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Thomas Broderick

PreACT: How to Study

A long, long time ago (Spring 2002), I was but a wee high school sophomore. One morning all the sophomores sat down in the library and took the PLAN Test, which was the PreACT back in the day. Despite not studying, I did pretty well for a first-timer: 28. Over the next couple of months, I got dozens of interest letters from colleges all around the country. Yet all was not well. When I filled out my bubble sheet, I incorrectly spelled my own name. All those college interest letters were addressed to someone named ‘Thomas Brodrick.’


PreACT: How to Study -Magoosh


Though I should have studied spelling a bit harder before taking the PLAN Test, I’m here today to talk about studying for the PreACT. Like PLAN, the PreACT is your first chance to let colleges and scholarships know what you’re made of. The copious letters and emails you’ll receive afterwards will provide a small mountain of information about future opportunities.

What is the PreACT?

As the name implies, the PreACT is a test that predicts a student’s performance on the actual ACT. It is not high stakes, meaning that colleges do not use the results in admissions decisions. Also, unlike the PSAT, scholarships do not use PreACT results to award financial aid.

The PreACT tests the same four subjects found on the ACT: English, Math, Reading, and Science. Many of the questions on the PreACT are from old ACT tests. Yet the test itself is only two hours long, a full hour less than the actual ACT. As it’s designed to help you prepare for the ACT, the PreACT is scored on the same 1-36 scale.

Now that we know a little bit about the test, let’s talk about studying for test day!

How do I study?

Since the PreACT is administered to 10th graders, I’m going to assume I’m talking to students without a lot of (or any) standardized testing experience. If that’s the case, there are a few study tricks you need to know before hitting the books.

If you’re new to standardized tests, time management is key. As the PreACT closely resembles the ACT, try taking a full-length ACT practice test to expose yourself to the ACT’s format and content. But before doing that, make sure to check out my article on ACT Time Management and apply a few of my tricks to your practice test.

Focus on your weaknesses. After taking your first practice test, analyze the results. Though seeing low scores is a bummer, they simply indicate where you need to focus your energy. Start with your weaknesses as you study for the PreACT. If there is time, move on to your stronger subjects for review and polishing.

Are there other study tips and tricks? Yes, but for the PreACT, you want to focus on what’s most important. After you receive your results (two weeks after the test), you can start delving into the advanced study tricks as you prepare to take the ACT as a junior.

Final Thoughts

No matter your score on the PreACT, the results are an invaluable tool as you prepare to take the ACT. Consider the PreACT the most accurate practice test you will ever take. So take it seriously, but don’t fret about the results. It’s just the first step on a long journey.

Till next time, Magooshers.

About Thomas Broderick

Thomas spent four years teaching high school English, social studies, and ACT preparation in Middle Tennessee. Now living in Northern California, he is excited to share his knowledge and experience with Magoosh's readers. In his spare time Thomas enjoys writing short fiction and hiking in the Sonoma foothills.

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