How to prepare to take the ACT

How to prepare to take the ACT

By Hadley Hatch Posted January 28, 2021

As many of you know the juniors will be taking the ACT on February 23. Many students are panicking over trying to get a good score. These same students should know that there are many resources to help them study. Some of these resources include ACT prep books, online practice tests, and our high school teachers.

Here are some facts to know about the ACT before you take it. There are five tests on the ACT, there is reading, writing, English, math, and science. Each test has a set amount of questions and a time limit. The highest score you can get is a 36 and the lowest is 1.

The first test is the English test. This test is 45 minutes long with 75 questions all multiple choice. In the English test, you will read five essays total with words and phrases underlined. You will take the underlined phrases and simply either keep the underlined words or change them to one of the three other multiple choices answers. 

Ways to prepare for the ACT English test include the following of talking to or emailing the school’s English teachers for guidance on what skills you need to work on, getting an English-specific ACT prep book (which typically costs around $30), and taking the online practice tests. You can find practice tests at

The second test is the Mathematics test. This test is 60 questions with 60 minutes to complete the test. This test will focus on all the math skills you should have learned throughout high school. There will be easy, medium, and difficult equations on the math test that will test your skills. The math test is one of the hardest to get through in the time provided so use your time wisely.

There are several ways to prepare for the mathematics test. The first one is to talk or email the school’s math teachers and see what areas you need to improve on. Second, get a Math-specific ACT prep book that you can study diligently. And lastly, take the online practice tests

The next test is the Reading test. This test is 35 minutes long with 40 questions. In this test, there are 4, 800 words, passages. Each passage will be followed by around 10 questions. On this test, you will need to read fast and be able to retain what you are reading. 

There are several ways to study for the reading test which include, simply read and practice analyzing text, take the practice tests on, and getting help from your teacher is always a good idea.

The next test is the Science test. This test is 35 minutes long with 40 questions. You won’t need to know a lot of scientific information such as the properties of hydrogen. What you will need to know is how to read data tables, graphs, and charts to gain information. You will also have to solve one disagreement between 2-4 scientists. To practice for this test simply take the practice tests and ask your math and science teachers how to read graphs and charts.

Finally, the last test, also an optional test, is the Writing test. During this test, you will have to write a random essay from a random prompt in 40 minutes. Even though this test is optional you should still take it because you may find that your future school requires it. This score will not factor into your composite score ( your all together score).

You can study for the writing test by choosing a prompt and write about it for 40 min. Anyone can also practice their handwriting and grammar for the handwritten test. Ask an English teacher for advice.

During the day of the ACT, you are going to want to have plenty of sleep in your system along with a filling breakfast. This will help with the ACT with sleep deprivation or starvation. Remember to relax and try your hardest it’s not the end of the world if you don’t get your desired scores.

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