Time to act on your ACT

Hannah Harder, Staff Writer

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For juniors, one of the most important dates of the year is April 23 – the day of the ACT test. This test is used by most colleges as an indicator of how well a student will be able to handle college material, so it’s important to take it seriously. The test itself can seem imposing, but here are some tips to help the process along.

  • Get plenty of sleep. If you fall asleep in the middle of a test, you are guaranteed a low score.
  • Eat a good breakfast the morning of the test. If you’re hungry, it will not only be distracting, but you’ll have a harder time thinking.
  • Be on time. The proctors will close the door when the test begins, and once it’s shut, you can’t get in. If your test is voided, you cannot get your money back, and you’ll have to take it at a later date.
  • Relax. Worrying about the test can cause you to do worse than you would have if you were calm. Many seniors who have already taken the ACT will tell you that the test itself is not as hard as it is made out to be.
  • Always read the directions. A common test question in the ACT can begin with “Which one of these does NOT fit?” or “Which answer is NOT an example of a metaphor?” Don’t miss the “not.”
  • Answer all of the questions. There is no penalty for guessing on the ACT.
  • Use only a No. 2 pencil. Anything else – including a pen or a mechanical pencil – will not score properly and will void your test.
  • Never spend too much time on one question. Answer the easy questions first, and then work on the hard questions. That way, if you run out of time, you can bubble in the difficult ones.
  • On difficult questions, try to eliminate the obviously wrong answers first, then make a guess at the correct answer from the remaining choices.
  • Check your work if you finish early. Even if you’re confident with your answers, check to make sure your ovals are filled in properly, and that, if you erase any answers, the marks are clear.
  • Remember that you can retake the test. If you do badly the first time, it is not the end of the world. Colleges want your best score, so you may retake it several times if you’re not satisfied with your results. A good score will present you as a good student to a university.
  • Listen for the five-minute warning. When it is called, fill in all of your remaining answers to give you a chance to get them right. Then continue working until time is called. Never continue working after time is called or before the proctor says to begin.
  • Listen carefully to the proctor’s rules – the test cannot be started until the proctor says, must end when he/she says, and you can never work on another test after the time for that particular exam has been called or before it has started.

The ACT is important, but there’s no reason to panic about it. As long as you do your best and concentrate, you’ll receive a score you’ll be proud of.

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