Is it your desire to increase your ACT score? Do you want to greatly improve your score, from good to amazing? You are about to read the best and most reliable and well-researched writing on the Tips on how to improve ACT score in 2020
Getting a perfect 36 in the ACT is difficult, especially on the first attempt. However, even if you don’t, you can always improve your overall ACT score from one exam date to the next, as long as you plan ahead and work constantly.
It’s not easy, but you can take big steps towards the ACT score of your dream. In this article, we show you how to significantly improve ACT score.
- What is a good ACT score?
- How does ACT Score work?
- How to improve your ACT score?
- How to Improve ACT Science Score
- How to Improve ACT English Score
- How to Improve ACT Math Score?
- How to Improve ACT Score by Points?
What is a good ACT score?
The range of the ACT score is 1-36. As you can imagine, the higher his score, the better he did. But is there a certain limit that outlines a “good” ACT score?
Your ACT composite score corresponds to a percentage rating that tells you how it was compared to all others tested. Score 20 is a 50th percentile or average score.
However, it is more important to consider what a good ACT score is for you personally. And a good score makes it competitive for programs that interest you!
Remember, the most important thing is to find out what are the good ACT scores for you personally. You will not necessarily need the same scores as some of your friends and colleagues.
How does ACT Score work?
It is important to understand how ACT scores work. Your composite score from 1 to 36 corresponds to a percentile that compares how you did it with the general population of people who took the ACT test.
A higher percentile means that you scored higher than that percentage of students. (So, a 55th percentile score means that your score was higher than 55% of the students).
ACT test scores are set to follow a normal distribution. This means that student performance tends to be grouped in the middle of the scale: the majority of those examined obtain a score between a little below and a little above the average score. Many fewer people who take the test get scores towards the upper and lower end of the scale.
The average ACT score is 20.8. If you obtained 21, you obtained more than 50% of those examined. That’s pretty good, depending on your frame of reference. A 24 places it in the 74th percentile, better than ¾ of those tested!
How to improve your ACT score?
Like I said before, having 36 in the ACT is difficult, especially on the first attempt. If you experience that, you don’t have any need for worries. You can improve your overall ACT score in the next exams as long as you plan for your success ahead diligently and constantly.
Here are some easy tips on how to improve the ACT score that you can use both for studying
Start studying immediately after a test date
After completing your first ACT attempt and immediately knowing that you would like to take it again, start taking notes.
As fast as you can, write down everything you can remember about the exam you took. Write anything that confused you, things that were unexpectedly difficult, sections in which you felt confident, anything in that regard. Record those impressions as much as you can while it is fresh.
Those notes will help you plan your next exam because you now know exactly what to focus on next time. While your score report will also help, these other notes will help you immediately plan your next steps.
In addition, you can compare those impressions with your actual scores to see if you were right or wrong regarding where you need to improve.
Use your score report
Whether it is good or bad, use that score report to your advantage. Your ACT results are available around 2-8 weeks after taking the test. You can view them online or receive a paper copy by mail.
In addition to your total score and section scores, pay particular attention to the subscores. Here you will receive the greatest benefit for your next preparation.
View the Detailed Results section and search for the lowest sub scores. Now you have a good idea of where you will be heading your next study.
Moreover, studying can be more manageable because you know exactly what you need to fix versus the first time-out, in which you are not 100% sure of what you would and would not score well.
Buy a good ACT preparation book
There are many good ACT prep books on the market, ranging from the official book published by ACT to third-party books by Princeton Review, Barron and others. For an investment of around $20, you have a valuable resource for improving your ACT scores.
Buying the book is, of course, the easy part. It is difficult to use the book to significantly increase your ACT scores. Don’t just take a practice test or two and consider yourself ready for the exam.
Consider an ACT prep course
Signing up for ACT prep courses is a great way to invest your money to improve your ACT score. Kaplan courses start at $899 and Princeton Review lessons start at $999.
If a preparation course does not pose financial problems for you, this can be a good way to improve your ACT scores. Most reputable companies guarantee that your score will go up or you will receive a refund.
If you are not good at motivating yourself to study, a real class with a teacher can follow your progress. Kaplan and Princeton Review offer both online and personal options for their lessons.
Use a group study for motivation
Many students find it difficult to stick to a rigorous self-study plan. You can really increase your ACT score considerably with a good study plan, but the challenge is to find the motivation to stick to that plan.
Working with study partners can help with this. What about meeting a few of your close friends at the local cafe to study together? If you can identify a few colleagues who share your desire to improve their ACT scores, you can work together to make study time more fun and effective.
If you and a friend or two all buy the same ACT prep book, you can develop a study plan and motivate each other to stick to that plan.
