So you procrastinated a little bit on your ACT studying. Ok, let’s be honest. A lot. But that’s ok!
The important thing is that you are here now, and you still have a week before the exam. That may not sound like a lot, but there are plenty of things you can do this week to boost your confidence and your score before the big day.
If you have landed on this post because you have been studying, but are wondering what you can do in this last week before test day, that’s great too! This study schedule can provide an excellent final refresher and review to make sure you have all your bases covered.
This schedule assumes that you have about 3-4 hours a day to devote to your studying (with the exception of the full practice test day, during which you’ll need 4-5 hours). Hopefully, this is a manageable amount for one week of cramming balanced with your schoolwork. If it is too much, you can adjust the plan to focus primarily on reviewing your weaknesses and taking practice sections. If it is too little, there are plenty of extra practice tests that will be left in the The Real ACT Prep Guide for you to add on an extra practice section or two a day.
- Magoosh ACT Premium Account
- Preparing for the ACT guide (free online)
- The Real ACT Prep Guide (go get it right now from a bookstore or library if you don’t have it already). If you need to wait a day or two to order it online and get it delivered, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered on Days 1 and 2 of this study schedule; we won’t use it right away.
- Magoosh ACT Blog
- ACT Flashcards from Magoosh
- ACT Lessons App
- Magoosh free ACT eBook
Day 1 (Sunday if you are taking a Saturday test)
- Familiarize yourself with the structure, timing, and strategies of the test (1 hour)
- Take a Diagnostic Test (3.5 to 4 hours with breaks)
- There is a complete practice test at the end of the Preparing for the ACT guide. I’m scheduling this practice for Sunday because most students will likely have more time today than on a weekday when they are also in school, but if this is not the case, you can also move your practice test to Day 2, 3, or 4, but NOT Day 5 or 6. Too close to the test and you will risk burning out.
- If you are really struggling to find enough time in a day, you can split this practice test over two days. It’s not ideal, but doing two sections back to back will help you practice the endurance and mental gear shifting required by the ACT more than just doing one section at a time.
- Make sure that you can find a quiet space with NO DISTRACTIONS. No TV, no internet, and no cell phone. Make sure to notify people in your household that you are taking a practice test and hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door. Even better, enlist a parent or other responsible family member to act as a proctor and come in to periodically announce “time’s up” for each section.
- On the ACT, the essay section is optional. If you are taking the essay, make sure to plan and write a full practice essay in the allotted time. If you are not taking the essay, you can skip the essay on this practice test and the essay prep stuff below.
- Ask a parent, teacher, or literary older sibling or friend to read over your essay, provide you with feedback, and score it using the complete scoring rubric linked on this page.
- Review your practice test (30 minutes)
- Complete the following tasks as you review:
- Examine any time management issues you had. Where did you run out of time and why? Did you make sure to take a guess on every question?
- Review every single question you got wrong and start keeping an error log. In your error log, list each question you got wrong, noting:
- why you got it wrong
- what the correct answer is
- what you would do next time to avoid making the same mistake
- Complete the following tasks as you review:
- Watch these essential strategy lesson videos from Magoosh ACT. (60 minutes)
- Using Key Terms
- Pacing on the ACT Science Test
- How to Read the ACT Science Test
- All of the videos under the heading Punctuation
- Go to the the Custom Practice tab on Magoosh and answer 40 questions in either English. (25 minutes)
- Update your error log with notes on the questions you struggled with (15 minutes).
- Take a break, then watch these essential strategy lesson videos from Magoosh ACT. (30 minutes)
- Approaching Passages
- Wrong Answers
- Example Passage
- Basic Strategies
- Review the math concepts tested on the ACT Math section. See the ACT Math page on the Magoosh ACT Blog for a list of math concepts tested on the ACT and use the Magoosh ACT Math lessons and your math book to brush up on concepts you have learned in school but are particularly fuzzy on. Read this handy resource on math formulas to know as well: ACT Math Facts and Formulas. (30-60 minutes)
- Watch at least 5 Magoosh Math lessons on the topics you most need to review. There are a lot of math lesson videos in Magoosh, and you only have a few days before the test, so we want you to focus on what you need to review the most on this section! (30-60 minutes)
- Watch these key Magoosh ACT lesson videos (60 minutes)
- Using Key Words
- Main Idea
- Meaning of Words
- Backsolving (Algebra)
- VICs – Picking numbers (Algebra)
- Assumptions & Estimation (Geometry)
- Complete 40 Reading Questions in Magoosh by clicking on Custom Practice and choosing Reading for the Section (35 minutes).
- Watch these key Magoosh ACT lesson videos (60 minutes).
- Understanding Tables, Graphs, and Figures
- Finding Trends and Patterns
- Linking Tables and Graphs
- The Conflicting Viewpoints Passage
- All of the videos under the heading Rhetorical Skills
- Go to the the Custom Practice tab on Magoosh and answer 40 questions in Science (35 minutes)
- Continue to update your error log with notes on the questions you struggled with (15 minutes).
- Watch these key Magoosh ACT lesson videos (90 minutes).
- Math Problems on the ACT Science Test
- Answering “Yes/No, Because” Questions
- Finding Clues in the Answer Choices
- All of the videos on Grammar and Usage and Sentence Structure
- Complete practice sections of English and Math in The Real ACT Prep Guide. (1 hour 45 minutes).
- Continue to update your error log with notes on the questions you struggled with (15 to 30 minutes).
- Continue to review math if necessary and if you have time (30 minutes to 1 hour).
For ACT Writing Test-Takers:
- If you are taking the essay, review the information on the new ACT essay on the ACT student website if you didn’t already do so on Day 1 and this blog post with strategy advice for the essay: The New ACT Essay. (15 minutes)
- Using the practice test feature on Magoosh, skip to the Writing section and practice planning, outlining, and writing the essay provided in the 40-minute time limit (40 minutes).
- If you have time (or if writing is a weakness), there are additional lesson videos on the essay you can watch on Magoosh ACT.
For All Test-Takers:
- Watch these key Magoosh ACT lesson videos (60-90 minutes).
- Line Reference
- Author’s Method (Purpose)
- Author’s Voice
- 5 lessons on the topics you most need to review
- Complete practice sections of Reading and Science in The Real Guide (70 minutes).
- Complete a practice section of either your strongest section or weakest section. (35-60 minutes)
- There are pros and cons to either approach. Since your ACT is a composite score based on averaging all of your section scores, you can pull up your overall composite score by improving your score in a subject you are already good at. Practicing your strongest section can also help you build confidence this close to the test. If you have one section that is dragging your other scores down though, your time might be better spent today doing extra practice on your weakest section.
- Continue to update your error log with notes on the questions you struggled with (15 min).
- Review your error log and make yourself a “cheat sheet” of final reminders to review the morning of the exam. This can include things like “Watch out for run-on sentences!” and “The area of a trapezoid is (base 1 + base 2)/2 * height.” (1 hour)
- Review these last-minute test day tips: ACT Tips for Test Day and pack your bag (30 min).
- If you have time, do 1 to 2 practice sections in The Real ACT Prep Guide of the subjects you feel you most need to review, but if tomorrow is the big day, the most important thing you can do tonight is get a good night of sleep.
- It’s test day, which means no last minute prep! Do some light exercise, eat a full breakfast, and give yourself plenty of time to get to the test center. Don’t forget your #2 pencils, calculator, watch, drink, snack, admissions ticket, and photo ID.
- Review your list of last-minute pointers before you go into the testing center so you can walk into the test confident that you have put in the hard work and are ready to show it!