If you are a high school student, you know the importance of standardized test scores.  If you are like me, you have probably searched every college’s average ACT score and started to worry, but do not panic!  ACT scores are not the sole deciding factor of whether or not you will be admitted into a college, but having good scores can only help. I have compiled five tips on how you can improve your ACT score that I used in high school.

Tip #1: Do not take the test without studying.

Many students take the ACT the first time without studying to use it as a practice test.  The problem with this is that the ACT costs money. Most people do not do great the first time, so if you want to take a practice test to see how you would do, take a practice test first.  That way, you are familiar with the format of the test, and you have an idea of how much you need to study in order to get the score you want.

Tip #2: Use official ACT practice tests.

There are many test companies, such as Kaplan and Princeton Review, that sell ACT prep books and practice tests. While they can be helpful, they are not written by the same company that designs the ACT, so they are not always accurate.

The best way to prepare for the ACT is by using the Official ACT Prep Guide since it is the only prep book written by the ACT organization.

Tip #3: Practice your weakest subjects the most.

If you have not taken a practice test, take one and determine what your strongest and weakest subjects are. That way, you can devote the most time studying for your weakest subjects.

That is not to say that you should not study your strongest subjects as well.  Even if you performed well in a certain subject on your practice test or previous ACT test, it is still useful to take at least one practice test in that subject before your next ACT test, so you stay familiar with the subject and the style of the questions.  I made this mistake after my first ACT test by only focusing on my weakest subjects. While my scores did increase in my weaker subjects, my score in my strongest subject dropped which hurt my composite score.

Tip #4: Look for patterns in what you are getting wrong.

After you determine what your weakest subjects and strongest subjects are, look closer to see if there is any particular subject you are struggling with.  For example, if you are struggling in math, look at your answers to see if there is a specific subject, such as geometry, that you are struggling in. Once you determine this, you can review that specific subject instead of every subject on the math test, and it is a much better use of time.

The most useful methods I found for improving my skills in subjects I struggled in was by watching lessons on the specific subjects I was struggling with on YouTube, and then once I understood the topic, I answered practice questions in that subject.

Tip #5: Don’t cram the night before the test.

It can be very tempting to stay up all night studying the night before the test, but please do not do this.  There is not much you can teach yourself the night before the test, and studying too much the night before will cause you to stress which will only hurt you.  It is better just to relax the night before and go to bed early. A good night’s sleep will be much more beneficial than cramming.

Rose L