1. Be an ‘active’ test takerACT test prep; don’t passively work through the exam. What does this mean? Write stuff down in your test booklet! Active test takers are more focused. The stronger the focus, the higher the score.
  • Underline line references, but ALWAYS begin reading at the beginning of the paragraph so you have context.
  • On the initial read through, go through the options, cross out only the ‘stupid’. Any option you pause to consider, even if it’s only for a nanosecond, is not ‘stupid’.
  • Not only should you bubble in your answer on the scantron, but also circle it in your test booklet. If you inadvertently skip a question and don’t realize until after you’ve answered several questions, then it’s easy to remedy. REMINDER: Double check to make sure you bubble in what you have circled in your test booklet.
  1. On the Reading, always PREVIEW: Underline what’s important in the header, then read the first sentence of each paragraph as well as the very last to understand the point of the passage. WRITE IT DOWN, but just don’t write the topic – write a complete thesis statement. Understanding the point the author is making enables you to go through the questions with more accuracy and rapidity. After previewing the prose fiction excerpt, write down the story line in 1-2 sentences.
  2. To ensure you understand the Reading question, ‘flip it’ into an interrogatory and rephrase in your own words. Most students spend too much time going through the options and not enough time being mindful of the question.
  3. When you are down to two choices on the Reading, read the stem (question) with each choice. A good ‘distractor’ (wrong) option is one that may be stated in the passage but doesn’t answer the question.
  4. On the English rhetoric question, underline the key words and rephrase in your own   words. Students often get confused about what the question is truly asking, but    rephrasing it into more simple language provides clarity and focus.
  5. Only fix it if it’s broken. Many students think that the ‘NO CHANGE’ option in the English is rarer than the other options – not true! Each choice is the correct answer about 25% of the time.
  6. In the English grammar, remember that context is king. MINIMALLY read the entire sentence containing the underlined word, phrase, or clause asked about. More often than not, you will need to read the preceding and/or following sentences as well.
  7. On the English rhetoric, when the question asks if a sentence should stay where it is or be moved, notice whether the sentence is a general statement or specific – a reason, example, etc. More often that not, general statements would go toward the beginning, more specific ones lower down in the passage.
  8. On the Math, make sure to allow yourself extra time for the last 10 questions as they are the most time consuming.
  9. None of the ACT Math questions ‘requires’ the use of a calculator. If you’re ‘knee deep’ in decimals you’re on the wrong track!
  10. Be able to identify the kinds of Science Passages you prefer so you can do them first.  (Data Representation – relies on graphics; Research Summaries – describes 1-2 experiments; Conflicting Viewpoints – no graphics, reminiscent of the double passages on the Reading.) Likewise, save the ones you tend to struggle with for last.
  11. Count the number of questions per Science passage. Subtract one. The result is the number of minutes you should spend on the passage.

These are some of the more salient strategies taught in Breakthrough Test Prep’s targeted test preparation.  If you or your teen have any questions, or want to learn more about our program, I welcome hearing from you!



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