By Hannah Blaser
Many students are finding themselves preparing for the ACT. Whether they’re taking the test in December, February, March, or beyond, the work they put in now can make all the difference. For many students, working through an ACT exam can feel exhausting. Don’t let standardized testing scare you, though. Below are four tips that will make the ACT feel less like a trick.
1. Take Care of Yourself
Don’t underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep and a healthy breakfast. Sitting through an ACT while tired or hungry can majorly impact student performance. While it might be tempting to stay up the night before cramming for the test, go to bed and trust that you’ve done enough preparation beforehand to carry you through the exam. Wake up with plenty of time to eat breakfast and arrive at the testing center on time. Ditch the sugary cereals and instead go for a more balanced breakfast to avoid hunger pains during the test! Don’t forget about the ten minute break between the math and reading sections of the ACT; this break is a great time to eat a quick (and nutritious!) snack.
2. Come Prepared
Lay everything out that you need for the test the night before. Don’t forget a photo identification, No. 2 pencils (have a couple backups!), and your calculator. Make sure to review the ACT Calculator Policy to ensure your calculator will be allowed in the testing room. It’s never a bad idea to have backup batteries for your calculator. Students are also allowed to bring a watch, as long as it has no alarms. A watch is a great way to help with pacing during the test.
On the note of bringing things you need, don’t bring things you won’t need. Cell phones are not allowed in the testing room at all, and students can’t even use them during the break times. It’s probably best to leave phones in the car or at home. You also won’t need things like highlighters or a reading book.
3. Take a Moment to Ground Yourself
At the beginning of each section of the test, take a deep breath and focus on the task at hand. Whatever stresses you have outside of the testing room can wait until the end of the test. If you’re feeling uncertain about those last few math questions, don’t carry that uncertainty into the beginning of the reading section. Treat each portion of the test like a new start and remember to breathe!
4. Answer Every Question
Even if you don’t have time to finish each section, don’t leave any blanks on your answer sheet. There’s no penalty for guessing on the ACT, so don’t feel bad about filling in those last few questions with total guesses; there is absolutely no advantage to leaving an answer blank! It’s also okay to move on from a question that is eating away at precious time you could be spending on other questions. If you catch yourself staring blankly at a problem for too long, give it your best guess and spend your time tackling more problems.
The ACT can feel stressful, but there are always ways to make it more manageable. Putting into practice these four tips can help students arrive at the testing center prepared and leave feeling like they’ve done their best.