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Susanna Langholm

ACT Performance Killer #1: Poor Time Management (Reading Edition)

Identifying and Attacking this ACT Performance Killer!

Don’t let this be you on game day!

Procrastination: We’ve all been there. Whether we get easily distracted, put off work we find too overwhelming or intimidating, or, hey, we just have better things to do, sometimes we start a task behind schedule- and then it’s too late. As much as we can all relate to this, though, it’s a risky game to play on the ACT- and sometimes test-takers don’t even know they’re doing it. With even the best of our intentions, it is difficult to give the maximum number of questions the maximum amount of attention to get that maximum number of points.

It is time to come up with a game PLAN. These strategies will keep you moving through ruts and progressing at the right pace, so that time will be on your side:

Pacing for ACT Reading

    1) Once you start on a passage, commit to it. Going in test order may not be so important, but not wasting time jumping back and forth is. Valuable time will be lost confusing yourself, and even those precious page-turning seconds should not be wasted.
    2) Don’t pore over the passage. Since ACT writers only include questions that should respond to your understanding of the passage after a few minutes of reading, spending that extra time won’t help you answer the questions. Be attentive, but also quick: You don’t want to do all that careful reading to not be able to get the correct answers to show for it.
    3) Take the Guesswork out of Guessing. Unlike on the SAT, there is no penalty for guessing on the ACT. If you have only a matter of seconds to finish a question without even taking the time to read it, you should- and your chances of getting it right expand greatly with each answer choice you are able to eliminate. Unless you are aiming for a 30+, some guesswork won’t kill your score. Of course, with effective time management, you should only need to resort to guessing on a handful of the more challenging questions.


Want to learn more ACT Reading test strategies? These posts are for you. 🙂


About Susanna Langholm

Susanna holds a BA in Education & Liberal Studies from Smith College and has spent the better part of her college and post-graduate years helping students achieve success both in and outside of the classroom. Most recently, Susanna served as the Assistant Director for a tutoring franchise catering to college-bound exam prep students, learning a thing or two about the ACT in the process. When she’s not navigating the test-taking waters for the sake of her students, Susanna can be found reading, writing on her education blog, skiing, or planning a future filled with international travel - her favorite (but most expensive) hobby.

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