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Ace the ACT - How to Improve your ACT Scores

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The ACT test measures the knowledge, understanding, and skills you have acquired throughout your education. This knowledge is accumulative and not something you can cram for. There are simple things you can do to improve your score. When taking the test, you should do the following:

  • PACE YOURSELF Nearly everyone will be able to finish the test questions in the time allotted. The test proctor will announce when you have 5 minutes left on each test.
  • READ THE DIRECTIONS FOR EACH TEST CAREFULLY The English, reading, and science tests ask for the “best” answer. Read and consider all of the possible answers, then choose the answer that best answers the question. The math test asks for the “correct” answer. You may want to work out the problem given, determine your answer, and look for it among the choices given. Revise the problem if your answer doesn’t math any of the options.
  • READ EACH QUESTION CAREFULLY Make sure you fully understand what each question asks before answering.
  • ANSWER THE EASY QUESTIONS FIRST After answering the questions you find easy, go back and answer the more difficult questions.
  • USE LOGIC TO ANSWER MORE DIFFICULT QUESTIONS Compare the answer choices and note how they differ. Eliminate as many incorrect answers as you can and then make an educated guess from the remaining answers.
  • ANSWER EVERY QUESTION Your test score is based on the number of questions you get right. You are not penalized for guessing.
  • REVIEW YOUR WORK If you have time after answering all of the questions on a test, go back and check your work.
  • BE PRECISE IN MARKING YOUR ANSWER SHEET Be sure to completely and correctly fill in the correct ovals on your answer sheet. Make sure the number on the answer sheet is the number of the question you are answering. Mark only one answer for each question. Make sure to erase completely if you change your answer.

The ACT writing test lets you demonstrate your skills in planning and writing a short essay. If you choose to take the optional writing test, the following hints may be helpful:

  • PACE YOURSELF You have 30 minutes to complete your essay for the ACT writing test. There is no formula for dividing your time between planning, writing, and reviewing. You are unlikely to have time available to draft, revise, and recopy your essay. Because of the time constraints, taking a few minutes to plan what you are going to write may be a good strategy.
  • READ THE DIRECTIONS CAREFULLY The directions will tell you how your test will be evaluated. You will also be instructed on how to write in the answer folder.
  • READ THE WRITING PROMPT CAREFULLY Be sure you have a clear understanding of the issue given in the writing prompt and of the question you are asked to write about before you plan and write your essay.
  • WRITE OR PRINT LEGIBLY IN THE ANSWER FOLDER If your reader cannot read what you have written, they cannot appreciate it and they cannot score your essay. Your essay must be written in pencil (soft lead No. 2) and on the lined pages in the answer folder. You may not require all of the lined pages, but don’t skip lines just in case you do.
  • MAKE CORRECTIONS CLEAR You can write corrections or additions neatly between the lines of your essay. Don’t write in the margins.

Accommodations can be made for test-takers with disabilities. If you feel you may need accommodations, contact your guidance counselor. They can provide you with information about eligibility, documentation requirements, how to request accommodations, and what types of accommodations can be made. Requesting an accommodation means extra deadlines, so start the process as soon as you can.

What you know will determine how well you do on the ACT, but other things may influence your performance. The following will help you do your best:


You can do this by completing practice tests and by investigating the test sections.


Do not leave preparation to the last moment.

  • Your test center admission ticket. You will receive this after registering for the test.
  • Acceptable identification
  • Sharpened No. 2 pencils with good erasers
  • A watch so you can pace yourself during the tests.
  • A permitted calculator if you wish to use one during the math test. Make sure you have fresh batteries.

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sonja daniels over 8 years ago sonja daniels

Hi I would like to know if I can find out if I had enough courses to graduate from my high school in order to take some college on line classes and also get some grant money to futher my education? I also wold like to know if I didn't have enough credits how would I obtain the necessary information that I would need to futher my education. I took this class online thru Jefferson High School is it efficient enough to start classes? I was told that I could use that diploma to get into college along with the assesment test, could someone email me with all the necessary information. Thanks Sonja

lisa over 8 years ago lisa

To all the up and coming college students, I am a mom with one 3.5 gpa student in his first year of college and have one senior 4.0 student getting ready to move on to college. I recommend that those of you who have the time take the test 2 or 3 times every year beginning in the 8th grade. The grades will not be great at first but you get comfortable with the test and the test atmosphere. I also had the kids take every free practice test on line and bought test prep books through amazon etc which have a cd with practice tests in them too. If you can afford Kapalan do it because it's guaranteed and if not do Sylvan it's cheaper and still pretty decent. My son with the lower gpa got a 36 on his english and improved his others ending with a 30. Math the weakest. My daughter has a 28 so far from her junior year and will take the test again at least twice and maybe more. Remember you can take your highest scoring test and many colleges will even take them by section! Lastly, if you skipped questions then in the last 5 minutes go answer everything you have a 50/50 chance

FRP almost 9 years ago FRP

My daughter, just finishing the 11th grade is a lifetime 4.0 scholar but so far her ACT is 24, and scheduled to take it again on June 2010. She is of Hispanic race and very smart, but she cannot show it with a 24 on the ACT. I am afraid I will not be able to get any scholarship money unless she scores 28 or better. I am an Honorable Discharged Veteran, but not retired nor disable, so I dont think they is any VA help for me either. Am I right?

