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Kristin Fracchia

One Month ACT Study Schedule

One Month ACT Study Schedule Banner

So you have one month until your ACT test date, and you are ready to commit to some serious study. Average isn’t good enough for you; you want to make sure your scores show you off at your absolute best.

Sound like you? Then check out the study plan below! If you follow this plan, by the time you walk into the testing center, you will have completed six full ACT tests–and that’s some pretty good prep under your belt!

(Oops, you procrastinated, you say? Never fear, we have a 1 Week ACT Study Schedule as well.)

Time Requirement

This schedule assumes that you have at least 3 days a week to devote to your study and about 2-3.5 hours on each of these days. It also assumes that you will be able to set aside 4 to 4.5 hours on a couple weekends for a practice test, plus some review time. (If you are taking the test with extra time, you’ll need to build in more time based on whether you have received time-and-a-half or double time/multi-day testing.) Hopefully, this is a manageable amount of study time balanced with your schoolwork and activities.

If it seems like too much, you can adjust the plan to focus primarily on reviewing your weaknesses and taking practice sections, or you can divide each day between two days, so that you are doing about an hour to an hour and a half of prep a day. If you are unable to set aside a 4-5 hour chunk of time on the weekend, you can split this up into two sessions. It’s not ideal, but it is certainly better than nothing.

Materials

 

Week 1, Day 1: Introduction and Math

 

  • Familiarize yourself with the structure, timing, and strategies of the test. (1 hour)
  • Review the math concepts tested on the ACT Math section. (1 hour)
    • 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.
    • Watch at least 5 Magoosh Math lessons on the topics you most need to review. Write down a list of the other videos you need to watch when this homework assignment comes up in the future (it will!). There are a lot of math lesson videos in Magoosh, and you only have one month, so we want you to focus on what you need to review the most on this section. (30-60 minutes)
    • In addition to the above, watch these essential math strategy videos to learn some tricks for solving ACT math questions in a “non-math class” way (30 minutes):
      • Backsolving (Word Problems)
      • VICs – Picking numbers (Word Problems)
      • Assumptions & Estimation (Geometry)
    • Review this list of ACT math formulas to know (15 minutes): ACT Math Facts and Formulas. Remember, unlike the SAT, the ACT does not have a list of geometry formulas at the beginning of the test!

 

Week 1, Day 2: English and Science

 

  • Watch these essential Magoosh ACT English video lessons (60 minutes):
    • All videos under the heading Punctuation
    • Subject Verb Agreement
    • Verb Tense
  • Answer 30 Magoosh English Practice questions by clicking on Custom Practice and choosing English for the Section. (20 minutes)
  • Review the Magoosh text and/or video explanations for any questions you got wrong, and start keeping an error log with notes on the questions you struggled with. In your error log, list each question you got wrong noting: 1. Why you got it wrong 2. What the correct answer is 3. What you would do next time to avoid making the same mistake (15-30 minutes)
  • Watch these essential Magoosh ACT Science video lessons (35 minutes)
    • Using Key Terms
    • Pacing on the ACT Science Test
    • How to Read the ACT Science Test
    • The Conflicting Viewpoints Passage
  • Take a break and then answer 40 Magoosh ACT Science questions by clicking on Custom Practice and choosing Science for the Section; make sure to review your error log before you begin so you can be on the lookout for the same question types that tripped you up the first time. (35 minutes)
  • Review the Magoosh text and/or video explanations for any questions you got wrong, and continue to update your error log. (15-30 minutes)

 

Week 1, Day 3: Reading and Essay

 

  • Watch these key Magoosh ACT Reading lesson videos (30 minutes):
    • Approaching Passages
    • Wrong Answers
    • Example Passage
    • Basic Strategies
  • Answer 40 Reading questions on Magoosh by clicking on Custom Practice and choosing Reading for the Section. (35 minutes)
  • Review the Magoosh text and/or video explanations for any questions you got wrong and continue to update your error log. (15-30 minutes)
  • Take a break and then complete the Reading Test from Practice Test 1 in The Real Guide; make sure to review your error log before you begin. (35 minutes)
  • Check your answers and update your error log. (15-30 minutes)
  • If you are taking the essay, check out this blog post for advice on approaching the new ACT essay question and watch the following essential Magoosh ACT Writing lesson videos:
    • How to Wow the Graders
    • Example Essay Prompt
    • Planning the Essay
    • Structuring the Essay
  • Practice outlining an essay for this sample ACT Writing question. Then review the essay scoring guidelines and read the sample essays on actstudent.org for this prompt. Pay attention to what gets an essay a high score.

