Junior year can be challenging. Especially with the looming presence of standardized tests. For all those planning on taking the ACT, the first step towards success is simple: create a study timeline for your exam. Most students opt to take the ACT some time during their junior year. While test prep time will vary student to student, a good rule of thumb is to start preparing about 5-6 months in advance. Keep in mind that you may need to take the exam more than one time.
Six Months Before
Figure out if the ACT is the right exam for you! Test prep experts, like our Veritas team, are a great resource to help you figure out whether you should take the SAT or ACT. Test prep experts can pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses in standardized testing and direct you accordingly. If you chose the ACT, this is also the time to take a practice exam to establish your baseline score. Knowing your baseline score will allow you to create a realistic target score. Your baseline score can also help guide your choice of test prep courses.
This is the time to choose your course and talk to an expert about what course will best fulfill your learning needs. Veritas Prep offers three general kinds of ACT prep courses: Full Course, Private Tutoring, and On Demand. The 36 hour Full Course offers all live instruction. Private tutoring can be adjusted to your personal schedule and can also be in person or online. The On Demand Course offers HD video lessons that allow you to pause, fast forward, and rewind your lessons. Most ACT test prep courses run for about 6 weeks.
Four Months Before
Practice, practice, practice! Test prep courses will provide you with the foundation of essential skills you need to do well on the exam. Four months before the exam you should feel familiar with the exam and start focusing on specific strategies to improve your weaker areas.
This is also the time to choose your test date. Looking forward to the rest of the 2016 academic school year, ACT administration dates are:
- April 9th
- June 11th
The ACT website lists all test dates and registration deadlines. Registration deadlines are typically 5 weeks before the exam, although you can register later for an added fee. However, try and register early, as registering for the exam can provide extra motivation to study.
Two Months Before
Once you’ve completed the bulk of your test prep course, this is the time to take lots of practice exams and become very comfortable with the test. If there are still areas of the exam you feel uncomfortable with, this is a great time to really zone in on specific strategies with a tutor. Otherwise, you should focus on taking full-length exams. Once you feel comfortable with specific strategies and skills, the best thing you can do to prepare for the exam is to take full-length tests under real testing conditions (silent, no interruptions, timed, etc.).
The Night Before
Do not try and cram the night before. While it may be tempting to keep pushing yourself, keep in mind that you have studied for months for this exam. The night before the exam is a good time to relax so you feel well rested and ready to achieve success on your ACT!
Sarah Smith is a Pre-med, Bioethics major at Northwestern University. She’s editor in chief and co-founder of the student health magazine and enjoys being involved in various clubs around campus. Sarah is passionate about education and enjoys learning and teaching. She enjoys helping Veritas Prep students prepare for the ACT!