How students can better prepare for the ACT

LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) – With a pencil and about 3 and a half hours, students take their ACT as they prepare to apply for college.

The ACT is a 3 hour and 35-minute long exam that high school juniors and seniors take to help get into college.

“Well a study was recently conducted asking the top universities what are the most important criteria that they’re looking for in candidates,” said Owner and Executive Director at Sylvan Learning Christy Sharon, “the number three criteria was standardize tests.”

The exam consists of an English, math, reading, science and an optional writing portion.

But, before you get overwhelmed there are a several ways to calm those pre-test nerves.

“There are various websites available that offer free ACT tests so they can know the formatting,” said LPSS coordinator of student services Tonya Hebert, “They know ahead of time what does the test look like. So the day of the test they’re not seeing it for the very first time.”

Some students even take prep classes to help.

There are also little things you can do on the test date to get you in the right mindset.

“Make sure you’re getting a good night sleep,” said Sharon, “obviously make sure you have a good breakfast that morning, make sure you arrive early.”

As for during the test, “Make sure you answer every single question. Also, make sure that you start with the easy questions first. Use your time wisely. Make sure that you bring a watch and that you pace yourself.”

Sharon believes these tips will help prepare you for the ACT:

  1. Know the directions in advance.
    Don’t waste time deciphering the directions on test day. If you understand the directions in advance, you can immediately begin to work when the test supervisor says to begin.
  2. Use Process of Elimination.
    If you are having some difficulty with a question, get rid of any answer choices that you feel cannot possibly be correct and make a guess from the remaining answers.
  3. Never leave an answer blank.
    If you cannot eliminate any of the answer choices, or if you feel it would take too long to answer the question, make a random guess—it cannot hurt!
  4. Keep going.
    The test has a mix of easier and more difficult questions, so don’t take too much time on one question. Choose your best guess or mark it and come back to it later.
  5. Read each question carefully.
    Underline or circle keywords as you read each question. Watch for words such as NOT or LEAST that establish important relationships between the question and the answer choices.
  6. Watch for modifying phrases.
    Sometimes a modifying phrase can help eliminate wrong answers. If an answer seems plausible but includes a phrase that is not true—eliminate it.
  7. Watch out for the dreaded “I’m one off” syndrome.
    Periodically check your answer sheet to make sure you have not misplaced an answer.
  8. Mark it up and write notes.
    Mark up questions and write notes in the margins to help you focus on key parts of the questions or eliminate answer choices as you work. Marking up the booklet and taking notes will not only improve your understanding of an item and your concentration on the day of your test, it will also help you manage your time efficiently.
  9. Practice. Practice. Practice.
    You’ll gain confidence the more comfortable you become with the test.

The next test is offered on April 8th and the one following is June 10th.

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