Always Use Guesses
There is nothing wrong with guesswork at the ACT, so even if you are at the end of a section and have two more questions left, you cannot answer, it is best to just fill in random answers.
You have a chance of 20-25% to get a question right, so go ahead and take the chance.
Improve your time management
Time management is crucial when it comes to ACT, even more than on SAT. The ACT is notorious because of the limited time available to answer each section.
If you do not set and maintain a fixed pace as you go through it, you do not answer everything. It’s that simple.
However, if you skip too many questions to set the time limits, you risk a low score there. The easiest way to work on your time management is to keep a stopwatch with you when you perform practice tests and to time each section under test conditions.
That way you will discover how well you keep pace with each section, in relation to handling the questions in it. You know what it takes the most effort to be ready on time.
Work on reading quickly
Fast effective reading also helps with overall time management. Many of the sections of the ACT, such as English and Science, read a lot of information without much time to do this.
During your test preparation, it is important to have a strategy to quickly read the written passages and collect the information you need to answer the questions.
Practicing skimming will help enormously in just about every section. To read section questions, you can try to fully read only the first and last sentences of each paragraph or the first and last paragraphs, while searching the main sections.
For the English and Science sections, try only to read sentences that are directly related to the questions you answer, and possibly the preceding context questions if necessary. Try multiple strategies and see which work for you in each section through practice tests.
Memorize formulas and rules
An important tip to save time and improve your score at the same time is to discover what you can capture to remember. For example, mathematical formulas and grammar concepts are simple enough to remember from practice.
Your ability to retrieve them without thinking will be useful in the ACT, especially in the Math section, which offers no references to use. You must then have a number of basic formulas in memory and ready for use, including:
- Formula for intercepting slopes
- Quadratic formula
- Area of triangles
- The Pythagorean theorem
- Special types of triangles (30-60-90, isosceles, equilateral, etc.),
- Area of a circle
- Area of a sector
- Area of a rectangle
- Area of a parallelogram
- Trapezoidal area
- Trigonometry functions (sin, cos, tan, SOH CAH TOA)
Apply the same basic rules for grammar rules for the English and Reading sections. You save time with a better chance to answer questions correctly.
Utilize Process of Elimination
One time-saving tip on how to improve ACT score, from which you can benefit is the elimination process. Remember that when it comes to ACT reading, there is only one completely correct answer for each question.
This means that every question that does not look 100% correct is immediately crossed out.
The advantage here is, instead of debating whether an answer is correct or not, look for reasons to get rid of it completely.
If you see an error based on the information provided, remove it as a choice. If what is left over cannot be discounted at all, chances are that you have found the right answer. You will not waste time wondering between the two answers, which is also correct.
Skip difficult questions
Another tip on how to improve ACT score, as long as it is done carefully, is to skip questions that initially take too much time. Remember that with the time that you encounter, it is better to first answer all the questions you can easily answer and then return to those more difficult questions to tackle the remaining time.
In general, you cannot continue with a question if you spend at least 30 seconds on it and you have no idea how to crack it. For each section, the amount of time you have to spend per question before you skip differs:
- English: approximately 30 seconds
- Math: about 60 seconds
- Read: about 45 seconds
- Science: approximately 45 seconds
If you reach those time limits per question for those sections and you cannot crack it, continue. It is better to build time to overtake the ground than to lose time and not to finish what you can answer with confidence.
Do multiple practice tests
You must practise a lot before you take ACT. Think of it as playing a sport; do not go inside without knowing how the test works, how much time you have to complete, and a good idea of what you will be dealing with.
That is why it is necessary to do as many practice tests as possible for various reasons.
First, you will get used to the format itself, including the timing limitations, bubble leaves, and question formulation. Secondly, you will quickly learn where your strengths and weaknesses are per section.
If you want to know, after taking a test, calculate your total score from 36 for each section to find the composite score, plus also calculate the subscores.
The real insight comes from the subscores. Perhaps there are specific subsections where you can find the lowest point; if so, it is easy to focus your attention on that.
If you suffer sufficient losses throughout the test, you may generally have to work harder to find those deficiencies.
Take the time to find those problems, work on them and then do a practice test. You will soon see if you are improving, and with how much, fairly easily.
Make sure you get quality sleep before the test
Everyone has different sleep requirements, but a minimum of eight hours is a great goal to hit. Don’t waste energy or sleep when cramming for ACT!
If you are not ready for it the night before, there is no amount of cramming that will prepare you mentally and emotionally for the next day.
If you go exhausted in a live test, not only the amount of energy you have when testing starts, but your focus will be quickly destroyed.
