How to Prepare for the ACT in One Week: Ultimate Guide

Standardized testing can be one stressful affair for most students. This guide provides the best approach to studying for the ACT in one week. Preparing for the ACT in one week is difficult, but not impossible. This detailed schedule guide is written from 6 years of experience with ACT tutoring and improvement of ACT scores by an average of 4–6 points.





Let’s dive right into it.


The below schedule guide is designed for a completely a complete beginner to the ACT.


The below schedule assumes that you will spend at least 2 hours a day for the next week to prepare for the ACT.


Day 1: Overall ACT structure, Math and Reading Practice Test


Step 1: Familiarize yourself with the format, timing, and structure of the ACT. The four sections of the ACT are summarized below; click here to see the detailed description of each ACT section.

English: 75 Questions. 45 minutes. This section emphasized understanding of English grammar and overall understanding of English passages.


Math: 60 Questions. 60 Minutes. This section emphasizes your understanding of Algebra, Geometry, and a very small amount of pre-calculus.


Reading: 40 Questions. 35 Minutes. This section emphasizes your speed and understanding of reading material.


Science: 40 Questions. 35 Minutes. This section emphasized your ability to interpret data, understand scientific investigation (experiments), and evaluate models, inferences, and results.


Step 2: Take the Math and the Reading test from the latest released ACT test PDF file below. (Note: The English and Science sections will be completed on Day 2)

2020-2021-ACT-Practice-Test-Essay
.pdf
Download PDF • 2.15MB

While taking the tests, remember at what point you run out of time in each section. Ensure that you bubble in the answers on the answer sheet (provided below to download) to ensure you are taking into account the time it will take to bubble in the answers.

ACT_AnswerSheet
.pdf
Download PDF • 162KB

Step 3: Review the questions you get wrong and ensure that you understand why you got the specific question wrong. If the reason for getting the question wrong is lack of knowledge of the concept being tested, add the name of the topic to an ongoing list that will eventually become a guide for preparation of the specific ACT section. For example, If you got a question wrong about absolute values, add the topic “absolute values” to the list.


Day 2: English and Science Practice Test


Step 1: Take the Math and the Reading test from the latest released ACT test PDF file below.

2020-2021-ACT-Practice-Test-Essay
.pdf
Download PDF • 2.15MB

While taking the tests, remember at what point you run out of time in each section. Ensure that you bubble in the answers on the answer sheet (provided below to download) to ensure you are taking into account the time it will take to bubble in the answers.

ACT_AnswerSheet
.pdf
Download PDF • 162KB

Step 2: Review the incorrect questions.


When reviewing the science practice test questions that you got wrong, pay close attention to the kind of passage that you did worst on (Ex: passage with conflicting opinions, a passage with a study/experiment) and what kind of figure (the type of graph or table) the question was based on. The following categories can be used to categorize each question you got wrong:

  • Misreading the visuals

  • Not understanding the setup of the experiment

  • Misreading the passage

  • Careless error

When reviewing the English practice test questions that you got wrong, pay close attention to the specific grammar topic that was covered by the question (Ex. commas, semicolons, dashes, tense). Many questions in the English section are about ensuring that a sentence is clear, concise, and correct; you can mark these as CCC.


Day 3: Math and Reading Preparation


The math section of the ACT requires the most amount of preparation as it requires the memorization of some formulas. It also might require you to visit back to some algebra and geometry concepts from freshman and sophomore year. Here, you will use the list you made while revising the math practice test from day 1 as a guide to study for the math section.


We have put together a list of 100 concepts (downloadable PDF below) covered by the ACT math section. The concepts are described in a simple and easily understandable manner with examples. While reviewing the concepts from the list, you should also create a cheat sheet of formulas that you need to memorize. Approximately 1.5- 2 hours should be sufficient to cover all the concepts on your list.


100 Math Concepts
.pdf
Download PDF • 175KB

The remaining time on this day should be used to do some more reading section practice. Each reading passage (along with 10 questions) should take approx. 9 minutes. You should be able to easily practice on 3–4 passages from the reading section. If you are not sure what the best strategy for nailing the reading section, click here to read the perfect strategy to complete the reading section with the highest accuracy while managing to complete the entire section in the given time.


Day 4: Science and English

English section of the ACT is one of the easier sections of the ACT to improve upon. The list of concepts from review of English practice test should be used as a guide for preparation. The English section of the ACT covers a specific set of grammar and standard English conventions; these are listed below as a reference along with examples for you to learn the concepts that you got wrong during the practice test. Using the list below, it should take approximately 30-40 minutes to study the concepts from your list.


https://blog.prepscholar.com/the-complete-guide-to-act-grammar-rules


For the science section, it should be emphasized that a very little amount of actual scientific knowledge is required to succeed in this section of the ACT. The best way to prepare for the science section is to practice, practice and more practice. The below document can be used as a reference to find out the specific areas of the science section that you should be focusing on practicing. Out of the four categories of wrong answers mentioned earlier, focus on practicing the error category that was observed most frequently when you were reviewing your science practice test.

Science Section Mistakes
.docx
Download DOCX • 12KB

Day 5: PRACTICE!! PRACTICE !! PRACTICE!!

This is the day when you need to decide on what you need to focus on. Math and English sections are mostly based on knowledge concepts that can be learned, thus these two sections are easiest to improve upon by learning the concepts that you don’t know. Reading and Science sections are two sections that require an innate ability that is developed by long term practice. If Math or English sections is your weakest section out of the four sections, I would suggest focusing on it on this day. If Reading or Science is one of your weakest section, I suggest focusing half the time on this section and half the time sharpening the section that you did the best on. The ACT composite score is an average of all four sections, thus improving the composite score can be accomplished by improving scores of either of the sections. Any extra time you have should be spent preparing for either your weakest or your strongest section.


Day 6: Mental Preparedness!!

This is the day before the exam. On this day, 40–50 minutes should be spent preparing for either your weakest section or your strongest section. If you do not have a lot of time, scrap the practice and focus on finalizing your cheat sheet containing some final reminders. The cheat sheet should contain all the formulas you have not yet memorized from the math section. It can also contain any other small notes that you want to remind yourself the day before the test (For example, do not reread any part of the reading section, commas connect independent and dependent clauses, etc.) You should also gather everything you need to take for the test such as a calculator, pencils, wristwatch, admission ticket, photo ID, and a sweater. You should also review these ACT test day tips to look at the complete list of items you need to have prepared. Day 6 should be very light and relaxing, but leave no last-minute prep for test day.


Day 7: Go Time!! No last-minute prep!!

This is the test day, thus this day should be mentally relaxing with no last-minute test prep. Have full breakfast, don’t forget to grab your packed bag, and allow yourself more than enough time to get to the test center.

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