Are ACT Hacks Really Helpful?
If you’re in a pinch, ACT hacks can help to alleviate the stress of the situation and give you the best opportunity to do well on the test. Calling these tips ‘hacks’, however, may be misleading to the reader. We are not entering into the mainframe of the ACT test and plugging ourselves in. Instead, we have established a useful list of tips that helps you score your best.
In this blog, I will be listing some useful hacks (or tips) for the reader. I will also go on to explain each one and why they may be beneficial to adopt into the students test-taking arsenal.
7 ACT Hacks To Keep In Mind!
1. Take the Practice Tests
This may seem rather intuitive, but this hack is nonetheless greatly overlooked by those taking the ACT. Often, students may find that they feel they are competent with the material. If they scored high marks in high school, they have confidence in their ability to reflect what they have learned.
Though it may be the case that it does work out for the accomplished student, one would better their chances of securing their best score with practice. If I already have a natural ability, I would be far more advanced if I took the natural ability and then developed it further. If I can sprint fast naturally, training would make me sprint faster.
No matter your level of perceived skill, practice is certainly one way to ensure a good score on the ACT. Practicing the tests will help you become acquainted with the format, the types of questions asked, and your personal timing needs.
2. Start From Your Favorite Subject
Starting from your favorite subject may be a good avenue to take in order to boost test-taking confidence early on. If you feel comfortable with some section, do it first! This way when you approach the other sections you are less comfortable with, you will (hopefully) have more faith in your ability.
3. Skip Hard Questions… For The Time Being
If you are spending more than a minute to figure out a question, skip it and return to it later if you have time. You should skip it for several reasons:
1) If you stay on a single question for far too long, you will end up wasting time that would be better allocated on those questions you know. Though it is important to try it and see if you can do it, you should not spend a great amount of time on a question you have no idea where to start.
2) If you stay on a question that you do not know how to do for too long, you may end up discouraging yourself and questioning your ability. It is better to recognize early-on that this question seems more difficult than what you find yourself able to do at the moment and move on. This preserves your confidence as you correctly analyzed that a question was out of your scope, and that you will return to the question later if time permits.
3) You can always come back! Sometimes coming back to a difficult question after a little bit of time has passed better enables you to solve it. The question was processing in your subconscious for that amount of time and now is more understood by you to solve.
4. Use Elimination
The process of elimination on the multiple choice questions of the ACT are your best friend. If you know what answers can not be the correct answer, then by the process of elimination, you have narrowed your choices to more feasible ones.
If, for instance, you still do not know the answer after eliminating some that you know could not be the true answer, it will enable you to have a better guess than if you were guessing from a larger body of answers.
5. Choose The Most Concise Answer
When in doubt, choose the most concise answer. Many times the people who make the ACT will use lengthy answers that seem convincing by their nature to throw you off. When in doubt, pick the answer that simply answers the question at hand.
6. Always Find Evidence
If there is an answer on the test which seems convincing, look for the answer in the passage! Oftentimes the people making the test will just pull something directly out of the text in the readings, or they will cobble something together with some implicit deductions which could be drawn from the text.
Thus, it is always important to try and find the correct answer in the text. If you have selected an answer before reading to find it in the text and you have some more time at the end, you should try to find the answer you selected.
7. Visualize The Questions
One way to help orient yourself on those harder questions on the ACT is to visualize the problem in your imagination or to draw a sketch of it. If you are struggling with a Math problem, try writing it out or drawing the complete picture. If you are struggling to understand a word, write it down and try to break apart its prefix, suffix, and/or root to understand its meaning.
Making a visual of particular problems can be very useful!
More ACT Hacks Catered To Each Subject
- Do Not Pull The Trigger On ‘No Change’ Answer Choices: The people making the test are purposefully trying to mislead you so that you may overcome the temptation and choose the correct answer by your own might. One of those temptations they offer, that many students are eager to choose, are those pesky ‘NO CHANGE’ answer choices. Be careful with these!
- Use The Entire Sentence To Your Benefit: The English section will provide you with many sentences that have words they would like you to define. The best method of attack is to not panic, but to refer to the sentence for contextual clues. What could this word mean given the context of this sentence?
- Know The Formulas: Even if you are provided a formula sheet along with the exam, you waste time by searching up the formula. You would save time by memorizing the formula list beforehand. Memorization of these formulas would be best accompanied by practice!
- Plug In Your Answers To The Problem: After you got an answer to an equation problem, plug your answer back in for the variable you were solving for and see if it makes sense/works!
- Use The Visuals: There are many diagrams and charts in the ACT science section which tend to be daunting at first blush, and thus, avoided. Do not avoid these diagrams! Use them! They are there to help you. In your practice tests you should make yourself comfortable with using the diagrams and charts so that you can use them to your advantage on the test and not fear them.
- Knowing when to skim: Knowing if you are able to skim and retain the information is crucial. If you think you can skim but do not understand what you have read, then you have just wasted time. As you will have to go back and read the passage fully. Practicing your ability to skim before taking the test may be beneficial. Try skimming a paragraph of something and seeing how much you retain.
- Find The Evidence For An Answer In The Text: We touched on this in the previous section, however, it is something that should be reiterated and hit home, as it were. If you think you have the right answer to a question, go back and find it in the text if you have the time to do so.
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About The Author
Dahlia is a graduate of Florida State University earning a B.S. in both philosophy and psychology. In her free time she enjoys filmmaking and photography, backpacking, and cycling.