College and University Blog

Ace the ACT - How to Improve your ACT Scores

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.