How To Prepare For The ACT As A Student Athlete

Student-athletes face a time crunch that non-athletes don’t. If you are such an athlete, you are no doubt familiar with time-consuming practices, games, and tournaments.  While you probably love the sacrifice, the fact remains that it leaves you little time or energy to prepare for the ACT.

You don’t have to settle for a second rate experience as you study for the ACT. In fact, student-athletes can excel in ACT preparation if they manage their schedule well, study smart, and learn strategies to crack the test.


The Optimal Time For ACT Prep

The summer after your sophomore year might be the best time for you to prepare for the ACT.

Many student-athletes have regretted preparing for the ACT during their season. While some athletes can make it work, most feel like they have to compromise on either ACT prep or their sport. It’s better to prepare during the summer when you won’t have such a conflict.

The time commitment for ACT prep is heavier than most students anticipate. Our experience at Prep Expert has shown that students need at least two months, studying 10 to 15 hours a week, to sufficiently cover the broad number of topics and strategies on the ACT.

In the majority of cases, the summer after your sophomore year is the optimal time to make this huge investment because it offers several distinct advantages. First, you probably won’t have practices and games during the summer to compete with your study time. Secondly, if you don’t get the score you need, you will have another year to improve. Most colleges will accept your test scores as late as December of your senior year. Lastly, you will probably have finished Algebra 2, and will have covered most of the math you’ll need. You need to learn some trigonometry, but it’s such a little amount that you can probably learn it outside of a class.

Guidelines For Scheduling ACT Prep At Other Times

If you can’t study for ACT prep the summer after your sophomore year, make sure you allow yourself at least two months and 10-15 hours a week.

The summer after your sophomore year might not be the optimal time for you to prepare for the ACT. Don’t be disappointed, because following a few principles can help you choose a different time that could work just as well.

As mentioned above, you will need a minimum of two months and 10 to 15 hours per week to study for the ACT. So, go the ACT’s website to see a list of test dates. Do you have a two-month block of time to study immediately prior to any of these dates? Look for a time that doesn’t conflict sports or other extracurricular activities.  Also, it’s best to pick a date that will give you the option of taking the ACT a second time before colleges stop accepting test scores, which is typically December of your senior year.

As mentioned above, you will have covered most of the math if you’ve finished Algebra 2, so don’t take the test before that.  Remember, you will need to learn some trigonometry, but you can do that on your own. You will have to understand how to find the sine, cosine, and tangent of a right triangle. Also, it will be helpful to know the law of sines and cosines.

Make Sure Your Score Is High Enough To Play College Sports

Find out if you are within the range of scores of the colleges you’re interested in by taking an ACT practice test right away.

Even for athletes, a college usually won’t admit students whose ACT scores fall outside its typical range.  You can easily use a search engine to find out what scores the colleges you are interested in accept.  For Harvard, a simple search shows you would need an ACT score of 32 or greater. Think about where you want to play college athletics, and then look up the scores for all those schools.

Take a practice ACT test now to determine if your score is in range of the schools you want to play at.  The sooner you find out the difference between your score and expected score at the university you want to play for, the more you can do about it.  If the difference is more than three or four points, you will need to schedule five or six months of preparation time.  You won’t be able to find that much time at the last minute, so start to plan for it now.


Treat ACT Prep Like A Sport: Practice Daily

Study the ACT every day for the best results.

Because you’re an athlete, you know the benefits of practicing every day for a sport. It keeps your in shape and allows your to sharpen your skills. Preparing for the ACT works best with daily practice as well, for a number of reasons.

First, you have been taking multiple choice tests for about ten years and developing bad habits this whole time.  Researchers have discovered that it takes about three weeks of daily practice to break a bad habit and replace it with a new one.  Since you need to develop new test taking habits, not just memorize facts, only daily practice will work.

Secondly, you need to study every day to increase your endurance and attention span.  With breaks and the essay, the ACT is four hours long. Most students need some time to build their stamina for such a long test. Daily ACT practice is the best way to do this.

Take An ACT Practice Once A Week To Track Your Progress

Take weekly practice tests and track your scores to see your progress.

As mentioned above, proper preparation for the ACT requires more than learning math, English, science, and reading.  You also have to be able to perform under tight time restrictions. The ACT’s reading and science sections, in particular, are notoriously challenging for pacing, even when compared to other standardized tests. Taking weekly practice ACT tests will give you practice to improve your pacing.

Make sure to mimic the test conditions that you’ll encounter on the day of the actual test. Start a timer prior to each section, and set your pencil down right when it rings.  You’ll soon learn where your pacing lags, especially if you don’t get to all the questions in a certain section.

When you discover that you are too slow in one section, you can speed up the next week, so you can get to all the questions.  However, you can only speed up so much by sheer willpower. Learning new time-efficient ACT strategies – like those taught by Prep Expert –  is the best way to improve your pacing.

As you take weekly ACT practice tests, record your scores so you can see how you’re improving. Also, see if you can figure out how to correctly do the problems you missed. After a few months of taking practice ACT tests weekly, your score will undoubtedly increase.

Prepare With Questions From The Official ACT, Inc. Only

When preparing for the ACT, use only official tests created by ACT, Inc.

ACT, Inc. is the non-profit organization responsible for creating the ACT test.  While there are many other companies that publish practice ACT tests, only tests created by ACT, Inc. will help improve your score.  Other tests are so different from the real ACT that they don’t actually give you legitimate practice.

The ACT, Inc. has resources at its disposal that no other company has. It spends millions of dollars to hire professional test makers and data experts. It owns the copyright to every ACT test in existence, which restricts other companies from publishing copycat tests, created by changing only a word or number here or there. It can field-test new questions by having students take an experimental section – which doesn’t count towards their scores – to get rid of bad questions and keep good ones.

The other test prep companies can’t do this, so their tests don’t really reflect the true ACT.  Consequently, studying with those other tests is a waste time, which you don’t have much of.

Learn The Best ACT Strategies By Taking A Prep Expert Course

Prep Expert offers an ACT prep course suited to the busy schedule of student athletes.

As an athlete, you understand the value of a coach who can teach you new skills. Nowhere is this as important as in ACT prep.  Through years of analyzing this test, Prep Expert has figured out the most efficient strategies for you to maximize your score.  Its tutors have all scored in the 99th percentile on the ACT, so they have the knowledge to coach you during your preparation time.

Most athletes don’t have time to prepare on their own for the ACT. Sure, the discipline you’ve gained from sports gives you an advantage over other students.  But, most of what you will find on the internet is bad advice, which won’t help you much even if you are disciplined.  Following bad advice means you will be wasting time learning strategies that don’t improve your score. Prep Expert’s ACT course is designed to focus your efforts on only the most efficient strategies, maximizing your time.  Also, you can take Prep Expert’s course online, so you don’t have to spend time driving to and from a physical location.


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