ACT Test Taking Strategies

ACT Test Taking Strategies

The ACT consists of four multiple-choice tests in English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science, with an optional writing test. Each multiple-choice test contains questions with either four or five answers from which you are to choose the correct, or best, answer. These suggestions apply to the four multiple-choice tests.

1. Speed is important

It is important that you have enough time to read the passages and questions and figure out your responses. For each test, subtract the number of minutes you estimate you will spend skimming the passages or reading the information provided, then divide the total number of remaining minutes allowed by the number of questions to determine the estimated time you should spend on each question.

If possible, spend less time on each question and use the remaining time allowed for a test to review your work and return to the questions on that test that were most difficult for you.

The time limits set for each test give nearly everyone enough time to finish all questions. However, you will want to pace yourself to avoid spending too much time on one passage or puzzling over an answer to a specific problem. Go on to other questions and come back if there is time.

2. Read the directions carefully

Before you begin each test, read the directions carefully. The English, Reading, and Science tests ask for the best answer. Read and consider all of the answer choices and choose the answer that best responds to the question.

The Mathematics test asks for the correct answer. You may want to work out the answer you feel is correct and look for it among the choices given. If your answer is not among the choices provided, reread the question and consider all the answer choices.

3. Read each question carefully

You need to understand exactly what each question asks. Some questions require you to go through several steps to find the correct or best answer, while others can be answered more quickly.

4. Answer easy questions first

A good strategy is to answer the easy questions and skip the questions you find difficult. After answering the easy questions, go back and answer the more difficult questions if you have time.

5. Use logic on difficult questions

When you return to the more difficult questions, try to use logic to eliminate incorrect answers. Compare the answer choices to each other and note how they differ. Such differences may provide clues as to what the question requires. Eliminate as many incorrect answers as you can, then make an educated guess from the remaining answers.

6. Answer every question

Your score on the tests is based only on the number of questions that you answer correctly. As there is no penalty for guessing, try to answer every question within the time allowed for each test.

7. Review your work

If there is time left after you have answered every question in a test, go back and check your work on that test. You will not be allowed to go back to any other test or mark responses to a test after time has been called on that test.

8. Mark your responses precisely

If you are taking the ACT on paper, be sure that you properly fill in the appropriate ovals on your answer document. Check that the number of the line of ovals on your answer document is the same as the number of the question you are answering and that you mark only one answer for each question. If the ACT is taken online, be sure you select the intended response.

9. Erase completely

If you want to change a multiple-choice answer, use a soft eraser that will erase the unintended mark completely and not leave smudges. Do not cross out answers or use correction fluid or tape. Smudges or unintended marks may cause errors in scoring.