Below, you will find our action plan for preparing for the ACT. If you're a newcomer to the test, the following information will be invaluable to you.
Step 1: Take a mock ACT for a baseline measure. If you would like a mock test, please use this link to download and print it, if you like. You should expect to spend about 3.5 hours working on this test, and it should be taken all at once. You can also download four more practice tests here, here, here, and here. I would also point you towards a comprehensive book that can be found here, which includes three full-length practice tests, answers, and explanations.
Also, feel free to visit the Reddit page here. It contains 77 full-length ACT tests, too. It also has robust discussion around the ACT for you to read through and gain further understanding of the test.
Step 2: Now that you have taken your mock test, reflect on how it went by identifying strengths and weaknesses. You should also identify a target score. This is important because it gives you something to work towards. Typically, most ACT scores improve five points given sufficient time in preparation and depending on the starting score. The lower the score, the more opportunity for growth.
Step 3: Start attacking your weaknesses based on the score breakdown from the mock test. I will list a plethora of resources below for you.
English - The Complete Guide to ACT English, College Panda's ACT English, and Complete SAT and ACT Grammar and Punctuation Rules.
Math - College Panda ACT Math Guide, College Panda ACT Math Workbook, The Guide to ACT Math: Skip the Prep Classes, Quantum ACT Prep, The Ultimate Guide to ACT Math, Cliff Notes Math Review to Standardized Tests.
Reading - The Complete Guide to ACT Reading
Science - For the Love of ACT Science, Understanding the ACT Scientific Reasoning
Writing - Mighty Oak Guide to Mastering the 2016 ACT Essay, Free Practice ACT Essays
General ACT Strategy Guides: Ivy Global, Barron's, Princeton Review, McGraw Hill
In addition to this, you must keep reading challenging text. Please use the list of non-fiction recommendations here or fiction recommendations here. If you don't enjoy reading novels, you're welcome to check out other literary resources, such as The Atlantic, The New Yorker, The Economist, and Grantland (if you enjoy sports).
Also, if you're self-motivated and want to track your progress, use UWorld. It's a wonderful online platform that will track your progress, in addition to challenging you and tracking time.
Step 4: As you begin studying, if you find yourself getting frustrated or further confused, please consider using private tutoring to get you on track. You're welcome to call, text, or email me any time. Tutoring can help boost your confidence, make you more comfortable with the strategies, and provide an action plan to move forward with once you're ready to move on from tutoring. Most students need between 15 - 25 hours of tutoring to reach the score they desire. This allows for personalized time to focus on the opportunities for growth, as well as going question-by-question in extreme depth. Also, a skilled tutor will be a friend that keeps you accountable and provide specific problems that target continued weaknesses. Simply talking with a tutor helps you understand the questions and strategies.
Homework: Generally, you should expect to spend about an hour on homework for every one hour you work with a tutor. The usual homework assigned would be two or three sections of an ACT test depending on the progress the student makes during tutoring. The goal would be to eventually complete five full ACT tests before the test date. However, most of our students take upwards of ten full tests before the test date.
Step 5: If you haven't done so already, please sign up for the ACT here. The ACT is administered seven times per year in September, October, December, February, April, June, and July.
VERY IMPORTANT: The ACT offers Test Information Release three times per year. This allows you to receive a copy of your test questions and answers. Sign up for this in advance of your test date if you can. It does cost a little bit more, and it takes about six weeks to receive your results, but it is so worth it. Currently this service is offered for the December, April, and June tests. For more information about this service, please click here.
After completing this plan, you should be ready to perform at your best ability. If you have any questions or would like to discuss tutoring options, please reach out to me.