Both conditions lower your score, no doubt about it. So, go to bed early and make sure you eat a good meal in advance. Give your body as much rest as possible so that you become refreshed and eager the next morning. Your mind will be ready and your body will be able to handle the pressure better.
Stay calm during the exam
Dealing with stress while taking ACT makes a difference in your final score. If you can stay calm while observing the time limits, your chances of scoring improve. Many students understandably deal with fear when they are forced to skip questions because they are blunt at the time.
Remember that it’s okay if you have to do this. Go to the next one.
Another tool that can help is meditation; Taking the time for the test itself to focus on your breathing while your mind calms has been shown to reduce anxiety.
Reduced fear means that your focus is on what you solve, not on your fear of failure. Work on these skills as needed while doing practice tests.
Low ACT scores are not the end of the road
It can be daunting that the ACT often plays such a big role in the university’s admission process, especially if you have trouble getting the scores you probably need for your best lectures.
That said, keep in mind that a good academic record is always more important than ACT scores.
There are also many strategies for going to a good lecture with low ACT scores. For example, you can look at the hundreds of test-optional colleges.
It is clear that the higher your ACT scores are, the more competitive you will be at elite colleges and universities. However, low scores should not be the end of your university ambitions.
How to Improve ACT Science Score
If you want to improve your ACT Science score, the two important skills you should pay attention to are your reasoning and analytical skills.
You must be able to identify patterns in the data in tables, charts, and graphs, as well as your ability to interpret questions rationally, taking into account the patterns you have extracted from the data.
The ACT Science section does not directly test your knowledge of biology, chemistry, physics or earth sciences. You don’t have to remember every Science concept that you have learned from school, instead, you need to know how to reason and how to solve problems scientifically.
- Know the Act Science Passage Types
- Take a strategy for each of the 3 formats
- Mark the passage
- Know the Act Science question types
- Practice your pacing
- Always refer back to the passage
- Trends continue
- Know the commonly used terms
- Know your general exam strategy
How to Improve ACT English Score
If you want to improve your ACT English score, there are many small things you can do to make a difference quickly. Try the following suggestions:
Know the ACT rules for grammar and rhetoric such as the back of your hand.
The first tip to do well with the ACT is to understand what you will actually be tested for. You have to predict every type of question that comes up, so you have a game plan to get the correct answer.
You must have a good understanding of all the specific grammar rules and rhetorical skills that will be tested.
Learn the most important grammar rules. Ignore the others
If you have studied ACT English before, you may be discouraged by the large number of grammar rules that you seem to need to know.
Avoid Redundancy and Wordiness.
Redundancy questions are common in the ACT English test. Redundancy refers to words or sentences that are superfluous and can be eliminated without affecting the meaning of the sentence.
The best thing you can do in these situations is to keep it short and simple and remove words that have no meaning.
Do not quickly choose the “NO CHANGE” answer option.
In ACT English you must choose the “NO CHANGE” answer option if you cannot find anything wrong with the sentence. But be very careful. For many students, the “NO CHANGE” option is an easy way to see if they cannot see anything wrong with the grammar or syntax, especially under the time crisis.
But if you’re aiming for a 36, make sure you evaluate the grammar of the sentence and not just listen to how it sounds in your head. If you really think it is “NO CHANGE”, check the answer choices for certainty.
The only way to get a perfect 36 on the ACT is by practicing. It is not enough just to study grammar rules and to read tips and strategies from an assessment book. Take practice tests (note that ‘testing’ is plural!):
- Get used to the format of the test
- Show the types of questions that you can expect
- Become familiar with the instructions.
If you really want to achieve the perfect ACT score, you must pursue a score of 36 every time you sit down to take a practice test.
Find your grammatical weaknesses and deal with them
If you are like most students, you are better at ACT English in some areas than in others. You may know transitions very well, but you will be weak in sentence fragments.
You have to find the most important grammar rules that you have the most problems with and then practice hard until it is no longer a weakness.
Don’t spend more than 30 seconds in a question
Of all sections, ACT Engels has the least time per question. You better skip it, so you can get more questions elsewhere in the section. So, if you find yourself spending more than 30 seconds on a single question, skip it now. You may have enough time to come back to it.
How to Improve ACT Math Score?
Achieving a 36 ACT Math score is not easy. It requires perfection. But with hard work and my strategies below, you will be able to do it.
Do you understand weakness at a high level – Content or time management?
Every student has different errors in ACT Math. Some people do not feel familiar with the underlying mathematical material. Others know the maths material well but cannot solve questions quickly enough in the time limit.
