How Should I Practice for the ACT?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 22 August 2019
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There are many ways to practice for the ACT, a pre-college standardized test that is similar to the SAT. Either of these tests may be used by colleges to gain information about student aptitude, and some universities take scores very seriously, while others do not. Most students aiming for top schools need to take either the ACT or SAT, and preparation may improve scores. The way each student will practice for the ACT can vary and may include things like taking practice tests, studying individually, getting teacher help or tutoring to build skills, using books that teach about the different materials present on the test, and taking private or school-led ACT practice courses.

Many students do begin to practice for the ACT by taking a private course, since some of these courses guarantee increases in scores. The disadvantage of private learning is that it can be very expensive, and not all students will be able to afford the classes. Some schools are very aware of the expense and they may budget to offer much less expensive or free ACT prep courses. Students should ask school guidance counselors whether the school will offer classes like this or if any other schools in the area do.


SAT and ACT courses haven't always been popular and many students have scored well without them. Most did so by a combination of methods. Having a general idea of what was on the test could indicate how to practice for the ACT. For example, studying grammar and usage is vital since a whole section will cover this. Students also need to prepare for math up to basic trigonometry, some scientific deductive reasoning, and reading comprehension. They can do this by taking sample tests, buying or borrowing a few current books on how to study for the ACT, and by studying the material they are certain is likely to be on the test, such as algebra or reading comprehension.

Theoretically, standardized tests don’t require study because it’s assumed that students at a specific grade level will have mastery of the skills the test assesses. Still, many students find they do improve scores through courses or other study methods. Even things like familiarization with layout of the test may slightly improve a score, and is a good reason to take at least a couple of practice tests, either online or utilizing books or courses.

It may really help to practice for the ACT either by taking a course or using printed study materials. Identifying areas of weakness is the most important part. When students see from courses, books, or pretests the areas in which they are insufficient, they can begin plans to improve their scores by studying those areas. In addition to book work or classes, students can also form study groups with peers, get help from teachers to explain concepts, or work individually with a skilled ACT tutor.



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