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Kristin Fracchia

TuesdACT Video: How to Finish the ACT


Whoa, am I EXCITED! Welcome to our very first episode of our ACT video series! Every week, we are going to be bringing you our absolute best tips to help you completely dominate the ACT, and we are starting with, well…the finish.

Why? Because “How do I finish the ACT in time?” is one of the most common questions I get from students who are frustrated because they can’t finish the ACT Reading or because they run out of time to do math problems they know they could do if they only had a few more minutes. So how the heck do you actually finish the ACT on time?

This video walks you through some pacing and timing tips for the ACT that have been proven to work wonders!

First we talk about completing the ACT in “Rounds”

Unlike the SAT, the ACT is not strictly organized within sections from easy to hard. Rather than methodically plodding along from question 1 to question-whatever-you-get-to, think about completing each test in “rounds.” Round 1 is all of the questions you can do without a problem. Round 2 is the questions that you know you can do but are going to take you a little bit longer. Round 3 is the really challenging questions that you really need to think about. This is a great strategy for the entirety of the Math test. On Reading, though, you might want to do rounds within each passage. Go through each set of ten questions, answering the ones you can do quickly and marking the ones to come back to for Round 2. Then check your time (about 8 ½ minutes per passage) and see how much time you have to devote to your Round 2 questions.

Another timesaver is to learn the the most commonly-tested ACT English and Math concepts in advance.

There are certain things the ACT tests on every single test, like punctuation and circles. If you are smart about your study, you learn what appears most frequently on the test, and focus your study there before you move onto the concepts that only might appear on the test. This saves you the time you would spend recalling lessons from school while taking test.

Predicting an answer on the ACT Reading is also a timesaver

No one ever thinks about all the time they waste hemming and hawing over answer choices. If you take the time to come up with an answer in your head first before you look at the answer choices, you will actually save time (not waste it) when you are choosing an answer.

Finally, we talk about how important it is to know how long YOUR ACT is.

It is totally normal not to finish the ACT. There is no shame at all in deciding you need to just focus on 3 of the 4 reading passages to get your best score or 6 of the 7 science passages. This is way better than only half-doing all of the problems as you rush through.

Check out the video for more on how to be well on your way to finishing a really hard test to finish!

About Kristin Fracchia

Kristin makes sure Magoosh's blogs are chock-full of awesome, free resources for students preparing for standardized tests. With a PhD from UC Irvine and degrees in Education and English, she’s been working in education since 2004 and has helped students prepare for standardized tests, as well as college and graduate school admissions, since 2007. She enjoys the agonizing bliss of marathon running, backpacking, hot yoga, and esoteric knowledge.

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