These top 10 ACT tips and strategies will give you an advantage over other students who do not know or use these tips. Most students treat the ACT as a normal test, just like the tests students take in high school.

However, the ACT is not a normal test. The ACT rewards students who utilize good ACT tips and strategies related to effective test taking. Knowing the content is not enough. You also need to know how to take the ACT and how to approach the ACT with a specific game plan. In fact, some of the best ACT tips are actually counter-intuitive to how you might take a regular high school test.

ACT Tips: Tip #1 – Read, Read, Read!


Reading is the foundation of the ACT test. The English test consists of five reading passages, the Math test contains many story problems, the Reading test consists of four challenging reading passages, and the Science test contains several passages that contain unfamiliar reading material.

Specifically, most of the raeding on the ACT is college level non-fiction. If you cannot read college level non-fiction well, your performance on the ACT will suffer significantly because you will both run out of time and have immense difficulty interpreting the passages and questions on the ACT test.

Therefore, begin making it a habit to read a lot. Reading at least an hour a day will result in more improvement to your ACT score than you might imagine.

ACT Tips: Tip #2 – The First Step to Defeating Your Opponent is Knowing Your Opponent

The second of the top 10 ACT tips is to know the ACT well. The more you know about the ACT, the more prepared and confident you will be. Also, knowing the ACT will help you avoid any surprises.

Learn the details of each section of the ACT: how long they are, how many questions are on them, how much time you have for each passage/question, what kinds of questions show up, etc.

To learn the details of the ACT test, visit the ACT Format: The Sections and Timing of the ACT Test page.

ACT Tips: Tip #3 – Make Sure Time is Your Friend, Not Your Enemy

ACT tips and strategies

For most students, time is an enemy that ruins their ACT score—most students run out of time, especially on the Reading and Science tests, long before they are finished with the test.

This can actually be good for you, because if you learn how to manage time well during the ACT, you will have that much of an advantage over the other students who take the test. Being prepared to deal with the time limitations of the ACT test sections can help you stand out among the crowd of ACT test-takers.


ACT Tips: Tip #4 – Know When to Skip a Question

The next of our ACT tips is to know when to skip a question. One reason why many students run out of time on the ACT is because they spend too much time on one difficult question. Learning how to skip questions will help you make sure you get to every question on the test so you do not miss any easy points.

On the English test, do not skip any questions your first time through the test.

On the Math test, skip questions that either will take a long time or you do not know how to do at first glance.

On the Reading test, consider skipping the Prose Fiction section to do last. Also, skip the questions without specific references or that deal with the passage as a whole to do last within each particular passage.

On the Science test, skip the Conflicting Viewpoints passage to do last. Also, skip around within each particular passage, doing the easiest questions first.

ACT Tips: Tip #5 – Just Because You Answer a Question Doesn’t Mean You Can’t Come Back to It

Mark down or circle the numbers of questions you answer, but are unsure about, to come back to at the end of the test. This will allow you to 1) not spend too long on one question, and 2) help you know which questions should be checked over at the end.

Most ACT prep books and guides do not teach this important ACT test taking strategy!

ACT Tips: Tip #6 – Bubbling is an Art, Not an Afterthought

Make sure you have a plan for bubbling. Bubbling the wrong way can be catastrophic—you might bubble in the wrong number for every question, or you might run out of time before you bubble in all your answers.

For the English test, bubble after every passage (15 questions at a time).

For the Math test, bubble after every two pages (left and right sides).

For the Reading test, bubble after every passage (10 questions at a time).

For the Science test, bubble after every passage (5, 6, or 7 questions at a time).

For all passages, when you hear the five minute warning, begin bubbling questions one at a time.

ACT Tips: Tip #7 – Answer Every Question / Make Sure Every Bubble is Filled

ACT tips and strategies

The seventh of the top 10 ACT tips is to make sure you do not leave any question blank. The ACT does not penalize for guessing, so definitely answer every single question and make sure every single bubble is filled before the end of the test.

Even guessing correctly on one question can make a big difference on your final composite ACT score! If you do not guess, you are giving away free potential points.

ACT Tips: Tip #8 – If You Must Guess, Guess Wisely

There are good ways to guess and bad ways to guess.

Good ways to guess include first eliminating wrong answer choices and choosing the answer that you feel is closest to being correct. If you need to fill in random answers at the end of a test, choose the same letter for every question. It is more likely that you will answer at least one question correctly if you always choose the same letter.

Bad ways to guess include not even considering the answer choices and filling in random answers. If you choose different letters for all of your guesses, you have a higher chance of getting them all wrong.

In any case, try to take the ACT test in a way where you never need to make blind guesses!

ACT Tips: Tip #9 – Figure Out Your Weaknesses, and then Overcome Them

ACT tips and strategies

After you learn how to take ACT practice tests effectively, take practice tests to determine areas of the ACT you are weak in. Analyze the results of the ACT practice tests you take. Then, work specifically to overcome these areas of weakness.

Common areas of weakness for students are the math content, certain grammar rules, managing time, and not doing questions in a good order.

ACT Tips: Tip #10 – Study Grammar and Math

Make sure you know your grammar rules and math concepts before you take the English and Math tests. Unlike the Reading and Science tests, the answers for English and Math are not found within the test—you must bring in outside knowledge to these tests.

Be prepared by learning the concepts that the ACT covers for the English and Math tests.

For a list of English concepts that the ACT covers, visit the ACT English Test: Format and Content page.

For a list of Math concepts that the ACT covers, visit the ACT Math Test: Format and Content page.

ACT Tips and Strategies for Each Section of the ACT

For more specific information about the best ACT tips and strategies for each section of the ACT, visit these pages: