ACT Tips of the Day from Powerprep.com


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Sketch Figures
Sketch figures from the information given. They will help you see relationships like congruences, perpendiculars and diagonals more clearly.

Allocate Your Time Wisely
DO practice pacing yourself to get a feel for the time allotments and how fast you must work to finish each area.
DO use your watch and write down the time you start each section so you always know exactly how much time you have left.
DON'T let yourself go so fast that you lose points on easy questions through careless errors.
On difficult problems, circle them and move on. Go back with the time you have remaining and try to work them or guess at the answer.

Best Time To Study
Study before sleeping and upon awakening. Max your retention by cutting off the TV and don't tolerate other distractions. Review right before going to sleep and again as you awaken.

Watch The Question's Wording
Don't skim the questions; pay close attention to qualifying words, such as not , least, all, most, some, none, always, usually, seldom, sometimes, never, best, worst, highest, lowest, smaller, larger. When you find a qualifier in one of the answer choices, a good way to determine if it is the best choice is to substitute related (maybe opposite) qualifiers and see which makes the best statement.
Change your Mind
Change your mind on an answer choice you've made? Researchers suggest that you should change your answer when you change your mind. Your second answer is more likely to be the correct one.

Tips on Guessing
All questions are worth the same number of points and are not arranged in order of difficulty. So, move quickly forward; don't get hung up on any one question. This way you can get to all those questions where you can do quite well.

Be Smart About Guessing
There is no penalty for incorrect answers so never leave a question unanswered. But, be smart about it. Max your probability for a correct answer by eliminating the probably wrong answers and guess from the rest. Check for confirmation on your guess in these ways:
(a) In the main idea of the passage watch for key words found in one of the answer choices.
(b) On questions that are more familiar, eliminate answer choices that are obviously wrong then search for the key words using your familiarity of paragraph content to know where to look for that topic.

How Fast Should You Read
There is always a trade-off between speed and comprehension. Read as fast as you can as long as you get an understanding of what the passage is about and a general idea of the content of each paragraph. Find out how fast you should read by timing yourself when you practice.
Read All Answers Before Deciding
The English, Reading, and Science Reasoning Tests ask for the 'best' answer. Read all choices and pick the best, not just correct answer choice.

Check Your Answers
If you've got time here is the sequence to follow:
Be sure your answers are marked in the proper place on the answer sheet.
Be sure to answer all questions even if you have to guess.
Use a calculator or scratch paper to check your Math calculations.
Check answer sheet for stray pencil marks that could be misread by the scoring machine.
Be sure you've marked only one answer for each question

Practice Tests
Work lots of practice tests. Like all standardized tests, the Math section contains the same type of problems year after year. They may look different, but the type remains the same. After you have done enough practice problems, you will become good at determining what any ACT problem is about by just one look.

Tough Scientific Reasoning Passages
Sometimes you will be overwhelmed by the foreign subject matter and the complex, highly technical terms. You're not expected to know about all those things. You're expected to demonstrate the very important skill of tackling unfamiliar information, sorting out, and drawing conclusions. Learn how to dig out information from graphs and tables instead of looking at them superficially. The answers are ofter obvious and readily available.

Prioritize Math Problems
Assign these three levels of priority:
First, Work on those you know how to answer.
Second, Work on those that have familiar concepts and procedures.
Third, Circle and save the really tough ones for last. Mark these first time around and return to them only after you have finish all others. Solving problems build confidence and the hard ones may be easier the second time around after you've become more familiar with ACT's way of saying things.

Distracters in Math
In the Math section, expect to see wrong answer choices derived by simple math errors or by forgetting what the problem asks. A good precaution is to circle what the problem states as the requirement for the answer.

Visual Estimation
Although the ACT will say 'figures are NOT necessarily drawn to scale', in most cases they are pretty close, so eyeballing the figures can help eliminate wrong answers.
For example, estimate the size of angles by comparing them to what you know about the size of 30, 45, 90 and 180-degree angles. Use the corner of your test booklet or answer sheet as a protractor - it is 90 degrees, folded in half, it is 45 degrees.
Also, use your test booklet as a ruler to compare the length of one known side with the length of an unknown side.

Traps in English Usage
Some answer choices have the 'ing' verb, such as, walking. Such verbals are frequently clumsy and not necessary. Check those choices out carefully before selecting them; although, they are not automatically wrong.

Reading Test Questions
Questions on the Reading Test are not particularly tricky but you'll be ahead if you know what to watch for. Here is how:
(a) Read the passage and get a feel for its overall content and the author's attitude about the subject.
(b) Take time to understand the question. This is very important. A careful reading for 'precisely' what the question is asking is more important than a careful reading of the passage. When you come to a question about something you remember from your reading: stop, answer it and move on.

Reading Comprehension
Only select answers that are in the passage; resist the temptation to add your personal knowledge.

Reading Skills
Many questions require you to search out and interpret information stated explicitly: a date, a name, an event, etc. Do those first; they take less time and correct answers are often obvious. Answers to questions that must be reasoned out won't be stated explicitly. Do those last; they take the most time and are usually the hardest.

How To Be An Active Reader
Force yourself to keep your mind on the passage and to think carefully about what you've read.
(a) The first one or two paragraphs contain something vitally important, the main idea of the passage. Find it and mark it.
(b) As you begin each paragraph, identify the general nature of the new information being presented.
(c) Circle all 'reversal words'. These are words indicating exceptions or changes in direction, such as: although, but, however, not, whereas, on the other hand, nevertheless, etc.

English Passages
After selecting what you believe is the right answer, read it back to yourself as part of the whole sentence. Make sure it sounds right to you.

Vocabulary In Context Questions
The trap is that the same word can have a different meaning based upon how it is used. Here is how to tackle this type question:
(a) Examine the context in which the word is used by reading the sentences that surround that word for clues.
(b) If you have no idea of what that word in this setting means, think of possible substitute words that make sense in the sentence. Check to see if any answer choice is similar to the words you thought of.