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How to Improve Your ACT Score by 10 Points

Achieving a high score on the ACT opens doors to a multitude of opportunities, including scholarships, competitive programs, and more. For many students though, improvement often feels like an impossible task. You might have no idea where to start or how to go about adjusting your study habits. Don’t worry – Prep Expert has you covered!

Join us as we outline 10 simple steps to help you improve your ACT score by 10 points.

1. Establish a Realistic Timeline

Unfortunately, you can’t bump up your ACT score by 10 points overnight. Even improving your score by just 1 point typically takes up to 10 hours of studying. In fact, you can use that as a baseline to establish a realistic study timeline between now and your next exam. For most students, a 10 point score improvement will require at least 100 hours of studying. Plan ahead and make sure you have enough time before your test date to fit in all your studying without overworking yourself or resorting to last-minute cramming.

Keep in mind that all students learn at their own pace, so you may need to make adjustments based on your unique study habits. However, it is generally a good idea to choose a test date far in advance in order to better space out your studying.

2. Use Your Old Score Report as a Guide

The score report from your last ACT test is a veritable goldmine of information. The detailed results section tells you all about your strengths and weaknesses. Use it to identify the areas in which you need the most improvement and adjust your study habits accordingly. This is especially important when it comes to making a large score improvement because there may not be much room for improvement in your best sections. Chances are, it will be harder to raise your scores in your strong areas than your weak areas.

For example, let’s say you excelled in the Reading section while your Science score was on the low side. Rather than trying to bring up your Reading score by just 1 or 2 points, it will be a better use of your study time to focus on improving your Science score, which you may be able to raise by 5 points. Then, you’re already halfway to your goal of 10 points!

3. Develop a Study Plan

Once you have your timeline and a general idea of the material you need to study, you can create a personalized study plan. It’s important to develop a study plan that is realistic and aligns with your schedule. Make sure to leave time for your other daily and weekly commitments, such as school, extracurricular activities, work, and personal responsibilities.

As you create your plan, take time to assess your own study habits. If you learn more efficiently with a laidback, gradual study routine, you may want to plan things out in a way that allows you to study for just 1 or 2 hours per day. On the other hand, if you enjoy a more intense study routine, you may be able to endure longer study hours over a shorter period of time, up to 3 or 4 hours each day. Both ways can be effective. It all depends on how you learn!

4. Practice Consistently

Practice is key to improving any standardized test score, including the ACT. Take practice tests frequently as you progress through your study plan to check your progress, make adjustments, and get yourself used to the exam. Utilize official online ACT practice tests to gain access to score reports that can help you understand where you made mistakes. Plus, seeing your practice scores gradually improve over time can be a great motivator!

5. Improve Your Time Management

Time is almost always a source of concern for students taking the ACT. Learning to use your time effectively can help you make massive improvements to your score. Practice pacing yourself during practice tests to ensure you can complete each section within the allotted time. You must learn to prioritize questions based on difficulty and allocate your time accordingly. If you find yourself stuck on a challenging question, don’t hesitate to move forward and return to it later if time allows.

You can also implement other time-saving strategies, especially in sections that require you to read a passage before answering questions. It’s perfectly okay to skim and scan passages as long as you can still identify the main ideas, extract key information, and answer the questions effectively.

6. Spread Out Your Studies

As we mentioned above, targeting your weaknesses can be a great way to improve your ACT score. Take advantage of the resources at your disposal (score reports, practice tests, online assessments, etc.) to pinpoint your weak areas and develop a plan of attack. However, be careful not to get too wrapped up in one subject. You don’t want to let your strong areas decline because you might end up with a smaller amount of improvement.

Set aside time to review all the relevant material for the exam periodically, including your strong subjects. This will help you maintain your strong subjects while consistently improving your weak areas as well.

7. Review and Analyze Mistakes

It’s easy to become frustrated over your mistakes while studying. But rather than viewing them as setbacks, try to look at them as opportunities for more improvement. After each practice test or study session, meticulously review any incorrect answers to understand where you went wrong. If you can, try to identify patterns in your errors. Are they conceptual misunderstandings, careless mistakes, or time management issues? Take advantage of official answer explanations and seek guidance from teachers or tutors to help clarify any persistent issues.

8. Manage Test Anxiety

Test anxiety is another source of stress for students that can ultimately result in lower test scores. Luckily, there are a number of strategies you can use to fight back against test anxiety and increase your confidence on test day. Examples include:

  • Taking practice tests. Familiarize yourself with the exam itself and the time constraints to lower your anxiety levels when you take the real thing.
  • Focusing on the present. Avoid dwelling on past mistakes or future outcomes while taking the exam. Just think about the questions in front of you.
  • Practicing relaxation techniques. Try out techniques like deep breathing, meditation, and visualization to alleviate any test day jitters.
  • Maintaining a positive mindset. Create positive affirmations for yourself and keep your mind on your visualizations of your goals.

It’s worth noting that sticking with your study plan may lessen your test anxiety as well. Watching your results gradually improve over time could be the confidence boost you need to nail it on test day!

9. Stay Motivated

Many of us start out with a grand study plan, only to find our motivations dwindling by the second week. Keep yourself motivated by taking time to celebrate your progress and achievements along the way, no matter how small they are. It also helps to visualize your goals and the benefits of achieving that 10 point improvement, like admission to your dream schools and access to better scholarships. Don’t forget to build in rewards and study breaks for yourself along the way too.

10. Learn Test-Taking Strategies With Prep Expert

Whether you’re lost and looking for a little extra guidance or just want to ensure that you’re making the most of your valuable study time, you may want to try enrolling in an ACT prep course. Instructors can help you build or stick to your study schedule, answer last minute questions about the material, and teach you important test-taking strategies that will give you a major advantage on test day.

With self-paced courses, 6 to 8 week prep guides, and weekend reviews, Prep Expert offers tons of ACT online prep at the click of a button that will fit any student’s study style or schedule. Check out our comprehensive list of courses and let our expert instructors help you start closing the gap between you and that 10 point score improvement.

Prep Expert

Written by Prep Expert

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