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Rachel Kapelke-Dale

How to Make Yourself Study for the ACT

What’s that? You’re not dying to lock yourself in your room for hours every night, studying for the ACT?

Guess what? Nobody is. You’re not alone! In fact, there are millions of future test-takers all dreading this together! (Cue cheering, groaning).

But in the midst of all the other activities (Netflix comes to mind, not that you needed a suggestion) that you could be doing instead of studying, you’re here, reading about how to make yourself study for the ACT. That’s a really good sign. Because guess what else? There are ways to motivate yourself and make studying way less painful.

Finding Motivation to Study for the ACT

One thing that it’s really easy to lose sight of in the build-up to test day is why you’re taking this exam in the first place. In a lot of cases, it’s because you’re applying to college.

No matter how you feel about going off to college, there’s probably some aspect of it, however small, that excites you. Maybe you’re dreaming of Yale, of Berkeley, of UT, of Madison (hey, it’s awesome, despite the snow). Why are you in love with that school? Just reminding yourself of the ultimate goal can go a long way towards pushing you forward.

Still frustrated? Imagine logging on to the ACT website and seeing that 36, or 30, or whatever your goal score is, right by your name. Feels good, right?

ACT Study Tips

That’s all well and good, but sometimes you just need to get right down to business. What can you do to get yourself off to a running start?

– Break it down into chunks. There are lots of time management methods, like the Pomodoro Technique, in which you study for a brief period of time and then take a break.

– Take it one problem at a time. Feel overwhelmed with schoolwork and test prep? Every time you complete a homework task, “reward” yourself with just one problem (there are great free resources for practice here). It may not seem like much, but it’ll add up over time.

– Chocolate. Seriously! Studies have shown that small amounts of caffeine and sugar—like what you get in chocolate—can help you focus. Just limit your intake…and make it part of a healthy diet. And don’t eat too much close to bedtime, or you’ll undo all of your good work with accumulated sleep debt.

– Maximize your downtime. Waiting in line? Sitting on the bus? Keep a page or two of practice at the ready so you can boost your studies. Don’t make this the only practice you do, though—it’s best to supplement this with focused, uninterrupted study.

– Reward yourself. Set up a series of rewards to help motivate yourself. These don’t have to be expensive—they might be as simple as taking a break or watching one episode of a favorite show. It helps when there’s a carrot as well as a stick when you’re driving yourself forward!

Remember: you’re doing this for you. For your future. And by putting in a little work now, you’ll get to reap the rewards later—and believe me, it comes sooner than you think!

About Rachel Kapelke-Dale

Rachel is a TOEFL and SAT/ACT blogger at Magoosh. She has a Bachelor of Arts from Brown University, an MA from the Université de Paris VII, and is currently a doctoral candidate at University College London. She has taught the TOEFL for six years, and worked with nearly 1,000 students in that time. Currently, Rachel divides her time between the US and London. When she’s not teaching or studying, she’s either riding (horses), or writing (fiction), a pair of activities that sound so similar that it confuses even native English speakers. Follow Rachel on Twitter, or learn more about her writing here!

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