ACT 2020 Preparation Tips, Books and Practice Tests

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    ACT is a test which is accepted by US colleges and universities for admission process. Students must prepare well to get a school of their choice.

    ACT has four mandatory papers namely English, Reading, Mathematics and Science and an optional Writing test. Since many colleges require the writing test as one of the eligibility for admission, most students prefer to opt for ACT plus writing option.

    Students must start with their preparation from their classrooms itself because the test is based on syllabus of upto high school curriculum. Paying attention to the lectures and curriculum books can be very helpful to students to score good marks.

    ACT Exam is held on multiple dates, students can shift their dates depending on their preparation level. Read further to get your hands on preparation tips for the test.

    How to prepare for ACT?

    ACT measures students’ knowledge accumulated during the schooling years. The syllabus includes the topics and concepts that are taught in high school. Difficulty level of the test is similar to that of grade 12. Students who have paid attention in their classroom and consistently score good marks in primary, upper primary and senior secondary classes can very easily score good marks in ACT test. The test does not measure aptitude or IQ of students, it only examines their readiness for college. It checks whether a student is thorough with the basic concepts from each subject required to join college. Below are the subject-wise preparation tips to score good marks in the test:

    ACT Preparation Tips for English Test

    The English test consists of 75 questions which has to be attempted in 45 minutes. It tests editing, rephrasing, sentence structure and formation, punctuation and usage of grammar, tone and style skills. Following are the preparation tips for English test:

    Be aware of the writing style in each passage: Try to understand the best context of the paragraph before answering the questions. Make sure the preceding and succeeding sentences of the underlined phrase are making sense.

    Focus on the underlined phrase: The question will refer to an underlined phrase, students must answer keeping in mind that particular sentence. Read the question twice or thrice to catch the error and correct it promptly.

    Reread the phrase with your answer: when you feel an option to be the correct answer, read the complete sentence using your selected answer. It should make best sense comparing to other options.

    Try “No Change” Option Once: Not every question has a mistake to be corrected, some of them are corrected and come with “NO change/NO Error” options. First check if the sentence really has a mistake then continue with finding the right answer.

    ACT Preparation Tips for Reading Test

    The Reading test consists of 40 questions which has to be attempted in 35 minutes. It tests reading, logical reasoning, interpreting and analyzing skills. Following are the preparation tips for the Reading test:

    Go through the Questions First: Reading questions first before the article serves as a trick to save time. When you read paragraph knowing the questions, you catch the answer immediately. Otherwise you again have to read the paragraph in order to search for the answer.

    Answer is hidden in the text: Students must know that in the reading test answer to all the questions can be found out from the text only. With little bit of smart work and logical reasoning and thorough reading of the text the question can be easily solved.

    Read the text thoroughly: Since the question will be based on the text, one should read the paragraph very carefully. Understand and interpret the text in the best suited manner in order to come up with the answer.

    Refer to the text while answering: Your final answer among the given options should be referred to the text only. The text should serve as an evidence for your answer. The other options can seem to be righteous but might not related to the text. 

    ACT Preparation Tips for Mathematics Test

    The Mathematics test consists of 60 questions which has to be attempted in 60 minutes. It tests mathematical knowledge taught upto grade 12 and complex problem solving ability of the students. Following are the preparation tips for the Reading test:

    Use Permissible Calculator Wisely: Not all the questions in the math test require the use of calculator and some questions are best done without the help of it.

    Don’t Jump to Answer: Sometimes the final answer is not one of the options but the intermediate step is the answer so it recommended to students to solve the question step by step and check for the correct option.

    Answer should be reasonable: One of the issues in math test is that sometimes it not only check the mathematical knowledge of the students but also the rationality. For example the area of a square cannot be negative but equation can be given in such a manner that the answer comes in negative value which is not reasonable. Hence look for a genuine plausible answer.

    Go Backwards: The shortest way to solve equations is to move backwards which means instead of solving the equation just put the given options one by one in the equation. The option that satisfy it is the correct answer.

