## Small tweaks create big results

I worked with a student today, C., who immediately increased his ACT Math score from a 24 to a 27 from one week to the next – that’s jumping from the 73% to the 88%. He accomplished this by using two simple tweaks that I suggested: slowing down and guessing more strategically.

Here’s how he did it:

## ACT math questions are arranged in order of difficulty

First let me explain a little about the ACT math section. Roughly speaking, the questions get harder as you proceed through the section.

## Focus on the first 30

I teach my students to focus on getting the first 30 questions correct. (After all, these are the easiest questions on the test.)

## What happens when you rush through

The first time C. took the test he rushed through – he was worried about having enough time to answer all the questions. So he, like most students, thought that hurrying through to get to all the questions was the correct strategy.

But look at what that cost him. He got 9 wrong in the first 30 questions. Which means he’s going to have to answer much harder questions, and get them correct, in order to earn back those 9 points.

## Slow down

My first advice to C. was to slow down. Speeding through was costing him too many points, especially EASY points!

Here are his results from the following week. He jumped up from the 73% to the 88% – answering 10 more questions correctly.

Look at that! He got all 30 of the first 30 questions correct. So that’s 9 more points (and counts for the majority of his score increase.) Notice that he didn’t need to learn any new formulas – he just needed to be more strategic about using his time.

## What happens when you run out of time?

Look at the last 15 questions. He was a lot more pressed for time here – since he had spent more time on the first 30 questions.

Look at his results side by side.

How did he manage to get one more right in the last 15 even when he was pressed for time?

## Guess “A”

When you have to randomly guess, choose one letter and stick with it. Here’s why strategic guessing works: by sticking with one letter you’re tilting the odds in your favor. Statistically, you’ll be right 1 in 5 times on the ACT math, so you’ll get 2 right in every 10 questions.

You can see that C. got a lot luckier than that. He got 6 right out of 13. Sometimes the gods are with you! Even if he had only gotten 25% of his guesses correct, he would have gotten 6 right and 10 wrong in those last 15 questions. That would have given him a raw score of 42, a scaled score of 26, and put him into the 86%.

## Small tweaks add up to big score increases

Small strategic changes can make a big difference in your ACT score. So slow down, focus on getting the first 30 questions correct in the ACT math section, and choose one letter when you need to guess.