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How to Strategize for Maximum ACT Test

3 Min Read
July 04, 2023

If you're a high school student planning to go to college, you're probably familiar with the ACT test. The ACT (American College Testing) is a standardized test that assesses your readiness for college and is widely accepted by colleges and universities across the United States. In order to ace this test, you need to prepare strategically. Let’s find out how you can do that down below!

Familiarize Yourself with Test Structure and Format

In sequence, the ACT comprises a total of four mandatory test and one optional test:

Test Subjects

Total Questions




45 Minutes



60 Minutes



35 Minutes



35 Minutes


1 Essay

40 Minutes

The four compulsory tests in the ACT are entirely composed of multiple-choice questions, each with four or five answer options. There is no negative marking for incorrect responses, as the overall score is determined based on the number of correct answers. The optional writing test requires you to write one essay based on the prompt given to you.

Choose an Ideal and Realistic Target Score

It's important to set both an ideal and a realistic target score before starting your preparation. Doing so can help you plan your study time effectively and ensure that you focus on the areas that need the most improvement.

The ACT test is scored on a scale of 1 to 36, and your final composite score is calculated based on your performance in the four compulsory tests. Your ideal target score is the score you hope to achieve, while your realistic target score is the score you believe you can realistically achieve. It's important to have a clear idea of both before beginning your preparation.

Many students base their target scores on the admission criteria of the colleges or universities they hope to attend. To do this, you can look up the average ACT scores or 50th percentile scores of admitted freshmen. The 50th percentile score indicates that the test-taker scored higher than or equal to 50% of other test-takers who took the same test. Knowing these scores can help you determine what score you need to be competitive for your desired schools.

Build a Manageable Study Schedule

Achieving these scores requires a solid study plan. You need to determine how much time you should allocate to ACT preparation each day and how many days per week you should dedicate.

It is essential to find a balance between your ACT preparation and other aspects of your life such as your schoolwork, extracurricular activities, and personal life. While it's important to put in the necessary effort to achieve your target scores, it's also crucial to avoid burnout and keep up with other commitments.

One effective approach to managing your ACT preparation schedule is to create a study plan or schedule. This plan should outline your study goals, the time and days you'll dedicate to studying, and the study materials you'll use. A study plan can help you stay on track, remain focused, and manage your time efficiently.

Preparing for the ACT might seem overwhelming at first, but with the right mindset and approach, you can achieve your target score. By planning your study schedule and following expert ACT tips, you'll be well on your way to success.