By Sam Coren
Students all across the country will be sharpening those number 2 pencils and gearing up to take the ACT exam soon. While college admissions exams are not exciting on their own, the anxiety leading up to test day can send you into a tizzy. And if you’re a terrible procrastinator about the whole “study and practice” bit, you might be feeling more nervous than students who were more on top of their test prep.
But fear not – whether you’ve been burning through practice tests all summer long, or haven’t even cracked an ACT test prep book, here are a few ways to maximize what’s left of your time. And don’t forget to take it easy the night before the test – you don’t want to start the ACT test feeling burned out from a frantic cram session:
Brush up on your Math skills with Khan Academy.
If you’ve got major Math Anxiety like me then you’re probably going to need the most last minute practice in this department. On the ACT’s Math section there will be 14 questions on pre-algebra, 10 on elementary algebra, 9 on intermediate algebra, 14 on plane geometry, 9 on coordinate geometry, and 4 on elementary trigonometry.
Now if you’re taking the test and haven’t had geometry or basic trig yet you’re probably stressing out. Don’t worry – Salman Khan’s critically acclaimed free Khan Academy video series has great crash courses to help you. Here’s the video covering basic trigonometry and the series on geometry.
Hit up the free practice questions (again).
The ACT test makers have free sample questions on all the test sections. You can click through all the possible answers and it will tell you why each possible answer is wrong or incorrect. Be sure to read through the reasoning why a certain option is wrong – especially on the English and Reading sections. This will give you a better understanding on how these sections are scored and hopefully clear up have any recurring misunderstandings.
Practice drafting outlines for the sample writing prompts.
In addition to free practice questions for the required sections of the test, the ACT provides sample writing prompts of the optional writing section. There are also sample essays and a scoring explanation that you should read through. One key test taking strategy for the writing section is being able to quickly outline your thoughts to structure your essay. This prevents you from “rambling on” and keeps your essay coherent when you have a gameplan to refer back to while you’re writing.
Since each essay prompt will ask you to take a position on an issue you need to provide clear examples to support your argument. Being able to jot down and organize these talking points before you start the essay will help you develop a logical flow for presenting them and form a concluding statement to tie them together.
First time taking the ACT? Don’t forget that there’s still time to register for upcoming ACT Test Dates if you want a second crack at it.