How Do I Develop a Personalized ACT Study Plan?
Taking on the ACT exam is a pretty impressive undertaking, so give yourself major credit for accepting this challenge! To rock your ACT prep, start by setting up a solid study schedule.
When developing a study plan, it’s important to work backwards from your test date, to determine how long you have to study. Be realistic with yourself about how many hours and days per week you can study, and then stick to it! Discipline is important.
Then, figure out what you’ll study each week. If you have two weeks to go, hold off on taking a full-length practice test and work on learning and practicing ACT strategies. If you are a few months away, you can definitely add several full-length practice ACTs to your study schedule, but focus first on the content areas.
If you’re overwhelmed by the idea of developing your own ACT study schedule from scratch, don’t worry. We’ve created two fully-formed ACT study guides to help you out. These study plans include helpful resources, day by day assignments, practice, and helpful strategies. Combined with the content on the Magoosh ACT Blog, these schedules will help to boost your confidence on ACT test day. Click the images to check them out:
Finding and Using Great ACT Resources
Another great place to begin learning about the test itself is at www.actstudent.org. If you can, order an official copy of the Real ACT Prep Guide. It includes full-length practice tests as well as answers and explanations.
Free ACT practice materials abound online, but make sure that they are high quality, or you may be practicing with outdated materials. For help finding great ACT resources online, check out our Free ACT Practice Materials post. We also recommend that you check out our Magoosh ACT eBook, which covers all the main concepts on the ACT exam:
Start doing some practice problems to get a feel for the format of the test and to begin to learn your personal strengths and weaknesses. Don’t worry if you get a lot of questions wrong at first. Create an ACT study folder and add a “Formula Sheet” and a “Vocab Sheet,” where you can write any unfamiliar math formulas and vocabulary you come across in your studies. Make flashcards if that is an easy way for you to learn!
Tip: Though the ACT exam isn’t as vocab-focused as the SAT, you can definitely use the free Magoosh SAT Vocab Flashcards (available on iPhone, Android, and the web) to boost your vocabulary knowledge. They’re actually kind of addicting…
Which Strategy Will Work Best for Me?
It’s ok if your ACT study plan is unique! Making the most of your ACT study schedule requires adapting it to your particular needs. Experiment with various strategies from the red ACT Official Guide, and see which ones work best for you (there’s no “one size fits all” approach to the ACT). Be patient if you don’t see your scores shoot up immediately. The new strategies may slow you down or mess you up at first but practicing them will give you extra tools on test day.
Once you’ve practiced enough problems, so that you’ve refreshed your knowledge and test-taking skills, schedule a time for yourself to sit down and take a 4-hour practice test. Set a timer for each section and try and find a quiet room to mimic test-taking conditions. The goal is not to get every question correct, but to get a feel for what the timing of each section is like. You may not finish each test on your first try, but you’ll know what strategies you need to practice.
How Do I Know if My Study Plan Works?
Focus on your progress, and don’t be upset if your first couple practice tests aren’t as high-scoring as you’d like. Preparing for a test takes organization, practice and a positive mental attitude. There is no such thing as a “good” or a “bad” test-taker. Some students are just more familiar with the content areas and strategies than others. Test-taking is a learned skill, so don’t be discouraged. Create a checklist of your study sessions so you can reward yourself as you get work done!