Do a ton of exercise, and understand every mistake
On the way to perfection, you must ensure that all your weaknesses are covered. Even one error on ACT Math will get you out of a 36. You have to master many subjects within ACT Math.
At a high level, you need to know number operations, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, probability and more.
Within algebra, you have to know how to solve equations, how to deal with word problems, characteristics of functions, etc.
If you miss a question, try again before reading the explanation
If you do practice questions, the first thing you probably do is read the answer explanation and at the very least think a little bit about it. Treat every wrong question like a puzzle.
Finish with extra time and double-check
Your goal at the end of all this work is to become so good at ACT Math that you solve every question and have extra time at the end of the section to check your work again.
The best way to get faster is by asking so many questions and making the questions so fluid that the ways to solve the question become clear to you.
Remember all formulas and general mathematical facts
If you are still struggling to remember mathematical formulas to solve questions, you have not understood ACT Math well enough. This not only costs you time, but it also indicates that you have not practiced enough with ACT Math to have the required formulas come to you smoothly.
Remember the formulas on the front of the section and these general mathematical facts
Stay calm during the test, no matter what
Now you know what it takes to achieve perfection on ACT Math. You know it is crucial to get a perfect rough score, or you might score a 35. You have to learn to be mentally strong, like an athlete on a match day. You must continue to think positively during the test, otherwise, you will crumble.
How to Improve ACT Score by Points?
This includes choosing a study plan for total point improvement at the ACT based on the number of study hours you have to stop.
Once you have your baseline and target scores, take the difference between these two scores to get the total number of points you need to reach your target score. Then adjust the difference that you get to the corresponding number of study hours:
In general, how long do you have to study for ACT? Below are our estimates for total point improvements on the ACT based on the number of study hours you spent in it:
- 0-1 point improvement: 10 hours
- 1-2 points improvement: 20 hours
- 2-4 points improvement: 40 hours
- 4-6 points improvement: 80 hours
- 6-9 points improvement: 150 hours +
You know the estimated number of hours that you have to study for ACT in the course of a month. But how should you spread these hours every week? Every day? Below we offer you various study plan options based on the amount of study time you must commit to.
Always choose a study plan that works well for you. Do not opt for a plan where you have to study too much during the week if you know that this type of plan will easily wear you down.
Consider your obligations and be realistic about when and how often you can actually study.
How to improve ACT score by 4 points
Not many students can keep up with this plan, but if you want to increase your basic score by 4-6 points, you must prepare for at least 80 hours or about 20 hours a week. These are your options for prep schedules:
- 5 hours, four times a week
- 4 hours, five times a week
- 3 hours and 20 minutes, six times a week
How to Improve Act Score By 5 Points
This plan requires a total of 40 hours of study during the course of a month. This amounts to approximately 10 hours per week, which you can divide as follows:
- 3 hours and 20 minutes, three times a week
- 2 hours and 30 minutes, four times a week
- 2 hours, five times a week
How to Improve Act Score By 10 Points
This plan requires more than 150 study hours in the course of a month. That is no less than 40 hours a week. That is why I strongly advise against undertaking this study plan unless this is seriously required.
Achieving a perfect 36 for the ACT English test will not be easy. It requires motivation, dedication and a lot of practice. However, if you keep an eye on your goal and use the tips and strategies discussed above, you are on your way to a great score.
FAQs | How to Improve ACT Scores
Is a 14 on the ACT a good score
A 14 is definitely low. It places you in the bottom 13th percentile nationally out of the 2 million students taking the ACT this year. For comparison purposes, a 14 on the ACT converts to a 800 on the SAT based on the College Board / ACT concordance.
What month is the easiest act?
The Early Action & Early Decision deadlines are typically November 1st, so it is essential that you take the ACT by September of your senior year to ensure your scores arrive in time.
Is ACT easier than SAT?
English on the SAT focuses on writing style, while the ACT may ask more questions about the grammar and sentence structure. There is really no true answer. It is entirely dependent on your own skills in math, science, reading, and writing.
Do colleges prefer ACT or SAT?
A common myth is that elite colleges prefer SAT than ACT scores. In reality, all colleges and universities which require standardized testing accept BOTH the ACT and SAT. And college admissions counselors have openly stated they do not prefer one test over the other.
Does retaking the ACT improve your score?
According to ACT, over half of the students who take the test a second time do better on the second test than they did on the first. However, ACT also notes that the higher your score is on a test, the less likely it is that you will improve that score by taking the test again.
- 10 Tips to Improve Your ACT Score – CollegeVine blog
- How To Improve Your ACT Score By 4 Points
- How to Get a Perfect ACT Score
- How to Improve Your ACT Scores – From 21 to 36