Acing the ACT

Hey juniors (and sophomores and freshmen)! If you’re planning on applying to college, you’ve probably already heard of the infamous standardized test, the ACT. Combined with the SAT, these tests make up an important section of your college application that shows schools whether or not you’re ready to continue onto upper-level education in college. In fact, the ACT is so important that Memorial participates in a special statewide-sponsored exam date, which will fall on Tuesday, February 27th this year. On this day, only juniors will come to school. They’ll enjoy a delicious breakfast cooked by teachers and staff before taking a stab at one of the most crucial standardized tests of high school. Although it is argued that the ACT may not be a good indicator of how you actually are as a student, colleges still think it’s pretty important, so here are some things to keep in mind when you are preparing for it.


  • Do take advantage of the free exam offered at Memorial. Even if you are only slightly considering college, or are borderline about it, taking the ACT at Memorial allows you to try it out for free instead of paying the $63.00 you normally need for both the test and the writing section.
  • Know the type of test the ACT is. The ACT is less like a normal school test than you think; most of the knowledge that they are testing for should be built up from years of schooling. Think some fundamental math skills, english grammar skills and basic critical reading skills over facts and fancy formulas.
  • Don’t panic on or before test day. OK, it is a super important test, but breathe and relax and just try to do your best. After all, if you bomb it once, you can just use your experience as a gauge of how much you need to study/what you need to study. Thankfully in America you’re allowed to take the exam as many times as you’d like instead of in some other countries where you get only one chance to show all you know.
  • Learn some test taking strategies. If you even do a quick google search of standardized test strategies or ACT test taking strategies, you’ll find a whole boatload of good information. Doing well on the ACT is just as much about being a good test taker as about how much information you know. And being a good test taker is something that is quick and easy to learn, and could mean the difference between a 27 and a 30 even if you learn the skills a week before. Pay attention to tips like: if you come to a question you don’t know, skip it and come back, pace yourself (perhaps write down what time you should be halfway done with questions so you can gauge if you’re on track or not), and educated guess because there’s no penalty for wrong answers.
  • Use your results to improve. So let’s say you did worse than you wanted to. That’s completely fine, and it’s good that you took the test anyways because now you can pinpoint what sections you struggled the most on and improve on those sections. Or perhaps it’s the test day nerves that you know now prevent you from doing your best. Whatever it is, you have a perfect starting point to begin improving. The road is only up from here.
  • Test day checklist. No.2 pencils, a watch that doesn’t beep, a water bottle, healthy snacks, an approved calculator (most graphing calculators are good) and a spare calculator. Sit somewhere you can see the chalkboard and clock to keep track of time!


Good luck juniors and everyone else!

– Kelly Wu

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