21 Strategies To Improve ACT Scores

Earn Yourself a Better Score on the ACT Exam


So, you took the ACT test, and now you're wondering what in the world you need to do to improve your ACT scores. They weren't what you wanted, and you're worried about nabbing a score good enough to get into your first (or even fifth!) pick. Don't worry; I've got you covered whether you need to boost ACT English, Math, Reading, Science Reasoning or your Writing score. Here are 21 separate ACT strategies to get those scores out of the gutter and into a more respectable place.

ACT Scoring 101 - Scaled, Raw, Percentiles and Everything Else

ACT English

ACT English
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The Test: ACT English

Your Score: Not impressive

The Problem: You underestimated the ACT English section. You thought, "Hey! It's English. How difficult can it be? I know grammar, spelling, word choice, and organization. I can choose the correct modifier placement 100 per cent of the time. Commas will never defeat me. Pronoun antecedent agreement is in the bag." You thought you could battle the ACT English section unprepared, but here's the issue: The ACT English section isn't an ordinary English test. Oh no. Many people make big mistakes, like misjudging the paragraphs and creating new errors the first time they take the test. Did you? Check out the top five ACT English errors and the best ways to fix them, below!

The Solution: Fix These Five ACT English Errors to Improve Your Score

ACT Mathematics

ACT Math
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The Test: ACT Mathematics

Your Score: Meh.

The Problem: You forgot the basics. Yes, you know basic trigonometry and yes your Algebra was spot-on (or so you say). However, when it came time to test, you were tripped up by similar answers. Those test writers really got you! You took your time solving every single problem instead of using the answers to your advantage, rounding and estimating as often as possible. You thought you'd get a formula sheet. Poor kid. You really didn't know what was in store for you. That's okay, though. This time around, you just need to follow the five very basic steps below to improve your math score so something like this doesn't happen again.

The Solution: Five Steps To a Better ACT Mathematics Score

ACT Reading

ACT Reading
Getty Images | Marc Romanelli

The Test: ACT Reading

Your Score: Hoo boy. Yeah. Not good.

The Problem: Wait? There's a problem with simply reading the passages in order and answering the questions? If this was your strategy for conquering the ACT Reading section – for knocking it out of the ballpark – then I'm not surprised you struck out. It is nearly impossible, unless you happen to be an incredibly skilled reader, to merely follow the ACT Reading test in order, and score really well. In fact, some kids won't even have time to finish the fourth passage or answer any its questions, because the time frame is so short – only 35 minutes to read four unrelated passages and answer 40 questions! That's not a lot of time at all. That's why you must employ some serious reading strategies, like reorganizing the passages according to comprehension and using your pencil as often as you can, to score well on this thing. Otherwise, you'll be headed back to the dugout with another strike-out marring your batting average.

The Solution: Five ACT Reading Strategies to Improve Your Score

ACT Science Reasoning

ACT Science Reasoning
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The Test: ACT Science Reasoning

Your Score: BWAH HA HA HA HA

The Problem: You thought you were taking a Science test. In order to improve ACT scores, you must realize that the Science Reasoning section isn't really a Science test. Sure, you'll read about science-related information and you'll contrast genomes, test tubes and pH levels in tables and graphs, but really, the ACT Science Reasoning test is a reading/critical thinking exam. Well, that explains a few things, huh? Every single one of the questions can be answered from the information provided to you in the passage; it's not like math, where you have to know the quadratic formula to solve. The Science test has a "Reasoning" attached to it for a reason; you'll need to use all of you critical thinking skills to master it. This is where the tricks come in. Knowing which passages to read first and how to quickly sort information is helpful when you're attempting to think your way through complex experiments and conflicting viewpoints. Learn them before you test again! They're a must!

The Solution: ACT Science Reasoning Tricks To Master the Test

Enhanced ACT Writing

ACT Writing
Getty Images | Nick Veasy

The Test: ACT Writing (a.k.a The ACT Essay)

Your Score: You stopped looking after Science.

The Problem: You figured that since the ACT Essay prompt was simple enough, you could just dive into writing without any sort of plan or map. Your English teacher always loved every essay you ever turned into her! What's the deal? The ACT English graders are looking for a few things that your English teacher may not have been on your last essay. The ACT essay graders want your writing to be well-constructed, focused and thoroughly developed. Perhaps the last essay you turned in for your English teacher was graded for credit or earned you an "A" because you were one of ten who turned it in. A typical, five-paragraph essay with hapless statistics and a shaky thesis will not earn you even close to a 6 (The ACT version of an "A"). Below are a few things that will.

The Solution: Tips For Writing a Fabulous Enhanced ACT Essay