ACT Exam Preparation India 2020 – 2021
ACT is one of the most widely recognized college entrance examinations. It comprises of four testing areas: English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science (Writing section is optional). Along with its competitor SAT, ACT is a widely recognized examination to get into the undergraduate college of your choice in America. In 2011, ACT zoomed past the SAT in terms of the total number of test-takers.
How to prepare for the ACT test
Once you have decided on your target schools, some preliminary research will give you a basic idea of the desired ACT score range. ACT tests on the skills that cannot be acquired through cramming, but rather rewards students with solid fundamentals.
You should plan ahead and take the examination date/location that fits into your overall plan. International students have a slew of miscellaneous tasks to perform after the examination(s) that need to be accommodated while drawing the time-tables. You should also consider the possibility of re-attempt in the case of a less-than-stellar score.
As you start your preparation, taking a quick diagnostic test will reveal the amount of preparation that needs to be done to achieve your target score. If your results are well within the scores required for the target schools, you can go ahead and sit for the examination with minimal preparation. However, if you are short of the target scores, you need some strategic hard work and/or external help.
The increase in score per unit of effort tapers off as the target score increases, i.e. going from 20 to 24 is much easier than going from 30 to 34. After doing a SWOT analysis, create a study plan that reflects your focus on improving upon weakness areas. You’ll likely be a champ in some topics and clueless in others, hence having a customized study plan is essential.
Methods of preparation for the ACT test
If you like studying in groups, you can approach a local coaching center. In metros, major test preparation companies (Kaplan, Princeton Review etc.) can provide a consistent and predictable learning experience. If you are a visual learner, enrolling in an online preparation course with videos should accelerate learning. In any case, it is a good idea to research about all the options that are available and creating a week-by-week realistic study plan.
Preparation tips to crack the ACT
The strategies that make someone successful at ACT are fairly simple and lend to common-sense. However, a ticking clock under sterile test conditions can derail plans.
- The most important thing you need to do is familiarizing yourself with the pattern and structure of the test. The overall flow, the instructions for each subject, and the overall guidelines/rules should be well-known by the time you sit for the actual test.
- Making silly mistakes is the only way you can end up with a score that is very different from your practice run. While actual test conditions can make you jittery, it is imperative to keep your calm and confidence while attempting the questions. Test-takers usually design the test in a way that punishes the candidate who does not read the question properly or makes wrong assumptions. Taking practice tests that simulate actual test conditions can help you in avoiding the “jitters”.
- Avoid getting stuck and wasting too much of your time on any question. All the questions within a subject test carry equal marks, and it makes sense to solve all the easy questions first. You can always mark the ones you leave so that you can come back to re-attempt at the end of the test. Also make sure to guess all the answers at the end, as there is no penalty for wrong answer choices.
- Be structured with your responses and use your test booklet as scratch paper if necessary. Sometimes putting things on paper works like magic- it leads to better insights, avoid errors and helps you stay on track.
- Exploit the fact that it is a multiple-choice question test. You can arrive at the correct answer through rule-book based lengthy calculations, or simply plugging the answers back to see if they make sense. Intelligent guessing after eliminating wrong answer choices increases your chances of being correct. ACT is just a tool to get you into the college of your dreams, and you should treat it as such.
ACT Exam Practice
Replicating the test conditions as closely as possible should be your goal, as the length of the ACT requires concentration and focus. One cannot take frequent breaks or even eat/drink as one pleases. Hence, the act of sitting for the whole exam stretch is a practice in itself. And, practice makes perfect.
For English, the most common types of errors have to do with the structure of the sentence, verb-subject relationships, and weird pronouns. For Mathematics, you are missing something in general if it takes too long to solve a question. Try to rack your brains for an easier formula or trick(s). For Reading, it is not helpful to read the passage in detail: usually skimming the passage at the first go while taking notes and getting the bigger picture is far more productive. Looking at the questions afterward, you will know where to look for answers in the passage. For Science Reasoning, do not get intimated by fancy-looking equations or terminologies. You should focus on the variables and measurements made, and what is required as an answer. For Essays, cogency of thought and structure is paramount. Include a nice beginning and conclusion, and do support your ideas through proper reasoning instead of merely giving opinions.
The ACT Official Guide (link) is a good starting resource to get acquainted with the basic format of the exam; it comes with solutions and the explanations for the solutions. You can also practice online section-wise for ACT (link). Magoosh also provides with a practice test PDF here. You can enroll for free ACT Practice Test at Princeton.
Tips for ACT Test Day
It is extremely important to sleep well the day before the examination. Make sure that you have your passport, admission ticket, calculator and pencils/erasers ready beforehand. Having a watch is also a good idea, as the right pacing is crucial. Consuming favorite snacks/drinks during scheduled breaks replenishes some lost energy, and should help in maintaining focus.