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Jon Chang

Your Checklist to Saturday’s ACT



You’ve got a few days before the big exam on Saturday, so what should you do? Follow this list and you’ll be in great shape come test day.


Review instead of study. You know what your strongest and weakest sections are, and you also probably know what types of questions in those sections you tend to get wrong. If your weakest section is math, spend some time on topics that you struggle with, but balance it out with problems that you do okay on. Don’t forget that Magoosh has plenty of tips and tricks devoted to each of the five test sections (English, Math, Reading, Science, and Writing).

If there’s a specific topic you don’t know how to handle on the test and you can’t find the answer on our blog, show it to one of your teachers and ask if they have some time to meet after school this week to help you out. What you don’t want to do is cram new material. You’ve spent several weeks preparing for this test, so the best thing you can do is review what you’ve learned.

Sleep well. You might think you only need to get a good night’s sleep right before the test day, but that’s not true. You want to get into the habit of sleeping at a regular and reasonable time every night this week. It’s like when a kids try to go to sleep early on Christmas Eve so they can wake up super early on Christmas Day and get to their presents earlier. Chances are that they stayed awake all night due to their own excitement and anxiety. Don’t be like those kids. Get into a regular sleep schedule starting today so you don’t become overexcited Friday night and unable to sleep.



Again, you’ve already put in a lot of hours in studying for this test. You don’t need to study, review, memorize, or anything like that tonight. You don’t want to jeopardize your sleep schedule. What you need to do is relax in your own home. Take a bath. Read a fun book. Meditate. Do whatever you need to do to keep calm, since you want to be as refreshed as you can be on test day.

Pack your ACT bag. Since you’re already not doing anything on Friday night, you should make sure you have all your ACT things in your bag. If you end up waiting until Saturday morning, you increase the chances of forgetting something or arriving late to your test center. It’s better to get it out of the way while you’re calm. You’ll want to make sure you have the following packed and ready to go:

– Paper copy of your ACT Registration Ticket (which you can get from ACT’s website)
– Photo ID (driver’s license/permit, school ID, or ACT identification letter, visit this website for more details on acceptable forms of identification)
– At least three sharpened #2 pencils with good erasers (side note: test the eraser if it’s a new pencil, since some new erasers need to be broken in like a pair of shoes, but also I’m weird)
– Your calculator, along with a set of new batteries (you probably know if your calculator is ACT-approved, but double check this website just to be safe)
– Small snack and water (to eat during that break between math and reading, Cheetos not recommended because orange fingers are gross)

Don’t forget to set your alarm. You’re supposed to arrive at 8:00 AM, so make sure you plan enough time to wake up, eat breakfast, get ready, and drive over to the test center. You may want to set it even earlier so that you arrive at the center at 7:45, just to be on the safe side.



Wake up after you wake up. You’ve probably set your alarm super early compared to when you’re used to waking up on a normal Saturday morning (or afternoon if you’re a particularly late sleeper). You don’t want to be groggy when you walk into the test center, so do whatever you need to do to get alert. Take a shower, go for a run around the block, sing your favorite song, you do you. You’ll want to wake up your mind too so that your brain’s warmed up by the time it sees the first English question. Do a few easy math problems or read something in the newspaper. Something easy but gets your brain warmed up so you’re ready to go when you read the first English question.

Pro Tip: Review your ACT Cheat Sheet

Eat some breakfast. You don’t need to go to Denny’s and order pancakes, eggs, bacon, and a glass of orange juice, but you should at least eat something. In addition to the time it takes to complete the English section (1 hour) and the Math section (1 hour), you have to deal with the general testing procedure. Your break might not come until 10:30 or 11:00 AM, depending on how efficient your proctor is. It’s better to eat something before you go than risk a hunger attack in the middle of the test.

Get to the test center with time to spare. Take some time to look up the location of where you’re taking the test, and figure out the best route to get there. Make sure your car has a full tank of gas. Maybe even ask a parent to drive you so that you have extra time to relax in the morning. If it takes 20 minutes to get there from your house, leave 40 minutes before the test starts. It’s important to give yourself some wiggle room so you don’t get thrown by unexpected delays.


Last Minute ACT Resources

We may not be able to tell you exactly which questions you’ll come across, but the format and general content of the exam is not at all mysterious. To ease your nerves, take a look at some of these helpful posts:

ACT Practice
Top Ten Things to Avoid Doing on Your ACT Test Day
Ten Tips to Rock the Pacing on the ACT Test

Any questions, concerns, or feelings that you need to get out into the open? Leave us a comment below and we’ll get back to you ASAP.



About Jon Chang

Jon has a degree in neuroscience from Johns Hopkins University and a degree in science journalism from New York University. It's safe to say that he's learned a lot of things over the past decade, but he's learned how to write about those things too. All the while, he’s been tutoring students, helping them better understand their own coursework and showing them how to crack the code of the SAT and ACT. When he's not doing that, you can usually find him singing, playing violin, or coming up with bad puns.

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