I had a free 20 min call with a student who wanted to improve her ACT scores.
Her current ACT scores were:
- English: 27
- Math: 24
- Reading: 35
- Science: 22
She wanted some quick tips on how to improve her Science and Math scores.
1. Answer fewer questions
When I asked her about her performance, she said she was worried because she was running out of time – she had to rush through the last 10 or so questions at the end of each section.
I surprised her with my advice: don’t try to answer all the questions. In fact, focusing on a fewer number of questions usually leads to a higher score.
She, like many of my students, thought that answering more questions is how you win the ACT. (Since there’s no wrong answer penalty, kids think they should rush and try to answer every question.)
But it’s not. How you win the ACT is to get more correct answers.
For example, if she rushes through 10 questions, not spending the time to make sure she is solving them correctly, odds are she’ll miss most of them, or just get a couple correct by luck more than anything.
What if instead she focused her time just on the first five? She could spend twice as much time on those, probably getting 3 or 4 correct. And, if she guesses A for the next 5 (see the next section for this tactic), she’ll probably get at least one more correct. So by focusing on a fewer number of questions, she probably get 4-5 correct – doubling her potential score from the last 10 questions.
2. Don’t randomly guess
She was running out of time and just randomly bubbling in answers for the last 10-15 questions in the math and science sections. Of course, most of those random guesses were wrong.
A better tactic is to choose one letter and stick to it – what I call guessing A. (Of course, it doesn’t matter what letter you choose. Just choose one and always use it when you don’t know the answer to the question (and can’t put yourself into a good guessing position.)
3. Don’t read the science passages first
Since the science passages are dense, dry, and complex, and practically impossible to understand, don’t read them first!
It makes more sense to read the questions first to understand what you are looking for, then go back to the passage and find the answer to that question. Looking at the passage through the lens of the question allows you to quickly narrow in on only the needed information.
4. Bubble like this
She, like many students, was bubbling in her answer after every question. That wastes time and brain cells.
A better tactic is to bubble the spread – answer every question in the pages in front of you and then bubble them all in before you turn to the next page.
(If you would like a free 20 minute call to see how you can get a higher score on the ACT or SAT, you can book one here.)
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