6 Tips to Increase Your ACT Score Today

6 Tips to Increase Your ACT Score Today

Maybe your exam is this weekend, or maybe you’re just looking for an immediate boost in your score. In any case, you might wonder whether it’s even possible to improve your ACT results right now. It is—but you need to be strategic about how you approach your prep. With that in mind, here are six tips to increase your ACT score today.

1. Take an ACT practice test.

This is only a good tip if your test is more than two days away! If you try to take an exam the day before your official ACT, you’ll just end up tiring out your test-taking muscles and exhausting yourself at the exact point when you should be shoring up your strength. However, if you have a few days to review your results, there’s no better way to prepare yourself for the actual experience of taking the exam—and of figuring out where to focus your last-minute efforts.

2. Study Your Tests.

If you don’t have time to take a practice test today, study your old ones. These could be your PreACT scores, other ACT practice exams, or even a previous official ACT. Go over exactly what you got wrong, looking for patterns. Did you make silly math errors, or have you not encountered special right triangles in your coursework yet? And go over exactly what you got right, too! Did you kill it on the passage about Emily Dickinson because you understood how to approach the questions, or were you guessing? Take notes on the tests and let them guide your study going forward.

3. Know How You’ll Approach Questions.

One great thing about standardized tests is that they’re, well, standardized! You can expect to see the same types of questions from one test to the other—and this means you can prepare yourself for those question types ahead of time. Have a plan not only for multiple-choice questions, but also for the essay and for each section separately, depending on where your strengths and weaknesses are. With that in mind, you’ll also need to…

4. Master the Test Format.

This is another reason it’s so important to take at least one (and preferably many more!) ACT practice tests. Do you know what order the sections come in? When your breaks are? How much time you have for each question? When you should guess? (Hint: there’s no score penalty for wrong answers, so when in doubt—eliminate, then make your best guess). You shouldn’t be wasting your time on test day reading the directions, so master them now and earn back those precious minutes.

5. Master the Mental Game.

If you’ve only ever prepped for the ACT with individual questions or even question sets, you haven’t fully prepared yourself for the test experience. To really succeed on test day, you need to be ready for a marathon—not a sprint. If you don’t have time to do a full practice test under test-like conditions before the exam, just realize that taking the ACT may be more stressful than you anticipated, and come prepared: breathing exercises, soothing yet upbeat music for breaks, a last-minute study sheet (put it away during the test!) to refresh your memory.

6. Download (and Try Out) Apps.

They only take a few seconds to download, but they can definitely help get you where you want to go. These are perfect for any “found” time—waiting in line, on the bus, while on hold. Magoosh has free ACT flashcards and test prep apps, and Math Brain Booster can give you a helping hand with the mental math that will save you time on test day.


Rachel Kapelke-Dale is an ACT expert at Magoosh. She has a Bachelor of Arts from Brown University, an MA from the Université de Paris VII, and a PhD from University College London. She has taught test preparation and consulted on admissions practices for over eight years.

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