Alyson almost 9 years ago Alyson

I've taken the ACT twice. Both times I made a 23. ALL of this stuff you read on this page is right. Also, If you want to get higher, focus on your weak spots. I like how they send back sub scores because that shows me where I need serious improvement. Math is a tough subject for me but with a little work I'm going to be where my best friend is now. She made a 27 on hers. Know that you don't have to be a genius. I know I'm not, lol. Just make sure to TRY. Even if you want to put your head down and sleep. Don't. Just try.

anya about 9 years ago anya

i cannot wait till i take my SAT or ACT test . i am prepared for it!

Rick about 9 years ago Rick

Looking for an ACT tutor in the Morehead, KY area? Willing to travel within 60-75 miles.

julie gdula about 9 years ago julie gdula

i got a 17 on my acts and an 1100 on my sats and i still cant get into ANY schools for nursing. i took a bunch of classes towards nursing and i did really well but im just not a good test taker what should i do?

katie about 9 years ago katie

i got a 16on my act my g.p.a is 3.5 will colleges still take me i don't have time to take the test again?

Brynisha over 9 years ago Brynisha

If you do not finish the questions in the time allotted, will you still get a good score if the questions already answered are correct?

d.winter over 9 years ago d.winter

i am looking for someone who dos tutoring for the act test in my area. (winfield,wv)

Patricia J. Campbell almost 10 years ago Patricia J. Campbell

I have been tutoring for the ACT for several years and my students have received phenomenal scores which enabled them to obtain scholarships and more choices for colleges. The key is one on one tutoring; practice tests; understanding why something is being tested; and understanding bacic grammar rules (i.g. semicolons, sentence structure, etc.) I have had several kids get perfect...ask around for someone who knows how to teach you to improve your scores!!!!!!!!!

derrick almost 10 years ago derrick

my act score was a 16 my GPA is 2.6 im a junior in high school. i just took my SAT. i have not got back my scores. IS it still possible to get in a divison 1 or 2 college, with these scores is it possible to get in, what should i do, I`m trying to get a scholarship, and several of colleges are looking at me, are the scores going to effect anything

derrick almost 10 years ago derrick

can a person get into a division 1 or 2 with a act score of 16 and a GPA at 2.6

Claire almost 10 years ago Claire

Hello! I can't wait to take this test! The other day I took a running test in gym class and did awesome so I figure this test should be a piece of cake. yay. This morning i woke up to the sound of birds outside singing and bells ringing, it was loverly. On the grammar portion of the ACT, the answer that allows for the simplest and shortest correction of a sentence is probably the right answer. Example: The police officer runned to this fire department in order to catch a thief. a)

josh about 10 years ago josh

Hi i was wondering if the act score determined whether you get into a collage they cant just limit someone to a number on a piece of paper can they? and does your score have any effect on scholarships you can get? thanks for anyone can help! Josh.

Abigail over 10 years ago Abigail

i have'nt heard of this but do any of you know if you can take the ACT online? i hope so.

Ashley F over 10 years ago Ashley F

This is to that Justin kid who seems to think that the ACT is "pointless". I agree that standardized testing is not the best way to test one's education and learning abilities. Depending on where you go to school and how your teacher teaches, the material that you may cover in class can be so different to the material that is being covered in the next county. BUT, if you're going to say that something is pointless and that you are a straight "A" student... Please note that people will notice when you cannot spell and have run on sentences. Your whole paragraph was ONE sentence. Learn to pay attention in class and spell correctly and maybe that dream of going to your DESIRED ( not desiered) college may be achieved. And p.s. most colleges have an essay that has to be filled out upon applying... when little things like spelling errors and grammatical problems show up... they tend not to approve of those applications. Another thing, You CAN get money for college to help you. There are soooo many scholarships available, grants and loans out there. Anyone anywhere can get money for college but you have to be willing to put in the effort and time to fill out the needed paperwork and requirements to receive such help. Just thought I'd share some more advice with you Justin. :|

sam over 10 years ago sam

oh gosh x_x im taking it December 13

Nick over 10 years ago Nick

It's 7:00 AM right now, I take the test at 8 AM. I was out last night drinking with some buddies, but I think I can just wing this test right? These tests aren't as great indicators of intelligence as people make them out to be.

kati over 10 years ago kati

I'm taking the ACT for the first time on Oct. 25 and I would like the thank you for the tips! I feel pretty relaxed about! My brother was a straight C student and the first time he took it he got a 19 the second time he was more relaxed and more prepared and he got a 23! So I'm hope I do ok on it because I'm a A/B student so I'm hoping I can take it more than once so I can get a better score like him! Thanks for the advice! It sure does help!

justin over 10 years ago justin

The act is pointless, i agree, i have been a straight A student all my life and i cant get more then a 17 on the act i mean i cant get into my desiered college but i wasnt able to get money so i wont be able to go to college it cost way to much and with my score i couldnt get any money to help me.

Joey Miller over 10 years ago Joey Miller

I believe this test is the most unuseful thing to get into college. I think we need to go back to the olden days where everyone had the right to get a major. The test was hard for me and I got a bad score so now that sore will follow me everywhere I go. I have tried using these advice types it don't work.

Ligia Baltodano almost 11 years ago Ligia Baltodano

I have the believe this kind of test it is for everybody, don't have nothing to be scare, is only to understand every step.

Ashley about 11 years ago Ashley

To Ms.Gayla Martindale and whom this may concern, I would like to thank you for taking your time to provide those who have a hard time scoring well on the ACT with information on How To Improve Your ACT Scores. I greatly appreciate it.