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High School Scholars

Test Prep Resources

Scholar Resources > High School Scholars > Planning > Test Prep Resources


Tips for Taking the ACT

  • Carefully read the instructions on the cover of the test booklet.

  • Read the directions for each test carefully.

  • Read each question carefully.

  • Pace yourself — don't spend too much time on a single passage or question.

  • Pay attention to the announcement of five minutes remaining on each test.

  • Use a soft lead No. 2 pencil with a good eraser. Do not use a mechanical pencil or ink pen; if you do, your answer document cannot be scored accurately.

  • Answer the easy questions first, then go back and answer the more difficult ones if you have time remaining on that test.

  • On difficult questions, eliminate as many incorrect answers as you can, then make an educated guess among those remaining.

  • Answer every question. Your scores on the multiple - choice tests are based on the number of questions you answer correctly. There is no penalty for guessing.

  • If you complete a test before time is called, recheck your work on that test.

  • Mark your answers properly. Erase any mark completely and cleanly wit hout smudging.

  • Do not mark or alter any ovals on a test or continue writing the essay after time has been called. If you do, you will be dismissed and your answer document will not be scored

Tips for the ACT Writing Test

  • Carefully read the instructions on the cover of the test booklet.

  • Do some planning before writing the essay; you will be instructed to do your prewriting in your Writing Test booklet. You can refer to these notes as you write the essay on the lined pages in your answer folder.

  • Do not skip lines and do not write in the margins. Write your essay legibly, in English, with a No. 2 pencil. Do not use ink, a mechanical pencil, or correction fluid.

  • Carefully consider the prompt and make sure you understand the issue — reread it if you aren't sure.

  • Decide what perspective you want to take on the issue.

  • Then jot down your ideas: this might simply be a list of reasons and examples that you will use to explain your point of view on the issue.

  • Write down what you think others might say in opposition to y our point of view and think about how you would refute their arguments.

  • Think of how best to organize your essay.

  • At the beginning of your essay, make sure readers will see that you understand the issue. Explain your point of view in a clear and logical wa y.

  • Stay focused on the topic.

  • Discuss the issue in a broader context or evaluate the implications or complications of the issue.

  • Address what others might say to refute your point of view and present a counterargument.

  • Use specific examples.

  • Vary the structure of your sentences, and use varied and precise word choices.

  • End with a strong conclusion that summarizes or reinforces your position.

  • If possible, before time is called, recheck your work:

    • Make any corrections and revisions neatly, between the lines (but not in the margins).

    • If you find any words that are hard to read, recopy them so your readers can read them easily.

    • Correct any mistakes in grammar, usage, punctuation, and spelling.

Tips for the ACT Multiple-choice Tests


  • Be aware of the writing style used in each passage.

  • Consider the elements of writing that are included in each underlined portion of the passage. Some questions will ask you to base your decision on som e specific element of writing, such as the tone or emphasis the text should convey.

  • Be aware of questions with no underlined portions — that means you will be asked about a section of the passage or about the passage as a whole.

  • Examine each answer choice an d determine how it differs from the others. Many of the questions in the test will involve more than one aspect of writing.

  • Read and consider all of the answer choices before you choose the one that best responds to the question.

  • Determine the best answer.

  • Reread the sentence, using your selected answer.


  • Read each question carefully to make sure you understand the type of answer required.

  • If you choose to use a calculator, be sure it is permitted, is working on test day, and has reliable batter ies. Use your calculator wisely.

  • Solve the problem.

  • Locate your solution among the answer choices.

  • Make sure you answer the question asked.

  • Make sure your answer is reasonable.

  • Check your work.


  • Read the passage(s) carefully.

  • Read and consider all of the answer choices before you choose the one that best responds to the question.

  • Refer to the passage(s) when answering the questions.


  • Read the passage carefully.

  • Refer to the scientific information in the passage when answering the question.

  • Read and consider all of the answer choices before you choose the one that best responds to the question.

  • Note conflicting viewpoints in some passages.