Is the ACT hard? Is it harder than the SAT? We’re asked these questions all the time. While the answer is different for every student, here are some factors to consider about the ACT’s difficulty.
If you do decide on the ACT, here are 25 helpful and quick tips that will make your ACT test prep easier.
Factors That Make The ACT Harder
Timing Creates Stress
The strict time limits don’t do you any favors on the ACT.
For example, in the English section, you have 45 minutes to answer 75 questions. Broken down, that’s 36 seconds per question.
Every half a minute, you need to come up with an answer and make sure it’s the correct one. The Math section is a bit more forgiving with 60 minutes to tackle 60 questions.
However, can you do Math within a minute correctly? The Reading and Science sections also give a bit more time, with 52 seconds per question.
The main point to take from this breakdown is you need to answer questions fast, accurately, and consistently. If you can’t then the ACT will be tough.
A Ton of Reading Is Required
Essentially every section, outside of Math, forces you to read a ton of material.
The English and Reading sections feature a number of long passages to interpret. The Science section forces you to read too, due to conflicting viewpoint questions.
Also, don’t expect questions to provide line preferences for reference. You need to have a solid reading strategy in place beforehand.
Otherwise, you’ll lose time searching through passages for answers and won’t receive points for unanswered questions.
Tough Math Concepts Without Help
The ACT may test concepts you haven’t even studied yet in school.
For example, basic trigonometry is included in the mix. If you haven’t learned it yet in your high school courses, then you won’t have any idea how to crack them.
Also, unlike the SAT, there is no formulas cheat sheet at the beginning of the section for reference. If you’re answering basic math questions and don’t have the associated formula memorized, then you’re out of luck.
For more obscure concepts, questions will provide a formula. Outside of that, you need to have the most pertinent formulas committed to memory.
Factors That Make The ACT Easier
Multiple-Choice Questions Only
Don’t stress about having to answer any write-in questions.
With the exception of the optional essay, every question you’ll face is multiple-choice in nature. The ACT Math section doesn’t force you to do grid-in questions either.
The benefit here is every question has the correct answer right in front of you. All you’re asked to do is use your skills and knowledge to figure out which one it is. Eliminating the wrong answers fast will help.
Science Section Isn’t Scary
You don’t need obscure knowledge to do well.
The Science section is designed around two major components:
- Reading Comprehension
- Data Interpretation
That’s really it. A grasp of basic logic is required too.
However, there’s no need to memorize physics formulas or obscure theories. Focus on interpreting charts, graphs, and logical arguments. Your ability to do those things will lead to success.
No Guessing Penalty
Don’t worry about losing points for wrong answers.
The ACT, like the SAT, doesn’t penalize you for wrong answers. What does that mean for you? If worst comes to worst, guess!
A blank answer and wrong answer have the exact same point value. However, a blank answer guarantees you zero points. A guessed answer has a chance of being correct.
Even if only one out of four guesses is correct, that’s a 25% point increase versus 0% for everything left blank. Take the chance if you have no other choice.
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