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Thomas Broderick

ACT Tricks: Mark It Up!

Aaaaannnnndddddd we’re back! If you’ve read my previous posts on ACT tricks, you’re well on your way to ACT success. Today we’re going to talk about writing on the ACT, but not the ACT Writing Test. We’re not talking about bubbling, either. What it could be?


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Drum roll, please……

Today’s Lesson: Marking up the ACT Test Booklet

“But Mr. B,” you exclaim, “I don’t have time to write in my test booklet! What good could it do me?”

A lot, kid, a whole lot. In this article I will discuss how marking up the test booklet on the ACT Reading, Science, and Math Tests can make you a more organized and successful test taker.


ACT Reading & Science Tests

In a previous article about the ACT Reading Test I explained the importance of reading the questions first and marking proper names/places/things etc. in the passage. In this section, I want to take that ACT trick a step further for ACT Reading and Science.

Let’s say you’ve read a question. You know the topic you’ll be skimming for in the passage/table/chart. The new step is to summarize the question in a word or two. When you first find that topic in the passage, mark it like you normally would and write your one/two-word question summary.

I know using your time to write can be scary. There is so much else to do, after all. But think about the time crunch, and how easy it is to forget something important.


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That’s why writing down essential information is sooooo important for test success. Nothing wastes more time than having to go back to reread something because you forgot it. A simple visual cue will keep you focused as you skim the passage for information.


ACT Math Test

I bet you were already planning to do a little scratch work on the ACT Math Test. There are a lot of equations that will require it. But why use scratch paper when you can write in the test booklet. In addition to saving trees, your eyes won’t have to dark back and forth between scratch paper and the question. And not only will this save time, but also reduce the chance of making careless mistakes.


Final Thoughts

Like any other of my ACT tricks, it’s best to try them out for yourself in a practice test setting. If they don’t work for you, that’s okay. And if you’re still struggling with time management on the ACT, it may be best to put these suggestions on the back burner for the time being.

Good luck with these new ACT tricks, ACT scholars! See you next time!


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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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