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Thomas Broderick

ACT Tricks: Under Pressure

“Pressure pushing down on me…pressing down on you.” Sorry, kids; I was just singing along to Queen. Wait, you don’t know the rock band Queen? Hmmm…let’s see if we can kill two birds with one stone with this ACT tricks lesson. It is decided: I’m putting band members Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor, and John Deacon in the driver’s seat for:

Today’s Lesson: Putting yourself “Under Pressure” in preparing for the ACT.


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Freddie Mercury wasn’t afraid of the ACT (because he was British).


Before we get started, let me clear something up. Pressure and stress, though related, aren’t the same thing. Pressure is something beyond our control, and on test day, will be the same for everyone in the room with you. Stress, the way we react to pressure, is something we can deal with. The goal of this article is allow you to slowly ramp up the pressure in your study routine without triggering any unwanted stress. Let’s get to it!


Timed Practice Tests

As I’ve said before on what feels like “’39” occasions, time practice tests are the best way to prepare for the ACT. Why am I rehashing this common knowledge? Having taught 9-12th grade, I know it can be the hardest ACT trick to follow. If you want to win, you need to learn how to “Play the Game” by the rules.

I get it, “It’s a Hard Life,” and setting aside a chunk of time for time practice tests can be a hassle. But if you’re one of the many students who suffer from test anxiety, exposure to the real deal can lessen stress.

More importantly, in this lesson I want to introduce an advanced ACT trick. If you’re comfortable taking time practice tests, try shaving off a few minutes from the timer during your next practice session. I know it seems “Stone Cold Crazy” to do so, but if you can successfully finish (and do well) on a test in less time, the actual thing will seem all the easier. Again, if you’re still having trouble with time management, let this advanced trick chill on the back burner.

Your Testing Environment

So where exactly are you taking these practice tests? In your crowded bedroom? At a kitchen table inhabited by countless other family members and pets? If you feel that you’re on the verge of screaming “Save Me,” we need to find you a new testing location.

So where do you go? If you have your own transportation, I’d recommend the local library. It’s quiet, calm, and in most cases the only sound is the ticking clock. If that’s not available, you wouldn’t be the first person in the world to lock themselves in their closet with a lamp and his/her test materials. In fact, you’d be in “Good Company.”


Final Thoughts

Apply these two ACT Tricks in your study habits and that future Saturday test date will go great. You’ll find yourself leaving the testing center with only one thought on your mind:


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I hope this article has expanded your ACT (and musical) education just a bit. See you “Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon” the day after test day!


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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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