How to Guess on the ACT | Video Post

how to guess on the act - magoosh

The April 2019 ACT test date is coming up next Saturday, and if you’re planning on taking the exam you may be getting a little nervous!

But don’t worry–although most of your ACT prep is probably now behind you, there are a few test-taking hacks you can still add to your toolkit.

In this video, our ACT expert Kat covers guessing strategies to use when you run into questions on the ACT that are difficult for you to answer…follow these tips and you can seriously increase your chances guessing correctly on any ACT question!

Just click on the embedded video below to watch “How to Guess on the ACT”.

…Or scroll down for a full video transcript. 🙂

What Will I See in the “How to Guess on the ACT” Video?

In this free 8-minute video, Kat will teach you the best ways to tackle any ACT question you aren’t sure about! She’ll cover guessing strategies specifically tailored to each section of the ACT, giving you the best chance of choosing correctly–even if you have not idea what the right answer is!

Some of the topics covered in this video are:

    How can you eliminate incorrect answers?
    What should you guess if you can’t eliminate anything?
    Are some questions worth more than others?
    What should you guess if you’re in a hurry?
    Should you ever leave something blank?
    When should you go back to a previous question?

If you like the video, don’t forget to hit Like, and subscribe to the channel for more study tips. And if you have any questions about how to prepare for the ACT, write to us in the video comments section, and we’ll answer with advice! 🙂

“How to Guess on the ACT” Full Transcript

Hi, I’m Kat.

The ACT expert at Magoosh.

I have over 15 years teaching and tutoring students, and I love helping students ace the SAT.

In this video, we’re gonna talk about how to guess on the ACT.

The most important thing is to leave nothing blank.

So wrong answers do not count against you.

It used to be on the SAT number of years ago.

If you got something wrong, it would deduct points.

This is not the case anymore.

It’s not the case for either the ACT or the SAT.

And so you want to put in an answer for every question.

You will have at least a one and four or one and five chance of getting that right.

The only guarantee that you will get an answer wrong is if you answer nothing.

So what should your strategy be then?

How do you guess when?

When do you guess?

Well, one thing you should do is when your answering a question eliminate any option choices that you know are incorrect.

And if you’re spending too long on one question, that’s when you want to skip and come back to it.

But before you skip, make sure that you have visibly, physically crossed out all the incorrect answers based on your reasoning about what is not the right answer.

Because when you come back to it at the end of the section, you will have in that period of time gone over all these other questions, all these different questions.

You probably won’t remember and you don’t want to have to refigure it out when you come back to question number three.

Now, let’s say you’ve been able to eliminate a couple options and you’re left with two.

Two choices that both seem equally good to you.

You go ahead.

You take a guess.

You keep working on the exam section.

And then two minutes later, you start to doubt.

You have that question, you know what?

I actually think it may have been B not D.

So should you go back and check it out again?

My answer is unless you are really short on time, yes.

A lot of times when students go back to previous questions, they get their revised question correct.

So here’s an interesting question, how many of you have heard the idea that on a multiple choice test, C is usually the right answer?

Probably a number of you and there is some validity to that, but not for the ACT.

What that comes from is that when high school teacher, middle school teacher is writing the test, they often, usually accidentally make C the correct answer.

But on the ACT, this stuff is really thoroughly reviewed by the test makers and they make sure that there aren’t any patterns.

And so if you are going to guess randomly, you can guess C, but you can also guess one of the other letters.

And statistically, you would be equally as likely to get it correct in the case that you are blindly guessing, in the case that you’ve not been able to eliminate at least a couple of the options.

If you are guessing on the English section, so this is a section where you are given some sort of a sentence or a couple sentences and you’re supposed to choose the option that is grammatically correct or that is the right sentence for the point in the paragraph and you have to blindly guess the option that is the shortest.

The ACT likes concise statements, they’re often actually testing you on how well can you put words together in a concise way.

So this doesn’t mean you should always choose the concise option, right?

But if you have to blindly guess or if you’re in a real hurry, go ahead and guess the option that is the shortest.

Another tip, reading sections.

Avoid any options that are to extreme.

Now this is again, in reference guessing, the most important thing to do is to try to get the right answer to eliminate wrong answers really try to work it out there first.

But if you are in a position where you are guessing, maybe between two options or maybe just blind guessing with all four options still left.

Choose an answer that seems moderate.

So if the question asks you, what would the author agree with of the following statements?

And one option is this author would say that cellphones are ruining American society and another option is this author would say that we need to rethink how we introduce cellphones within the workplace or within society.

That second statement, it’s more subtle.

It’s more moderate.

It’s less extreme.

It would be more likely to be the correct answer.

So if anything just seems like too strong of a statement and you have to guess, guess the one that’s a little bit more moderate.

On the math section on the ACT, there aren’t really any patterns or advice I can give you in terms of guessing.

But one thing I’ll say is that even if you don’t know how to answer a question, see if there’s one option you can eliminate.

For instance, if one number value is definitely too large or too small to be the correct answer, at least eliminate one even if you feel you are totally lost in that question and you are just guessing what they are remaining for.

If there is one you can eliminate, absolutely do it.

On the science section of the ACT, you have a series of passages, right, and you have a number of questions tied to each passage.

What a lot of students don’t realize is that the questions tend to get more difficult toward the end of each passage.

And so the first couple questions tied to a passage are a little easier than the last couple.

Therefore, I usually recommend students.

If they have to guess on some of the earlier questions for a passage, question one, two, three, I want you to guess the answer that looks too obvious to be true.

Those ones often are they’re often so straight forward that the student doubt themselves.

But if you know that those questions are likely to be easy, you have more confidence to guess the answer that just seems too straight forward, too right in your face.

So I’ve given you a couple tips on how to guess when you don’t know the answer, but what in really want to emphasize to you it that the ACT is a game of eliminating wrong answers.

And sometimes, you’re able to eliminate all the wrong answers and you wind up with the correct answer.

Sometimes, you can only eliminate one wrong answer and you’re kind of trying to guess or use your intuition with what remains.

In that case, I don’t want you to think of it as guessing.

Don’t call it guessing if you are able to eliminate.

That actually is the name of the game is eliminating wrong answers and you’re doing everything correctly.

You’re being strategic.

You’re going to increase your score even if all you can do is eliminate one wrong answer.

So like I said before, the only guarantee that you’re going to miss a question is if you leave it blank.

So don’t feel bad if you have to guess on the field.

If you like this video, follow the link in the description box below and go to where you can join thousands of students who are already using Magoosh to reach their goals.

Looking for more ACT study tips?

Check out these videos on your left and I’ll see you in the next one.

Looking for more last minute ACT tips??

Why not check out some of our other free ACT resources for more strategies on how to prepare for test day?

Good luck on the test! 🙂


  • Molly Kiefer

    Molly is one of Magoosh’s Content Creators. She designs Magoosh’s graphic assets, manages our YouTube channels and podcasts, and contributes to the Magoosh High School Blog.

    Since 2014, Molly has tutored high school and college students preparing for the SAT, GRE, and LSAT. She began her tutoring journey while in undergrad, helping her fellow students master math, computer programming, Spanish, English, and Philosophy.

    Molly graduated from Lewis & Clark College with a B.A. in Philosophy, and she continues to study ethics to this day. An artist at heart, Molly loves blogging, making art, taking long walks and serving as personal agent to her cat, who is more popular on Instagram than she is.


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