Posted by Julia Wasson

Sep 9, 2014 7:35:00 AM

As you begin preparing for the ACT test, it’s important to be aware of the strategies necessary to conquer the subject of each subtest. That’s why ACT subject-review is necessary to help you feel more at ease and in control on the big day.

The following is a subject strategy breakdown to jumpstart your ACT review:

ACT Subject Review: English

For the English portion of the ACT test, you'll need to understand how to search a sentence for possible errors. Finding grammatical errors requires reading a sentence or paragraph very carefully while “listening” in your head for a word or phrase that sounds wrong.

If no errors pop up by simply sounding out the sentence, look for one of the four most common types of grammatical errors:

  • Errors in the relationship between the verb and its subject

  • Pronoun errors

  • Sentence structure errors, such as redundancy

  • Awkwardness, verbosity, or incorrect use of idioms

The English portion of the ACT test (more than the other subject sections) assesses what you already know, rather than what you are able to figure out if given certain information.

ACT Subject Review: Math

ACT test prep for the math section comes down to focusing on mathematical reasoning, not on your ability to perform calculations. Since no formulas are provided on the test, it’s important that you know common algebra, geometry, and trigonometry formulas.

Here are a few helpful ACT prep tips for the math section:

  • You are allowed to use a calculator, but you must first know how to approach the mathematical problems.

  • Take an ACT practice test, and if you get stuck on a problem, try to substitute numbers for variables.

  • If you are really stuck on a math problem, draw upon your test prep strategy of plugging in numbers from the answer choices.

Leading up to test day, be sure to review ACT math subject areas you know well, but don’t expect to learn a subject when you haven’t taken the class.

ACT Subject Review: Reading

Read, read, and read … but not just for fun. Challenge yourself by reading complex texts. The best way to do this is by choosing a topic that you are interested in, then research to find related content on the web or in the library.

The following are ACT review strategies for the reading section of the test:

  • Restate what you've read, then compare it to the original.

  • Get the most out of each passage by previewing, reading, and reviewing.

  • Focus on the big ideas in a reading passage, not the small details.

  • Take notes as you read, marking the main ideas or connections.

The ACT reading test allows 35 minutes to read four lengthy passages and answer 40 questions based on those passages. Time is of the essence on this portion of the exam, so it’s important that you become familiar with the format and content to use your time efficiently and effectively.

ACT Subject Review: Science

The science section of the ACT test involves a lot of reasoning, as it measures your analysis, evaluation, and problem-solving skills within the natural sciences. This section of the test assumes that high school students who take the core science course of study (three years or more) will be prepared for college-level Earth science, physical science, and biology courses.

Here are a few tips to help you with ACT science test prep:

  • Practice analyzing and interpreting charts, graphs, tables, and diagrams, and look for related sets of data and ask questions about them.

  • Read publications like Scientific American or Natural History magazines.

  • In data representation passages, focus on what is being measured, relationships among variables, and trends in data.

  • Try not to get frustrated by irrelevant information or technical jargon – most science reasoning passages have these elements, so it’s fine to ignore them.

“Science reasoning” may sound impressive and/or difficult, but there’s no reason to feel more intimidated by this section of the ACT test than others. "Big" words may disguise simple concepts.

Don't cram for the test. Last-minute studying is only going to stress you out – and provide limited learning.

Prepare for the test using ACT strategies that address the nuances of each subject section. The more ACT prep you do, the better off you'll be on test day.

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