Don’t Panic at the ACT

Jackie Collver, Writer

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With the ACT approaching, I’m sure many juniors are freaking out. With this bizarre schoolyear and already somewhat stressful exam coming up, nerves are higher than ever before. It doesn’t help that we don’t know where the exam is going to take place or how it will be administered. On paper? Online?

Stop and take a deep breath – you’re going to be okay.

Luckily, the test can be taken up to six times, so if you don’t like your initial score, you can try again. If you’re feeling nervous, take advantage of the teachers ready to assist you in preparation techniques and material.

Some teachers have already started to do this.
Mrs. Barmore signed up her algebra 2 and geometry students for the EdReady ACT prep program. “I had [students] do a few days to get started in the program,” Barmore said..

As someone who has done the EdReady program before, most of the program covers material from algebra 1, and even when you come across material you aren’t familiar with, there’s a ton of lessons available to help you.

If you don’t like to watch video lessons, then the text will probably help you as well. There are also practice problems within the text with their answers and, more importantly, explanations of how the answer was found. With that, your math portion should go smoothly. Just practice, practice, practice!

Our counselors are also awesome. Ms. Pandis, the counselor for students with the last name A-L, has been exceptionally helpful, and even found an ACT prep page for me, directly from the people who make the ACT.

Their first tip is to use common pacing strategies. “If possible, spend less time on each question and use the remaining time allowed for a section to review your work and return to the questions in that section that were most difficult for you,” it reads. Skimming over passages, reading the question, and then reading the text closer before answering the question could also help you. This strategy works most of the time, even with more difficult texts.

The second and third tips are to read the directions and questions carefully. These are self-explanatory, but the paper did mention something important: the different portions of the ACT want different types of answers. “The English, reading and science sections ask for the best answer. The mathematics portion asks for the correct answer,” it explains. In my opinion, the questions looking for the best answer are the hardest – especially the science ones. In these questions, there is a lot of fluff – extra information. Sylvan Learning recommends putting parenthesis around this “fluff” to leave just the raw question.

The ACT prep page also suggests skipping the hard questions and doing the easier ones first. Just be sure to skip the question for your bubble sheet and return to the question later! The paper suggests, “compare the answer choices to each other and note how they differ. Such differences may provide clues as to what the question requires.” After the section is over, you can’t go back to it later to change answers, so make sure you review your answers.

And, if the test is on paper and you decide to change your answer, be sure to erase well! “Be sure to use a soft eraser that will erase the unintended mark completely and not leave smudges. Do not cross out answers or use correction fluid or tape,” the guide reads.

Finally, the guide provides helpful websites to visit for further tips. You can visit to find out more information about the ACT and what test day will be like. There’s even a checklist you can find at that may be helpful for you.

So, are you feeling a little less stressed now? Isn’t it nice to be feel prepared?

Remember, standardized tests – of any sort – do not determine yours or anyone else’s intelligence. Keep your heads up, juniors. We’re in this together, and we’re going to do great!