    Recheck the Answer: Once you reach the answer, put it in the question and recheck whether it satisfy the equation or not because many times possible wrong answers are given in the options which you might think is correct.

    ACT Preparation Tips for Science

    The Science test consists of 40 questions which has to be attempted in 35 minutes. It tests scientific interpretation, analysis, evaluation, reasoning and problem solving ability of the students. Following are the preparation tips for the Science test:

    Read the Experiment: Before trying to solve the question, students should go through the given experiment or problem with all the given data and its experimental design, controls and variables. If you miss any point your answer can be wrong.

    Don’t Miss Graphs and Figures: Science test is full of graphs, tables and figures. A picture of an eye or an amoeba can be given and you can be asked to identify its certain organ or nerve. Scientific table can be given with missing spot that has to be filled by students. So, focus on figures and tables as well for the test.

    Analyze the Experiment: Students can be presented with an experiment that may have positive as well as negative externalities. You will be asked to evaluate it and make a decision if it should be sustained or banned.   

    Know the formulas: Students must be familiar with formulas and theories used in physics and chemistry. Formulas of Gravitational mass, OHM’s law and PH values of substances should be memorized by students to score well in the test.

    ACT Writing Test Preparation Tips

    The writing test consists of one essay question on any social or general issue that has to be finished in 40 minutes. The students are judged on four domains – Ideas and analysis, Development and Support, Organization and Language use and Conventions. Following are the preparation tips for the Writing test:

    Make a Format: The topic that is given in the test is generally a social, political, legal, economical, health or environmental issue that can be addressed by a high school student. So, to write on any issue the basic format can be in this form. First introduce the topic, tell its causes and effects and conclude it with a solution. Following this or any pre planned format will save your time.

    Practice before hand: Before sitting for the test write a few article on common issues such as women empowerment, Child labor, Income inequality, global warming and so on. It will train your brain to find words and thoughts quickly and you will not feel short of words during the test.

    Read before writing: The question can be of one word, like write on BREXIT or it can be a passage giving sufficient background knowledge about the issues and you may be asked to write either in favor/against of it. You may also be asked to write on a specific aspect, so make sure you go through the complete question before starting to write.

    Proofread Your Article: Save enough time to proofread your article before submitting it. When we look for points we may skip the focus from using correct grammar. Since the article will be examined on four domains all should be kept in mind while writing.

    ACT Books and Study Material 2020

    The best source of preparation for the test is your school curriculum books. Make sure you are thorough with all the concepts and topics that are in your high school books. The test is set from the same syllabus and difficulty level which makes it a must. Some other books for extra practice are given below for your reference:

    ACT English Preparation Book

    Name of the Book – The Complete Guide to ACT English by Erica Meltzer

    Amazon Price – USD 31

    ACT English Preparation Book

    ACT Reading Preparation Book

    Name of the Book – The Complete Guide to ACT Reading by Erica Meltzer

    Amazon Price – USD 24

    ACT Reading Preparation Book

    ACT Math Preparation Book

    Name of the Book – Ultimate Guide to Math ACT by Richard Corn

    Amazon Price – USD 16

    ACT Math Preparation Book

    ACT Science Preparation Book

    Name of the Book – Barrons’s ACT Math and Science Book

    Amazon Price – USD 43

    ACT Science Preparation Book

    ACT Complete Preparation Book

    Name of the Book – The Official ACT Prep Guide/ the Red Book by the makers of the ACT.

    Amazon Price – USD 28

    ACT Complete Preparation Book

    ACT Practice Tests Sample Papers 

    ACT Practice Tests are highly recommended for high school students. It gives you an idea about the exam pattern, type of questions, twisted problems, syllabus and difficulty level. Students can identify their weak and strong areas by practicing previous year question paper or sample papers and focus on the weaker areas. It helps them to evaluate their performance and preparedness for the test so they can make changes in their preparation plans and strategies. Here are a list of practice test for students to practice:

    ACT Practice Test 1Download
    ACT Practice Test 2Download
    ACT Practice Test 3Download

    *The article might have information for the previous academic years, which will be updated soon subject to the notification issued by the University/College




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