So you’ve just signed up for the ACT (or at least you know it’s coming up sometime in your future). Congratulations! You’re now ready to start some test prep. But where do you begin? How do you start preparing for such a monumental task?
Whew, let’s take a deep breath and break it down in this week’s TuesdACT video.
Step 1: Familiarize yourself with the exam.
If you’ve taken the PLAN in school once or twice, you are probably decently familiar with the ACT. If you have no idea what the ACT is, check out the Preparing for the ACT guide on the actstudent.org website or the introductory chapters in The Real ACT Prep Guide. You can also use the Magoosh ACT Blog to learn about what is tested on each section of the ACT. Then once you know a little bit about the test, you are ready to:
Step 2: Take an official practice test as a diagnostic.
There’s a full-length test in the Preparing for the ACT guide and five more in The Real ACT Prep Guide. Take your diagnostic test after you’ve familiarized yourself a little bit with the test format; you will obtain a more accurate assessment of your abilities this way than if you take it completely cold with no idea what to expect. Once you’ve checked your answers and obtained your scores, assess your strengths and weaknesses. Are you way better at Science than Reading? Have you completely forgotten your Geometry lessons?
Step 3: Determine a goal score.
Goals are really important to help keep you motivated. Is there a certain score you need to achieve to be competitive at your target colleges? Are there certain scholarships you would like to obtain that require certain scores? Find out the numbers and then set a goal for yourself that is challenging but not unrealistic. Once you know what your target score is, you can better determine how long you need to study and how many times you might need to take the test.
Step 4: Start studying!
You have basically three options for test prep: a tutor, a class, or self-study. There are pros and cons to each of these options. At Magoosh, we offer something that combines a lot of the pros of each of these methods. Magoosh is basically guided self-study; you make your own decisions on the lessons you want to watch and questions you want to practice with, but we also offer study plans for you to follow (similar to a class) and tutors you can email at anytime with questions. But this doesn’t necessarily mean Magoosh is the best option for you—maybe a tutor or a class would help you get the most out of your test prep. Commit to whatever is the best method for you, but the important thing is that you have a plan–one that will hold you accountable as you pursue your goals!
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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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