ACT Test Tips & Strategies

Pace Yourself

act test tips

These ACT test tips will help make your test day experience less stressful and more productive!

Just like the SAT, the ACT test is also timed. So one of the most important ACT test tips is that is especially important to pace yourself in the English, Reading, and Science tests since these sections contain a considerable amount of text. Also remember to never spend a good deal of time trying to figure out a single problem (or passage); move on to the next questions and go back if time permits. The test proctor will notify all students when five minutes are remaining for each section of the test.

Answer Easy Questions First

Always answer the easy questions first. Mark skipped questions in your test booklet, and return to them at the end if time permits. You do not lose points for skipping a question. You will only lose points if it’s left blank.

Read the Directions Carefully for Each Test

Although it may seem time consuming, it is absolutely essential to read the directions carefully for each individual section. The English, Reading, and Science tests all ask for the “best” answer, while the Mathematics Test asks for the “correct” answer. For all sections excluding Math, never choose the first answer you identify as correct. Consider all of your options, then choose the answer which best responds to the question. It’s also a smart idea to become familiar with all the directions on the test so you can save time and dive right into the questions.

Use Logic in More Difficult Questions

When going back to attempt the more difficult questions, always try and use logic to eliminate at least one answer you know is incorrect. Compare answer choices, and finally make an educated guess from the remaining answers. As a general rule, if you can eliminate one choice, then it’s worth it to make an educated guess.

Answer Every Question

Unlike the SAT, your score for the ACT will be based purely on how many questions you answer correct. There is no penalty for answering questions wrong, therefore it is a must to answer every question on the test, even if you have to guess. The supervisor will announce when there are five minutes remaining on each test.

Review Your Work

If you have spare time at the end of each test section, go back and check your work on that test. You will not be able to go back to a previous test section or change any answers from those sections after time runs out for that test.

What to Bring on Test Day

Make sure you bring both your admission ticket and ID with you on test day. The start time will be printed on your admission ticket, normally 8 a.m. Only pencils, erasers, your admission ticket, and a calculator (for the math test only) will be allowed on your desk. It’s also a good idea to bring a watch – it’s not guaranteed that a working clock will be available in the room.

Follow Directions

Listen carefully to all directions read by the supervisor, and don’t be shy if something is ever unclear. Failure to follow directions as the supervisor says can result in your answer document not matching up to your registration record, and the reporting scores can take up to three to five weeks longer than usual for grading.


Note: Some of these may seem obvious, but we’ve seen honest test takers tripped up over others that seemed innocuous to them. Hence, we include the “what not to do” among our ACT test tips! If you are caught taking part in any of the following actions below, you will have to return all the testing materials and leave the test center:

  • continuing to write an essay after the allotted time has expired
  • looking at another examinee’s test booklet or answer sheet
  • giving or receiving assistance
  • looking back at a test in which time has been called
  • glancing ahead in the test booklet
  • using highlighters, colored pencils, notes, dictionaries, or any other aids
  • using an unauthorized calculator
  • using any device used to share or exchange information at any time during the test or break
  • using the calculator on any other section than the Mathematics portion
  • attempting to remove any testing material from the room
  • not following instructions
  • demonstrating confrontational, threatening, or unruly behavior
  • creating a disturbance (including allowing a cell phone or pager to sound off)