Where the SAT takes a closer look at literature, grammar, and vocabulary, the ACT focuses more on science and math. This guide will give you the ins and outs of building a comprehensive ACT study plan to set you up for success!
If you’re reading this article, you’ve probably chosen to take the ACT over the SAT. At a guess, you’re probably a more mathematically minded student. To that end, the ACT will test to ensure you have the baseline skills for colleges specializing in math and science-based majors or STEM.
While your strengths may lie in maths and science, you will still need a study plan to ace the ACT. While you can review and practice for the ACT, having a solid study plan will allow you to stick to a schedule, track your progress, and achieve your goal score.
How do you make a perfect ACT study plan? Where do you begin? The task may seem daunting if you need clarification on what resources are available. First, ask yourself, how much time do I need to study? Typically, students will have between one to six months, depending on their test date.
Regardless of the time you have to study, this article will help you take the guesswork out of building and sticking to an ACT study schedule. So, take a deep breath, and let’s get started!
Before jumping into the list, be aware that many colleges do not require standardized tests like they used to. However, having a great ACT score can help you stand out.
Before you put together your ACT study plan, you should start by figuring out what scores you need and what you can earn. Take a practice prep test to determine what areas of the ACT you must study the most.
If your performance isn’t great during practice, don't worry! Knowing your strengths and weaknesses is essential to help you focus your studying and improve along the way! You should have some direction to study based on what topics you struggled with.
Set your ACT score goal based on your college averages from this starting point. Remember to aim above the average requirement for colleges you’ll be applying to, as this will give you a better chance of admission. Knowing what score you need will give you a clearer trajectory for your ACT study plan and allow you to measure progress.
The next step is to map out your ACT study schedule. Think about how much time you need to study based on the goals you’ve set for yourself.
You should be able to adjust your ACT study plan as needed. If you’ve noticed that you need to relearn some content for the ACT, make sure you place content learning earlier on in your schedule. This method will allow you to focus on learning earlier and leave enough time for review and practice tests closer to your test date.
Second, consider your schedule. Think of everything you have to do before the exam. Give yourself plenty of room between major school tests and the ACT, and plan around your chosen date. You will likely have more time to study during a school break than during the school year, so give yourself time to recover between exams.
When setting your schedule, ensure that you set time aside from your regular coursework to maintain your high school GPA, as this will also be detrimental to your success as you apply for college.
Now that you’ve assessed how much time you need to study, it’s time to pick a test date and location! Make sure you feel confident you'll have enough time to meet your goals and do well on your test date.
When you pick your date, you will also have to choose a location to take the exam. Usually, this will be a nearby high school, college campus, or registered testing center.
Alternatively, if you're taking the test intending to take it again to do better, ensure you have enough time to retake it and receive your score before applying for college during your senior year.
Your ACT study plan should work with whatever method helps you learn best! Ensure you don't keep studying the same material either; change it up when you can by incorporating learning new content, reviewing, and untimed and timed practice. You need to apply and reinforce what you learn every step of the way!
To study most efficiently, ensure that you get organized by gathering and designating the appropriate test materials throughout your study. Below, we’ve listed some resources to get you started:
To successfully stick to your SAT study schedule, you’ll have to consider your day-to-day obligations and commitments. Mark your work, personal, extracurricular, and academic commitments on a calendar to plan better when to study. You must also take some days off to rest and refocus so you don’t burn out!
Ultimately, knowing your commitments and allowing yourself to rest will help you study more efficiently and stick to your ACT study schedule.
Now that we've outlined the steps you can take to begin planning your ACT study schedule, here are some examples of how you can set up your study plan depending on your timeline.
The ACT covers four major sections: Math, Science, English, and Writing. Your ACT score comprises the composite of your score in each section. Breaking down each section over your study time will help you plan and study better. Below you’ll find the major topics for each ACT section.
Knowing what each section comprises will help you better plan your schedule based on how well you do in practice and your known strengths. From here, pick the time frame that fits your needs.
A one-month ACT study schedule will crunch you the most compared to other schedules. Less will likely make for more time to study. To that end, we recommend you use the one-month ACT study plan for testing dates over the summertime, as you will have the most time available over one month since you won't have schoolwork.
During your One-Month ACT study schedule, break apart the test content along subject lines. Each week should have different goals, as demonstrated by the example schedule below.
The three-month ACT studying plan works the best out of all of them, as it gives you the most time within a period you will memorize and reinforce what you studied. This plan would also work well over the summer! Make sure to start after all your AP and exams end. You want to avoid studying too hard with other exams looming..
Over those three months, you'll likely want to dedicate specific days to study. Budget your time with a calendar and pick dates when you have extra time free from schoolwork or extracurriculars. Below you’ll find a three-month example study schedule.
The six-month ACT study plan gives you enough time to learn and review. A six-month schedule works well during a school semester, but it takes some planning. You'll want to use the extra time to plan around your busier schedule. See the example below for ways to dedicate time.
Use the Six months schedule to find whatever you need to learn. Schedule your review times around your needs. You'll know if you're making progress if the subject becomes easier. Save the review towards the end.
Below you will find some more specific questions from students about ACT study plans.
While how many hours you study for the ACT can depend on factors like your schedule, baseline knowledge, and how much time you have to study for the test. Try to meet the recommended 8-10 hours a week for ACT study.
Two months is enough time to study for the ACT. However, depending on your starting point and goal, you might need more to do well. A two-month study schedule may give you enough time to study but could conflict with a busy schedule.
Two weeks is not enough time to study for the ACT for most students. It’s always beneficial to take the material slower to give yourself enough time to process the test material. Aiming for one month of ACT prep is ideal if you're in a time crunch.
4. Is One Month Enough Time to Study for the ACT?
Like a two-month study schedule, one month will work best if you’re studying full-time for the exam. Depending on your goals, it can be beneficial to slow down the pace and take more time to review and apply what you’re studying. Consider a one-month ACT study schedule as the absolute minimum study time.
There is no best time to take the ACT. Consider your goals and baseline score before you schedule your test to ensure you have enough time to prepare. You should also consider the timeline and application deadlines for the colleges you intend on applying to as your deadline to take the test.
Ultimately, picking an ACT date should come down to your needs and how much time you need to prepare. A great way to pick test dates is to map out your college application timeline before you begin the application process.
You can start studying for the ACT as soon as you know you'll have to take it. Most students take the ACT during their junior year. Starting your study schedule early could give you enough time to take the test without worrying about becoming too busy with school. You’ll need to take the test before applying to college your senior year.
Don't feel afraid to ask for help regarding your ACT prep! Quad education has you covered with experienced ACT tutors.
Depending on your needs, Quad will pair you with tutors specializing in an individual section, considering most students have strengths and weaknesses. Each tutor will work with you through our standardized process.
Our tutors can help you build a specialized plan for your ACT prep--from assessment to implementing your study schedule. Quads tutors and consultants will help you see tangible progress as you reach your goal score.
The ACT and other standardized tests like the SAT are milestone exams students take to begin their journey into the college application process. It is essential to study adequately if you hope to accomplish what is required to get into your dream college. Following a strong ACT study plan will ensure your success.
While you can accomplish ACT study on your own, consider the worth of a coach or a tutor. They will personally make sure you know the material well enough to succeed. Remember, you should work with the dates calendar to be advantageous to your needs and study time. Start preparing early if you can!