 

Week 1, Weekend: Practice Test

 

  • Take a Practice Test (4 hours with breaks)
    • There is a complete practice test at the end of the Preparing for the ACT for you to use for this diagnostic. I’m scheduling this practice for the weekend 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 tests to any day during the week.
    • As I mentioned in the beginning of this guide, 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 at least 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. Ask a parent, teacher, or literary older sibling or friend to read over your essay, provide you with feedback, and score it using the rubric linked on this page.
  • Review your practice test. (30 minutes to 1 hour)
    • Complete the following tasks as you review:
      • Rank your sections from strongest to weakest. Is there a big gap between your strongest and weakest section or were your scores pretty close across the board? The greater the difference between your stronger and weaker sections, the more you will want to focus any extra practice time you have on your weaknesses so these lower scores aren’t pulling your composite score down.
      • 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 before time ran out?
      • 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

 

Week 2, Day 1: Math

 

  • Watch 5 Magoosh ACT Math lesson videos on the math concepts you most need to review (30-60 minutes).
  • Answer 25 Math questions on Magoosh by clicking on Custom Practice and choosing Math for the Section (you can further customize these questions to your weaknesses by selecting categories to practice, such as Coordinate Geometry or Trigonometry). (25 minutes)
  • Review the Magoosh text and/or video explanations for any questions you got wrong and continue to update your error log. (15-30 minutes)
  • Complete the Math Test from Practice Test 1 in The Real ACT Guide. (60 minutes)
  • Check your answers and the guide’s explanations and update your error log. (15-30 minutes)

 

Week 2, Day 2: English and Science

 

  • Review this list of science topics. These are some of the terms that could potentially appear on the handful of questions that require actual scientific knowledge. Create a list of definitions for any terms you don’t know, but do not fret too much about it. This is primarily to help you feel more comfortable with science; only a few questions on the test will require outside knowledge. (30 minutes)
  • Watch the following key Magoosh ACT Science video lessons on reading tables, figures, and graphs and finding patterns and trends on and between them. This is by far the most essential skill you can build to boost your Science score (25 minutes):
    • Understanding Tables, Graphs, and Figures
    • Finding Trends and Patterns
    • Linking Tables and Graphs
  • Complete the Science Test from Practice Test 1 in The Real ACT Guide (35 minutes)
  • Check your answers and the guide’s explanations and update your error log with notes on the questions you struggled with. (15-30 minutes)
  • Watch these essential Magoosh ACT English lesson videos (35 minutes):
    • Adjectives and Adverbs
    • Pronoun Cases
    • Idioms
    • Run-on Sentences and Comma Splices
    • Misplaced Modifiers
    • Parallelism
  • Take a break and then complete 45 Magoosh English practice questions; make sure to review your error log before you begin so you can be watching out for the same question types that tripped you up the first time. (30 minutes)
  • Review the video/text explanations for questions you struggled with, and update your error log. (15-30 minutes)

 

Week 2, Day 3: Reading and Essay

 

  • Watch the following key Magoosh ACT Reading lesson videos (35 minutes):
    • Using Key Words
    • Main Idea
    • Comparison Passages
    • Inference
  • Complete the Reading Test from Practice Test 1 in The Real ACT Guide. (35 minutes)
  • Check your answers and the guide’s explanations and update your error log with notes on the questions you struggled with. (15-30 minutes)
  • If you are not taking the essay (or if you have time), take a break and then complete the Reading Test from Practice Test 2 in The Real Guide; make sure to review your error log before you begin so you can be watching out for the same question types that tripped you up the first time and continue to update your error log after you review your questions. (45 minutes)
  • If you are taking the essay, watch the following Magoosh ACT Writing lesson videos (30 minutes):
    • The Introduction
    • The Body Paragraphs
    • The Conclusion
    • Top Grammar Rules for the Essay
  • Using the practice test feature on Magoosh, skip to the Writing section and practice planning, outlining, and writing the essay provided (40 minutes).

 

Week 2, Weekend: Practice Test

 

  • Take Practice Test 5 in The Real ACT Guide. Make sure to review your error log before you begin so that the mistakes you want to avoid are fresh in your mind. And all the same rules as Weekend 1 apply. Make sure to find a quiet place and to complete the practice test in the allotted time limits. Remember that the ACT essay has changed and is no longer the same as the prompts in The Real Guide, 3rd edition–so don’t do the essay. (3.5 hours)
  • Update your error log after you are done. (30 minutes)

 

Week 3, Day 1: Science

 

