ACT Prep Tips & Tricks: How Can I Study for the ACT?

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What is the Best Way to Study for the ACT?

There are many methods to prepare yourself to take the ACT. Of course, you will want to study specific facts and formulas, but you will also want to consider your overall study strategy.

Identify your learning style.

  • Are you a visual learner, preferring to refer to pictures, charts and graphs?
  • Do you retain information better when you՚re listening rather than reading?
  • Do you need to paraphrase the contents of something you՚re reading to better understand it?
  • Once you՚ve zeroed in on your preferred style, you can organize your study materials to support it.

Take notes and mark up your study materials.

  • Taking notes is a great way to engage with the material that you՚re trying to learn.
  • Reinforce new material by underlining, highlighting and annotating your notes and other study materials like practice tests.

Reduce and manage stress.

  • Be sure to schedule breaks into your study plan in order to avoid burnout.
  • Give yourself opportunities to create test-like situations while studying by using a timer and taking practice tests.
  • Remember that part of test anxiety is worrying that you haven՚t prepared enough, even when you really have! you՚ve got this.

How to Remember What You Study

Use mnemonic devices to help yourself memorize facts, definitions and formulas that might show up on the test. Some mnemonic devices you might try are:

  • Chunking, or combining several pieces of information into larger units to improve your ability to recall them. For example:
    • Acronyms (where the letters in a single word stand for something else, such as remembering the names of the Great Lakes by using “HOMES” ) .
    • Acrostics (where the first letters of the words in a sentence or phrase help you recall something, like “Every Good Boy Does Fine” to remember the notes on the lines in a treble clef staff) .
  • Keywords can help you remember unfamiliar vocabulary words in any subject by connecting the sounds in a word to visual reminders. For example, you might remember the difference between two parts of the brain, the cerebrum and the cerebellum, by remembering the words “drum” (a large instrument, to remind you that the cerebrum is the brain՚s largest part) and “bell” (a smaller, hanging instrument, to remind you that the cerebellum is smaller and sits below the cerebrum) .

Loci, the Latin word for “places,” can help you remember things by associating facts or concepts with specific locations. For example, you might want to learn how a bill becomes a law — a long process — by associating each step with a landmark along a path that you frequently visit, such as your route from your house to school. By visualizing each landmark (which can be tied to a step in the legislative process) in order, you can help yourself remember the process of a bill becoming a law.

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