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Taking the ACT

Teacher/Instructor Devorah Goldblatt
Devorah Goldblatt

Case Western Univ., 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.

I want to talk to you about actually taking the test but first let me you a quick story. One of my students who I had a couple of months ago IN one of my classes had been a vegetarian for probably about five or six years and you know what? The night before the test she started craving a Big Mac, why? I have no idea maybe all her friends were having it and it just looked really good. Maybe she was actually iron deficient and didn't know. Whatever the reason, she actually ate it and you know what? On test day she got really, really sick and after all of her months of preps she actually had to leave and take the test again months later. So it was a big disappointment why I am I telling you this story? Well there's some things that you can do that don't related directly to test preparation but can still help you go in and ace the test on test day. Let's take a looking at those things today.
Let's first start with kind of a pep talk. I want you to know why you should feel confident going into test day. A couple of things first of all 'keeping the test in perspective' to help you feel really good. Remember even if you're a little worried the ACT is just one part of your whole college application and colleges will also look at things like your essay, your volunteer work, your GPA, which you spent four years getting instead of three and a half hours getting your ACT score, and you know what? Ten years from now no one's going to be saying, "Hm. How did you do on your ACT? Tell me about it" really. Also reflect on all the work you've done and you've worked really, really hard. You know you've got your videos, your bonus materials, hopefully you took a lot of practice tests. Maybe you started out, you barely even knew what the test looked like and now you've really come a long way. So now you're feeling good let's talk about some specifics for test day.
Let's start talking about what to bring, what you want to pack the night before the test day. So things like a 'test center admission ticket'. That's a big deal they won't let you in if you don't have one. 'Acceptable I.D' that's another thing to bring that or they won't let you in. 'Number two pencils with erasers' and I say bring the wooden ones. You easily know that they're number two it says number two and you know what? The tip is a little bit wider and will be quicker to bubbling your answer choices with this pencil rather than a mechanical pencil so bring a few of these. A watch definitely so you can keep track of time. A calculator and make it one you're comfortable with, make it the one you use all the time don't make it some really fancy one you haven't used before and make sure you bring an extra battery 'cause I've had students that have had their batteries die and that's never a good thing. 'Bottle of water or energy drink and a snack', a healthy snack maybe something whole grain with something with a little bit of protein like whole grain granola. So that's what you should bring.
What shouldn't you bring? These are the things that they just won't allow in the test center at all so don't bother bringing them. Books, notes, scratch paper, highlighters, a lot of my students are really sad about that but no highlighters not even for reading so don't bring them. Colored pens or pencils, correction fluid a.k.a white out you can't have it so don't bring it. Any electronic device and reading material all of these are not okay in the test center. Don't cram, that's another thing to know. The night before I had some students really, really, really want to just try to cram in more information. You know what? Studies show that really doesn't even work. So instead, just spend the night before just relaxing, feeling good and psyching yourself up for the next day and remember, don't get adventurous. Remember my Big Mac story? Just stay home, just relax. Another quick story, I had a student who relieved his stress by skate boarding and you what? He showed up to the test with a cast on his writing arm. You don't want that to happen to you. So just stay home, take it easy and psych yourself up for the big day.
'Test day' a couple of tips. First of all, I'm going to sound like your mother but eat a decent breakfast. You don't want to get distracted because let's say your stomach is grumbling or you get that woozy feeling you get when your blood sugar deeps. Eat breakfast and make it a good breakfast something healthy like whole grain toast and an egg, maybe a banana, altogether something like that. Okay, bring your dog just kidding. Dress for success and dress for the test. Let me tell you what I mean. First of all wear layers. I've been in test centers that are freezing and test centers that are really, really hot. So you want to have layers so based on the temperature you can either strip it off not all off but mostly off or pile it on and next, dress for success.
You know what? This is a personal thing I have a lot of students who say I'm just going to go with my pajamas, it's a Saturday, you could. I say you feel a little better about yourself and you have more confidence when you dress up a little bit. So I recommend dressing for success, you know dressing up a little bit more than you would otherwise. And last, leave yourself enough time to get to where you're going and if it's a place that's a little unfamiliar, map quest it and maybe do a trial run. I actually have had students who showed up one or two or just three minutes late and the proctor actually didn't even let them in. So that's it for some tips remember for test day. I am so excited for you. You have done so much work and I am sure you're going to go in there and ace that test.