  • Watch the following Magoosh ACT Science strategy lesson videos (25 minutes):
    • Unfamiliar Terms
    • Math Problems on the ACT Science Test
    • The Scientific Method
  • Complete the Science Test from Practice Test 2 in The Real ACT Guide. (35 minutes)
  • Check your answers and the guide’s explanations and update your error log with notes on the questions you struggled with. (15-30 minutes)
  • Take a break and then complete the Science Test from Practice Test 3; make sure to review your error log before you begin so you can be watching out for the same question types that tripped you up the first time. (35 minutes)
  • Check your answers and the guide’s explanations and continue to update your error log. (15-30 minutes)

 

Week 3, Day 2: Math

 

  • Watch 5 Magoosh ACT Math lesson videos on the math concepts you most need to review. (30-60 minutes)
  • Complete the Math Test from Practice Test 2 in The Real ACT Guide. (60 minutes)
  • Check your answers and the guide’s explanations and update your error log with notes on the questions you struggled with. (15-30 minutes)
  • Take a break and then complete the Math Test from Practice Test 3; make sure to review your error log before you begin so you can be watching out for the same question types that tripped you up the first time. (60 minutes)
  • Check your answers and the guide’s explanations and continue to update your error log. (15-30 minutes)

 

Week 3, Day 3: Reading

 

  • Watch the following Magoosh ACT Reading video lessons (25 minutes):
    • Meaning of Words
    • Line Reference
    • Author’s Method (Purpose)
    • Author’s Voice
  • Complete the Reading Test from Practice Test 2 in The Real ACT Guide. (35 minutes)
  • Check your answers and the guide’s explanations and update your error log with notes on the questions you struggled with. (15-30 minutes)
  • Take a break and then complete the Reading Test from Practice Test 3; make sure to review your error log before you begin so you can be watching out for the same question types that tripped you up the first time. (35 minutes)
  • Check your answers and the guide’s explanations and continue to update your error log. (15-30 minutes)

 

Week 3, Weekend: Rest or Practice Test

Option 1:

  • Take a break! I generally recommend that students take it easy the weekend before the test so they are not burned out when they take it for real the following weekend. If you feel like you want to do some more prep, this is a good time to brush up on any grammar or math concepts you are struggling with or do extra practice on your weakest sections of the ACT.

Option 2:

  • If you feel like you’ve got the grit to do another practice test this weekend (and be recovered for the real deal next weekend), or if you slacked on previous practice test weekends, you can do Practice Test 4 from The Real ACT Prep Guide and follow the instructions for Week 2, Weekend.

 

Week 4, Day 1: English

 

  • Watch these essential Magoosh ACT English lesson videos (60 minutes):
    • All of the lessons under the heading Rhetorical Strategy, Organization, and Style
  • Complete the English Test from Practice Test 2 in The Real ACT Guide. (45 minutes)
  • Check your answers and the guide’s explanations and update your error log with notes on the questions you struggled with. (15-30 minutes)
  • If time allows, take a break and then complete the English Test from Practice Test 3; make sure to review your error log before you begin so you can be watching out for the same question types that tripped you up the first time. (45 minutes)
  • Check your answers and the guide’s explanations and continue to update your error log. (15-30 minutes)

 

Week 4, Day 2: Science and Math

 

  • Watch the following Magoosh ACT Science advanced strategy lesson videos (25 minutes):
    • Answering “Yes/No, Because” Questions
    • Finding Clues in the Answer Choices
  • Complete the Science Test from Practice Test 3 in The Real ACT Guide. (35 minutes)
  • Check your answers and the guide’s explanations and update your error log with notes on the questions you struggled with. (15-30 minutes)
  • Take a break and then complete 40 Science questions, either from the practice problems on actstudent.org or from Magoosh Science; make sure to review your error log before you begin so you can be watching out for the same question types that tripped you up the first time. (35 minutes)
  • Check your answers and the guide’s explanations and continue to update your error log. (15-30 minutes)
  • Answer 40 Magoosh Math questions by clicking on Custom Practice and choosing Science for the Section; make sure to review your error log before you begin so you can be on the lookout for the same question types that tripped you up the first time. (35 minutes)

 

Week 4, Day 3: Final Review

 

  • Review your entire 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).
  • Relax. Do something you enjoy. Go to bed early for at least several days before the test.

 

Test Day

 

  • 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 a month of hard work and are ready to show it!

 

Questions? Comments? Leave them below and I’ll respond as soon as possible. 🙂

 

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About Kristin Fracchia

Kristin makes sure Magoosh's blogs are chock-full of awesome, free resources for students preparing for standardized tests. With a PhD from UC Irvine and degrees in Education and English, she’s been working in education since 2004 and has helped students prepare for standardized tests, as well as college and graduate school admissions, since 2007. She enjoys the agonizing bliss of marathon running, backpacking, hot yoga, and esoteric knowledge.


2 Responses to “One Month ACT Study Schedule”

  1. apekchha says:

    Hello,
    What premium act account is required?

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