Timing Strategies for the ACT

The overwhelming majority of students who take the ACT feel they had insufficient time to complete one or more sections of the test. For those who managed to respond to every question, they often felt rushed or had to randomly guess on several. High school classes focus on the content of lessons and not on strategies for working through tests quickly and accurately. It is not unusual for a 4.0 student to score poorly on the ACT.  One of the best skills you can learn in an ACT prep course is mastering the timing component of the test.

Order of Difficulty

At High Performance Tutoring, our ACT tutors in Utah, Colorado, and California work one-on-one with students to help them master a series of timing strategies proven to dramatically boost scores. The mantra we want everyone to keep in mind is “Answer questions in order of difficulty, not the order of presentation”. Since every question is worth exactly one point, make sure to get all the easy points you can before using up time to work on more challenging problems. It takes a lot of experience to quickly identify a problem as easy or difficult.

Overcoming Bad Habits

You may fear that by skipping a question, you will not have sufficient time to return to it later. This is the wrong approach and a bad mindset to be trapped in when trying to maximize your ACT score. It may take some effort to train yourself out of thinking this way. Skipping questions is a GOOD thing when done strategically. By skipping a hard question, you are sacrificing the one point you could have earned in order to gain sufficient time to earn three points on easier questions coming up later. If you are going to feel rushed on any questions, it might as well be those questions you already find difficult or have a low probability of answering correctly.

You Do NOT Need To Answer All The Questions

Keep in mind that to reach your goal score, you do NOT need to answer all of the questions correctly (unless of course your goal is to get a 36). For example, suppose your goal is to earn a 26 on the ACT math section. To achieve this, you only need to correctly answer 40 of the 60 questions. In other words, you can afford to skip or incorrectly answer one out of every three questions on the test and still get a 26! The trick is to navigate through the test and quickly decide WHICH 40 questions out of the 60 you have highest probability of answering correctly. You will get much better at this as you work through numerous practice tests and see a wide variety of examples.

In a future blog article, we will talk about more specific timing strategies for each individual section and how to quickly identify easy and difficult problems. Subscribe to this blog and stay tuned for all the latest tips and tricks for improving your ACT score. We also recommend subscribing to our YouTube Channel in which we post videos on how to apply various strategies to solving ACT problems quickly and accurately.

If you are planning to take the ACT, give us a call today so we can help you create a plan that works for you! All the ACT prep tutoring we do is one-on-one and in person. See our website for more details about our ACT Prep courses in your area!

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