Let’s start this post off with a puzzling thought: ACT preparation isn’t as popular as SAT preparation, although more students take the ACT than the SAT. That’s weird, isn’t it? Why don’t students put as much energy into studying for the ACT? You might guess that it’s harder to study for, or something along those lines, but that’s really not true: the two tests are strikingly similar and you can prepare for the ACT pretty well even by using SAT material. I don’t recommend doing that if you’re just going to take the ACT, of course—it’s better to customize your prep to the test you’re actually going to take and get ACT tips you might not find in an SAT book—but it makes an important point. A lot of students seem to think they don’t need to study for the ACT, and that’s just plain wrong.
The fact is that you can bring up your ACT scores with some preparation time. So whether or not other people expect you to study is beside the point. A higher score means better college prospects and possible scholarship money. Don’t forget that, and don’t forget who benefits from it. Improving your score is a huge help to you and nobody else, really. So don’t think of it as a “have to"/"don’t have to" situation. Instead, consider how much of an opportunity you have to bring up your scores. How much time can you devote to the test? How many days/weeks/months do you have to study, and how many hours can you spend?
With a solid ACT study plan and good study material, you’ll have the chance to boost your college applications in a relatively short period of time. After all, improving your overall GPA, being active in clubs, and building good relationships with teachers takes years. So in comparison, that ACT prep time is valuable and efficient. You should definitely take advantage of that opportunity, even if you do have other responsibilities.
Clearly, it’s a bit tough to juggle normal schoolwork, any extra-curricular activities or work, a social life and whatever else is on your plate to begin with, so bringing on that extra bit of workload might seem hard or impossible, but don’t just write it off entirely! Even if you can only devote a couple hours per week, it’s something. Try to do just a little bit of studying every day. If you aim to do just 15 minutes of studying or practice, you’ll find that sometimes that 15 minutes turns into a more serious study session and you do have time for it after all. And if it doesn’t end up being more than 15 minutes, then at least that’s better than nothing!
This post was written by Lucas Verney-Fink, resident ACT expert at Magoosh. For more advice on taking the ACT, check out Magoosh’s ACT blog.