What’s the best-paying job you can have as a high school student? Spending quality time improving your ACT score. Apply these steps, and watch your ACT score increase.
1. Prepare early and effectively
First, set up your MyACT account. Find engaging test prep that is efficient and effective. Not all test prep is created equal, so do the research. Read reviews, and look past flashy guarantees. Try the OnToCollege Free ACT Prep Trial.
2. Practice often
Consistent test-taking practice has shown to be one of the best ways to increase your ACT scores. Make sure to use actual ACT practice tests to understand the test format and learn to manage time and energy.
Often your school counselor or local library will have copies to share, or you can purchase the Official ACT Prep Guide for less than $40.
Join our free OnToCollege Live! Online Help sessions on the evening before every national ACT date.
But don’t wait to prep the night before! OnToCollege online classes are available on your schedule for a full year or as a Boot Camp 4-6 weeks prior to the test. We also offer Live! Online classes before each national test date.
3. Use the ACT practice tests
The four sections of the ACT test officially take 2 hours and 55 minutes to complete with 215 questions total.
Carving out three hours at one time for practice may be challenging. Instead, with a practice test in hand, do one passage at a time for the prescribed time (English 9 min, Reading 8:45 min, Science 5:50 min, Math 1 min/question).
Then immediately correct your answers for that one section. Seek to understand all of your guesses and mistakes. Learn from your mistakes before attacking the next section—and then the next.
4. Take the ACT three to four times
Thoughtfully select the test dates that work best with your family, school, and extracurricular commitments. (2023 ACT Test Dates). Some states require all their public high school juniors to take the ACT. Few students get their best score the first (or even second) time. So, take the test twice during the junior year and twice in the fall of the senior year. Get your best score, and increase the chances of potential scholarships and financial aid!
Colleges don’t care how many times you take the test. However, December of your senior year is usually the last test date colleges accept for scholarship consideration. Check with your preferred colleges.
Ambitious students may want to prepare for and take the June or July ACT after sophomore year. Moreover, use your early score to identify weak areas where you need to spend more study time. (If you score a 27 or higher on the test the summer before your junior year, tell your school counselor that you want to take the October Junior Year PSAT, which can earn you eligibility for National Merit Scholarships. Register for the PSAT with your high school counselor.)
ACT provides an automatic Superscore for those who take the ACT more than once. Not all colleges accept superscores so you’ll need to check their individual websites.
5. Reduce your test anxiety
Practice, practice, practice so you are prepared and confident when test day arrives. Treat your practice test session as a real test day. Remove all distractions. Use a reliable timer. Stay focused. No food, no breaks, no phone.
Learn what relaxation techniques–such as deep breathing–work for you.
Finally, treat your ACT Test Prep as you would a part-time job. Put the time and energy into improving your ACT Test Score—the best-paying job you’ll ever have!
OnToCollege’s online ACT Prep course is fun, engaging, and effective, providing all the strategies, practice tests, and solution videos you need to MAX your score.
Have more questions about the ACT? Check out The Ultimate Guide to ACT Prep in 2023