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Kristin Fracchia

How to Study for the ACT over Winter Break

Winter break is a GREAT time to start studying for the ACT. February test date, I’m looking at you! The February ACT is typically administered during the first weekend in February, which means that if you start studying over your winter break, you should have a little more than a solid month to study (depending on when exactly your break occurs.)

And if you are gearing up for the April ACT, like many juniors, that means you have a little more than three months to study, which is FANTASTIC. This is a good amount of time for most students to reach their goals (at least for a first go at the test).

I can tell you are getting just as excited about studying for the ACT over winter break as I am for you, so let’s talk about how you can make the most of this unicorn-like opportunity.

5 Reasons Prepping Over Break is Brilliant

Your knowledge is fresh.

Unlike summer break, you’re in the middle of your school year and knowledge is fresh in your mind.If you’re a junior, you’re probably being relentless drilled in school on many of the topics covered on the ACT, so you can use winter break to brush up on the topics and skills you need a refresher on, rather than EVERYTHING (like during summer).

You have time for a full-length practice test…

maybe even two or three! Depending on what else you have going on, the giant gap left in a typical weekday by a lack of school gives you some big blocks of time that you otherwise only get on weekends. Use this to your advantage to schedule, say, a Tuesday full-length practice test and leave the weekend to a ski trip. Full-length practice tests are the single best thing you can do to improve your ACT scores, so put in the effort. It’s really easy to want to slack off and do nothing over winter break, but you’ll be glad you put in the time when school starts up again.

(If you are not sure which test you want to take, winter break is a great time to do a practice test of both the ACT and the new SAT and compare your results.)

ACT prep is a great excuse.

ACT prep makes for an excellent excuse not to hang out with annoying cousins (or other relatives). It’s hard for parents to argue when you say you need to study. So break out some test prep books or online resources (we’re ok if you check in on Instagram every hour or so–it’s winter break after all!) and have some me-time.

You can use travel time to your advantage.

If you’re traveling for the holidays, take your ACT prep books in the car and do some practice problems to help make the time go by faster. If your family is game, create a fun competition to see who can get the most ACT Math questions, Reading questions, etc. right. It’s really fun to embarrass your parents this way. If you have a wifi connection on a train or plane, you can study with Magoosh or other online resources on your phone or laptop. Holiday travel often means a lot of downtime; don’t squander it on Snapchat. Again, you’ll be glad you didn’t come test day.

You can create a short-term plan.

Often studying for the ACT or SAT can seem like a monster task. Since winter break is normally only a week or two (or three if you are lucky), this is a great opportunity to practice creating a short-term study plan that you only need to promise yourself you will stick to for a week or two. (And then you can convince yourself to keep studying afterwards, but don’t worry about that yet). Use a day planner or calendar to map out what you are going to study and for how much time each day and check off your completed tasks as you finish them. You will feel so accomplished. Our one week and one month study schedules are a great place to start. You can use them as-is or customize them to your schedule.
Happy relaxing and happy studying!


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About Kristin Fracchia

Dr. Kristin Fracchia makes sure Magoosh's sites are full of awesome, free resources that can be found by students prepping 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 agony and bliss of trail running, backpacking, hot yoga, and esoteric knowledge.

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