Developing Your Late in the Game ACT Study Plan
With just a week to go until exam day, you may feel pressure start to build and your nerves grow more jittery. That’s okay. The ACT test is one of the most important steps yet in your path towards college, and if you gave it the same respect as a normal math or science quiz, we’d be worried about you. Any apprehension at this stage is normal. Just don’t let it affect your studies. See, the more prepared you are on the actual day, the less it will feel like a big deal. Luckily, you have five days left to amp up preparation. Don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s too late. This next week can make a significant difference if you take it seriously and develop a Late in the Game ACT Study Plan. Our recommendations:
Get in the correct frame of mind.
Hopefully, you’ve started studying way before now, looking at test-specific materials and taking practice exams. It’ll definitely make the big day easier. So if you have, good job. Pat yourself on the back. What you’ve covered will not mysteriously leave you. However, if you haven’t prepped with training materials, now is a good time to start. Don’t assume you’re too far behind for it to do any good, especially if you’ve made the most of the lead-up time till exam day. How can you do that? Remember, the ACT is just a reflection on college-ready concepts and materials that you’ve either already been introduced to (seniors), or that you will be introduced to in the future (sophomores).
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And don’t panic.
No matter where you start your Late in the Game ACT Study Plan, you’ve already got training that you may not realize in existing coursework and tests. If your grades have been consistently strong, then have confidence you will see familiar things in the testing materials over the next week and on exam day. You’re not going in cold turkey, so don’t psyche yourself into thinking that you are.
Block out time.
Once you’ve reconnected with what you know, make sure to block out time this next week and commit two to three hours per day to prep work. If you’ve been avoiding test-specific training materials, stop doing so. Keep telling yourself not to be intimidated. You’re not going to encounter anything so far out of the realm of understanding that you can’t overcome. But it’ll be a lot easier if you put in the time and focus on the right areas. When planning these next few days, look for time that you normally spend doing other things.
The two to three hours we’re suggesting don’t have to be back to back to back. You can split them up throughout the day; in fact, we suggest you do. Get a timer to speed up your sense of urgency — there should be one on your smartphone — and schedule out one-hour increments throughout the day. If you take those sessions seriously, you’ll accomplish so much more than you would grouping it all together.
1. A three-hour chunk of time is harder to set aside in your fast-paced life and it’s more intimidating, thus building a stronger sense of dread.
2. Your attention span has a more difficult time staying jazzed for three consecutive hours of work than it does for one hour with breaks in between.
3. It will force you to look at how you’re spending your day and assist you in becoming a more organized person. And with tests like this, organization is essential to effective prep work. Get a handle on that, and higher test scores are just around the corner.
Get a retired test or two. (The more recent the better!)
The folks at ACT make retired tests available from time to time on their site. The more recent examples you can find the better, because the test doesn’t undergo significant changes without some fanfare about it. The more recent examples you’ll find at our site and the ACT testing site are excellent indicators of what you’ll see on exam day.
We suggest taking two or three practice exams in the week leading up to the big day. When you do, make sure the conditions that you set are distraction free. Be a stickler for time, not allowing yourself any extra seconds. Also, keep out the distractions. You won’t be able to pause for a game of BioShock in between sections, so don’t even think about it. The closer you come to reproducing the actual testing environment for these practice runs, the easier it will be on Saturday.
Study material two-by-two.
You might call it the Noah’s Ark approach. One day, focus on English and Math. The next, go with science reasoning and reading. The next, science reasoning and math. And finally, English and reading. That’s four days. Maybe sprinkle in a practice exam for just those sections each day, and then commit two days wholly to taking the exam straight through. You’d be surprised at how far you can come in just six days time.
Do a test run to get comfortable with test day.
A time will come when you’ve done all the studying you can do. But don’t let the work you’ve done distract you from the actual test day. You’ll want to be as comfortable as possible with the testing environment, the location where the test is being administered, and the timing required to get there on time without being disqualified as a late arrival. We suggest doing a test run to the site the day before the exam. Know how long it will take you to arrive at the testing center. Be aware of the building layout and traffic. These steps will help you be there on time without feeling frazzled by little things that don’t deserve your concerns.
Finally, on the big day, show up ready to rock.
The ACT exam doesn’t have to be as intimidating as it is. Remember you’re coming to it with a certain degree of the knowledge it takes to do well. With wise use of your lead-up time, a focus on test-specific training materials, and a commitment to take the time you have left seriously, even a week is enough time to get prepared and boost your scores.
Good luck this week, everyone!