How to score high on the ACT

The ACT stands for American College Testing, which is a standardized test for admission into colleges and universities after high school in the United States. Even though almost all colleges accept the ACT score, be informed that different colleges place different amounts of emphasis on it.

Your admission to a particular college is not based on your ACT score alone – colleges generally take into account your class rank in high school, and your involvement in extra-curricular activities as well.

Even though the ACT was initially started as a competitor to the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), it is generally assumed that the ACT has easier questions (in terms of difficulty of questions) than the SAT. However, the ACT usually gives less time to complete its questions, which pulls up the difficulty to levels comparable with the SAT.

The ACT has four sections – English, Math, reading and science reasoning. In 2005, a writing section was also introduced in the ACT. This article aims to give you some helpful tips regarding how to maximize your score in each of the five sections. Read on for more information.

  • For the English section. For the English section, make sure you have understood the style of writing properly. The style in which the question is written will more often than not be the style of writing you are trying to find among the answer choices. Also, for questions that have underlines, consider how the underlined answer choices will fit with the question best. While tackling questions with ‘No change’ as an answer choice, be doubly sure before marking this option. Re-check the question and the other answer options to be sure that there indeed aren’t any changes required.
  • For the Math section. The ACT generally places more emphasis on reasoning than on your ability to do difficult calculations. So the moment you find yourself calculating the square root of 61789 over the multiplication of 32.8 and -0.8, be reasonably sure that you have made some mistake. Another important thing to remember is that the calculator should be your friend, but not something you entirely depend on.
  • For the reading section. Read the passage carefully and keep track of the really important points. Skim through the facts and figures – you can always refer back to the passage the moment you encounter a question that requires you to write a number or a hard fact as answer. However, please keep in mind that it is absolutely essential that you keep filing away the main points in the article as you read it. Having said that, trying to answer a question just because you think your memory is serving you right from having read the passage is tricky. It is always better to see the passage again while answering a question.
  • For the science section. Some passages may have a large number of technical terms; don’t get worked up if you encounter such a passage. The terms are generally not required for the answers. However, just like the normal reading section, do remember to make a mental note of the points given in the passages in the science reasoning section.
  • For the writing section. The focus is not on the quality of your writing skills as much as it is on your ability to organize your thoughts regarding a particular matter coherently and legibly. Think of the main points that you want to elaborate on before you begin to write the article. Also keep in mind that it is preferable that you write at least five paragraphs n your article. Avoid grammatical and punctuation errors. They will not only result in deduction of marks, but will also leave a bad impression on the examiner.


I am Deepanjan Datta doing electrical engineering from the National Institute of Technology (NIT) Durgapur, India. I love to write, and develop software programs.