The first challenge of studying for the ACT is finding the time and energy to get started. The second challenge? Committing to your study plan.
If you haven’t already noticed, high school is a game of time management. And of finding a way to complete all your homework, study for your tests, finish your projects, manage all your extracurricular activities, sleep, and maybe even have some time leftover for yourself.
Then, you throw standardized tests into the mix, and your well-organized schedule falls apart at the seams. Don’t be overwhelmed! There are ways to make your life easier. 🙂
Finding an ACT study plan that works for you, and sticking to that plan, can help you stay organized and self-motivated while keeping procrastination at bay. With a good study plan, you’ll study a little bit every day, preventing the weekend-long cram sessions that murder your sleep pattern and social life.
Rather than create your own study guide, from scratch, check out the Magoosh ACT Study Schedules. They list all the materials and resources you’ll need to study for the ACT (many of which are even free), and then give you day by day assignments covering all ACT topics and test strategies.
Click to check out our current study schedules:
How to Use an ACT Study Guide
There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all study schedule. However, adapting a study schedule to your needs shouldn’t take too much effort. Here’s what you do:
1) Honestly assess your ACT strengths and weaknesses.
Do you always struggle with a certain ACT test (that’s what they call each section), or with a certain question type? Focus extra time and energy here. For example, you could do extra practice problems, read up on the subject, or learn specific strategies for outsmarting the ACT’s questions on that subject. Is your problem time management? Practice with a timer, and always answer the easiest questions first.
2) Determine how much time you can realistically devote to your ACT prep.
If you’re working, playing sports, volunteering, and maintaining your course load all at the same time, you probably can’t commit to an hour of ACT prep each day. In this case, you might want to break the One Month ACT Study Schedule into smaller units, and tackle it over two or three months. It’s okay if you need to reschedule your exam to give yourself more time to study. Try to set realistic goals for yourself – it’s important that you have time to sleep!
3) Always check your work and understand where you are making mistakes.
Just doing practice problems won’t improve your ACT score very much. You need to figure out why you miss the problems that you get wrong, and then re-do those problems until you get them right. There’s no use in making the same mistakes over and over during your ACT prep – it just means that you’ll get the same types of problems wrong when they show up on the ACT.
4) Set small goals and keep track of your progress.
Tell yourself – by the end of the week, I will be able to do matrix problems without consulting my notes. Or, decide to follow the One Month Schedule day by day, and reward yourself at the end of the week with a trip to In-N-Out or an hour of TV time. Make sure you’re logging your progress in a notebook, or on your computer, so you can keep track of your goals and note which topics give you the most trouble.
5) Incorporate ACT prep into the rest of your life.
Achieving your goal score on the ACT takes more than just studying. Be sure to eat right, exercise, and get enough sleep. If your body and mind are healthy, you’ll be much more calm and confident heading into this challenge. So, take some meaningful study breaks! Hang out with your friends, watch your favorite show on Netflix, go on a leisurely jog … all in name of test prep. 🙂
That’s it! If you have any questions about the study schedules, or about your own ACT prep, let us know! We’d love to hear from you in the comments section, below. 🙂
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About Rita Neumann
Rita creates fun, inspiring, and educational resources that introduce students to Magoosh and help them prep for their exams. She earned both her BA and Master of Pacific International Affairs from UC San Diego, where she also studied Spanish, French, and Portuguese. Rita loves education and marketing, just as much as she loves vinyasa yoga and baking chocolate chip cookies.
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