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15 ACT Tips to Get You Ready for the Big Day

Sep 20, 2016
With the school year starting up once again, this means another opportunity for high schoolers to finally get their dream ACT score.
Even though it may seem like hard work, trust us, with some practice, some patience, a couple of trusty No. 2 pencils, and these 15 ACT tips provided to you by Sylvan Learning Center of the Rio Grande Valley, you’ll tackle test day with the right confidence and skill to get the job done.
 Just make sure to memorize these great tips because cheat sheets are not allowed in the testing room.
 1. The most important tip you will ever hear is - ANSWER EVERY QUESTION. There should not be a single blank bubble on your scantron by the end of your test. In case you weren’t aware, the ACT does NOT penalize students for incorrect answers, which means guessing (even on the hard ones) gives you a fighting chance. So if you find yourself limited on time with quite a few questions left, choose a “letter of the day”, and fill in those bubbles.
 2. Want to improve your chances of getting the right answer? Well, just use Process of Elimination (POE) before you take a guess. When looking through the answer choices, you should be able to recognize one that is completely wrong. Make sure to cross this choice out and cycle back through the rest of the options to see if there’s another one that you know is not right. Each choice you get out the way brings you closer to the RIGHT one.
3. Practice really can help get you closer to perfect. By practicing beforehand, you’ll be familiar with the different sections, the types of questions that are on the test, and the general instructions. This means you won’t waste valuable time reading through directions and you’ll also have a boost of extra confidence in knowing what is expected of you. Also, think about taking an ACT prep class with Sylvan to get some expert assistance from tutors who know the exam inside out.
 4. Stay focused. Yes, this may sound simple enough, but when you’ve been sitting down for nearly 3 hours, you can easily daze off for just a moment. Remember, it’s important to keep your mind at the task on hand. Those five minutes you spent staring off into space can mean the difference between getting into your dream school or having to retake the test again.
 5. As you take the test, complete all the easy questions first, then take a jab at the difficult ones. Every question is worth the same amount of points, so wasting too much time on the hard ones won’t yield any additional benefits. Get as many points as fast as you can.
 6. Make sure to have a watch on you, as it’s essential that you keep track of time. Cell phones are not allowed, and there’s no guarantee that there will be one in the testing room, so don’t run the risk of being unprepared. Remember - DO NOT take your cell phone with you.
 7. Double check to make sure you are bubbling in the right question and oval. Every five questions or so, skim through your answer sheet to make sure that you haven’t accidently skipped an oval. Getting through to the end of the section only to realize that you’ve missed filling in an oval somewhere can cause some major issues. Always double check!
 8. If you have to erase an answer choice, then make sure to erase completely. The ACT is graded by machine and any leftover marks can cause a misreading, leading to lost points. Bring two erasers with you to the test. One for the heavy duty erasing and another clean one to completely fix up your ovals.
9. Bring your own approved calculator to the test. The testing center will not provide you one. Yes, all the questions can be answered without one, but the math section will be much easier with a calculator. Also, make sure those batteries are fresh.
 10. Have a little faith in your abilities. If you felt confident while choosing your initial answer, then stick with your gut and don’t second-guess. It has been proven that your first choice is usually the best one. Of course, if you find some additional information that disproves your original choice, then it’s ok to switch.
 11. Place an asterisk by any question that you weren’t sure about or didn’t complete on your first run through. Time is of the essence and this method will keep you moving forward while providing you a reminder of the questions that you need to come back to. A fresh pair of eyes can do wonders.
 12. Mark up your test, especially on the Reading section. Underline important names, dates, locations, and ideas to help you better understand the passages. This will allow you to skim through the passages quicker when answering a question, rather than having to reread the entire thing, saving valuable time.
 13. Don’t be afraid to choose “No Change” or “Omit” on the English section. These choices have been shown to be correct 25% of the time.
 14. Make sure to get a good night’s sleep before the test and to have yourself a hearty breakfast in the morning. You’ll be in the testing room for some hours and you don’t want to be distracted by a growling stomach and hunger pangs.
 15. Arrive at the testing center early and with a proper form of identification. You’ll need it to check in.
 With these Sylvan certified fifteen tips, you’ll do better than you ever expected.
Plus, with the fall test dates coming up, now is the perfect time to sign up for Sylvan’s ACT Prep program.
 To chat about schedules and pricing, contact your local Rio Grande Valley Sylvan Learning Center in McAllen, Harlingen, or Brownsville.

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