to help you with this practice.
  • Practice fast. Make sure that you can do a passage in 5 minutes. Testing fast is a skill and one that many students have not yet mastered. And like any skill, testing fast must be practiced. Practice enough times to know what 5 minutes per passage feels like. Use the practice passages here. But also use the practice passages at the ACT.
  • Start preparing weeks in advance of the test. Don't study a lot each night. But do stretch the studying out over time. There's nothing to cram for; it simply isn't one of those types of tests. The test assesses your skills. No expert musician or professional athlete ever acquired their skills by a single evening of intense preparation. It takes continuous, ongoing work-outs to build skills. Start preparing weeks in advance of the test.
  • Do not leave any bubbles blank. There is no penalty for guessing.
  • Spend some time at the ACT student website. They offer a lot of help, including suggestions, practice passages and even a blog written by students for students. See our Other Resources page to learn even more.