ACT Prep begins with simple steps

The ACT is coming up for juniors and seniors alike. The next test date is Nov. 2 to Nov. 19, but sign up is different depending on graduation dates. Most seniors sign up when they’re ready and before they graduate, while juniors usually wait until spring. However, everybody is their own person and shouldn’t feel pressured to sign up if they aren’t ready to walk into the testing building. 

If you’re signing up just to see what the questions are so you can study them for next year, don’t. The test changes every year.

Also, be sure that your college ever requires the ACT. Some colleges, like Hampshire College and New York University, do not require their students to take the test at all. 

The ACT will cost $42.50 for a test without writing and $58.50 for one with, so it’s up to you to know which one you have to take. Don’t forget, there’s also a $30 late fee, and once you’re signed up and get your ticket, make sure you know where your testing center is.

Now with an upcoming test comes quite a bit of worry, and with that worry, some might find it hard to focus on studying. Here are a few tips to help you calm down and focus on that book in front of you when the time comes.

You cannot fail. No matter what other people say, there is no failing the ACT. 

Next, you can only study so much for a randomized test. Don’t let yourself feel like you didn’t study enough. Some questions you can’t predict. It’s also OK to feel a little stressed. It’s actually to be expected with this type of test. 

Don’t forget, you can take the test as many times as you need to. This is not a one time thing. Even counselor Chris Wood said he took the test three times until he was satisfied with his results. Test scores frequently improve every time one retakes the test, so don’t feel bad about retakes, and Wood said, “Test scores are only one measurement of your ability to succeed in college.”

The ACT will have four tests (five if you took the writing option) including English, math, reading and science. The test length is 2 hours and 55 minutes with breaks in between each topic, but no electronics are allowed during so. There are 40 minutes for science, 40 minutes for reading, 60 minutes for math and 75 minutes for English. The test starts at 8 a.m. on a Saturday.

Finally, how do you study for something like this? First things first. Don’t study once and think you’re good. It’s not like a CFA you can study 30 minutes for beforehand. This is something you’re going to want to try and prepare for. Pace your studying sessions so you don’t overwork yourself and keep an eye out for any free ACT prep tests, mostly online. 

For people who prefer paper work, there’s the UNIQ free pretest service, and the counseling office also offers ZAPS, which is a one day paid program that offers one whole test that’s just like the ACT. People who have taken it have reported it’s certainly helped them when the time came. 

On the ACT website, there’s also the ACT academy, which is a fully free test prep online and is a great place to start. To finish off with easy to find study material, there’s also the free booklet available in the guidance office. 

Studying isn’t the only thing you should focus on, however. When it comes to what happens the day before testing, you’ll quickly realize it’s just as important. Don’t change your routine. Don’t drink coffee if you usually don’t drink coffee, and if you usually go to bed at 11, then go to bed at 11. Changing your schedule can easily make you feel groggy and grumpy when morning time rolls around. 

You will need a calculator, your printed out ticket, a photo ID such as a driver license, No. 2 pencils (Mechanical pencils do not count, and they will take them away), a watch (no Apple watches) and snacks to eat during your break. 

When the test is finished, you’ll find yourself worrying over the scores. Try not to stress too much about it. What’s done is done. The test results will get back to you in four to six weeks over email, and you’ll be the first to see it. 

Now, to all the students out there, good luck.

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