Test Prep

How to Hit Your ACT Target Score

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The ACT is different from the tests you take in school, so you need to approach it differently. These simple strategies are tailor-made for the ACT and come from our proven test-cracking methods. Following these five simple tips will help you maximize your ACT scores.

1. Work Questions out of Order


Spending too much time on the hardest problems means you may rush through the easiest questions. Instead of working questions in order, ask yourself whether a question is a Do Now, Later or Never.

No need to agonize — this decision can be made very quickly:

- NOW: Does a question look okay? Do you know how to do it? Do it now.

- LATER: Will this question take a long time to work? Leave it and come back to it later. Circle the question number for easy reference.

- NEVER: Know the topics that are your worst and learn the signs that flash danger. Don’t waste time on questions you should never do. Instead, use more time to answer the Now and Later questions accurately.

Read More: ACT Pop Quiz

2. Choose A “Letter of the Day”

Just because you don’t work a question doesn’t mean you don’t answer it. There is no penalty for wrong answers on the ACT, so you should never leave any blanks on your answer sheet. When you guess on “Never” questions, pick your favorite two-letter combo of answers and stick with it. For example, always choose A/F or C/H. If you’re consistent, you’re more likely to pick up points.

3. Forget the Right Answer -- Find the Wrong Ones

Multiple-choice tests offer one great advantage: They provide the correct answer right there on the page. ACT hides the correct answer behind wrong ones, but when you cross off just one or two wrong answers, the correct answer can become more obvious.

4. Know the Best Way to Complete the Bubbles

If you’re worried about accidentally filling in the wrong bubble on your answer sheet, this tip will save your score.

Work a page at a time on English and Math and a passage at a time on Reading and Science. Circle your answers right in the booklet. Then, transfer a page’s worth of answers to the answer sheet at one time. It’s better to stay focused on working questions rather than disrupting your concentration to find where you left off on the Scantron.

5. Tailor Your Strategy to Each Section of the ACT

Check out our test-taking tips for each section of the ACT so you can use separate strategies on each part:

- English

- Math

- Reading

- Science

- Essay