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ACT Strategies

Teacher/Instructor Devorah Goldblatt
Devorah Goldblatt

Summa cum laude
Perfect scorer on the SAT & the ACT

Devorah is the founder of Advantage Point Test Prep and the author of the book “Boost Your Score” The Unofficial Guide to the Real ACT.

We talked about a lot of really powerful strategies in this course and you're probably getting close to test day. So what I want to do in this episode is just quickly recap these strategies so they're fresh in your mind before you get to the test.
Let's start by taking a look at our top English strategies. We talked about how when you see a word or a phrase or a sentence underlined, ask yourself three questions; first of all does it belong here, is it just wordy redundant, maybe just totally out place? Second is it grammatically correct? You know maybe you just have a sense, "Ouch! this just doesn't sound right here." And last, does it make sense, is it just the clearest and most concise way to say something? Next when in doubt take it out. We talked how if you're not sure you know, is this redundant, is it wordy, does it belong here? If you're not sure always take it out. Same thing with punctuation, if you're not sure should this period, should this apostrophe, should this comma be here? When in doubt always take it out 'cause more frequently that's what's going be correct. We talked about choosing the shortest answer and it's pretty neat to know that on the ACT, the shortest answer on the English is right, a third of the time. We talked about being wary of overcorrecting the answer choices and we talked about how actually the more an answer choice overcorrects and overhauls the original; the less likely it is to be correct.
Top math strategies; we talked about how on the Math section the easy questions are all throughout beginning, middle and end, there is no order of the difficulty. So there are going to be some easy questions at the end and you want to make sure you get to them. So make sure that you make two passes through the math section first of all the easy ones and the ones that you feel really good about and then later go back and you'll do the more difficult ones. You don't want to get stuck at a really difficult problem and then not make it to the easy ones at the end. We talked about eliminating eyeballs. If you're stuck and you're guessing remember that any misfits in the answer choices, you know, one of these things is not like the other, you've got only one answer choice with let's say a negative or a fraction, it's going to be incorrect so don't pick it. We talked about how diagrams are drawn to scale, they tell you they're not but they are. So on the geometry question if you're stuck see if you can kind of eyeball it and based on the measurements that they do give you, usually you can find the measurement that they're asking for just by estimation. We talked about choosing your own numbers, how if there are variables in the questions or the answer choices. Often times you can choose your own numbers and that's fine as long as they meet the requirements set in the problem. We talked about working backwards, if you have a word problem that has answer choices that are numbers, often you can save yourself a lot of algebraic work by actually plugging in backwards from the answer choices and we talked about how it's important to start with C. And last we talked about using your calculator, not just using your calculator but using the programs on your calculator. Check your bonus material because there is some great programs that will save you a lot of brain power on test day, for example things like finding the quadratic formula for you so you don't actually have to solve quadratic equations.
Top reading strategies, remember how we said don't read the passages in order. We said you know you're going to take practice tests you'll have a sense which passages feel better for you, which passage type and do those first while you're fresh and then when you run out of time and you're getting a little panicked towards the end, you'll run out of time on a passage type that's not really your thing anyway. So that's okay. Next, read the passage before the questions. You know students sometimes say should I look at the questions first and we've talked about how that's just not a good idea, huge time waster. You want to read the passage first and then head to the questions. Read in two sweeps, we said how we should first do; sweep one and the sweep two. Sweep one was that quick twenty to thirty second, just a reading of the passage and we talked about how important that is and the second sweep where you actually go through and really mark up the things that you're going to be asked about in the questions and last, remember the common answer traps things like; a misused detail, a detail that was really prominent in the passage and you'll think, "Aha I recognize that, that must be correct" but it's not. It's not the correct answer to your question.
Top science strategies. First don't read the paragraphs remember on the data representation and the research summary, there are these huge really technical paragraphs and you don't need them and you don't need anything labelled diagram either. What's important is to analyze the charts and the graphs and we talked about looking for labels, looking for trends and thinking about how the charts and the graphs relate to each other, if they're in one passage together. And last, conflicting view points, we talked about how it's important to do them separately. First read scientist one, then the questions about scientist one, then scientist two and the questions that are about just scientist two and then the questions about the two of them together. Okay so that's it for a quick review of the fantastic strategies we covered in this course. If you're feeling a little iffy about some of them that's the cool thing about a video course, go back and watch the episodes where we really delve into each of these strategies. You're going to do a great job on test day.