6 skills you need to master for the ACT

In broad terms, the ACT tests students' English, Math, Reading, and Science skills. However, if you've started studying for the exam, you know there's a lot more to it than that. Certain concepts and question types come up time and time again, and preparing for precisely what’s on the test is important if you want to perform your best.

English

Connecting clauses: Knowing which punctuation marks to use between clauses is one of the most frequent concepts you'll encounter on the ACT. After identifying the independent and dependent clauses within a sentence, make sure you know the rules for using periods, semicolons, colons, commas, and dashes between clauses.

Transitioning between ideas: Read the whole sentence, both before and after the underlined portion. Ask yourself how the two ideas relate (contrast, support, cause & effect, or sequence). Pick the most succinct answer choice that connects the ideas accordingly.

Math

Solving systems of equations: Linear equations appear frequently on the ACT. Know how to use the substitution technique or the elimination method—whichever you’re more comfortable with—to find the solution to a system of linear equations.

Calculating percentages: While most students probably think that they have a pretty good feel for percentage questions, the ACT has a few tricky ways of testing percentages. Make sure to carefully translate the question prompt before setting up an equation and solving for a percentage.

Identifying the author's purpose: Consider the tone and theme of the passage. Ask yourself two questions. First, what is the author trying to accomplish with this information? Second, what would the passage lose if this word, line, or paragraph were removed?

Science

Making sense of conflicting viewpoints: This is the only part of the ACT Science section where it’s necessary to read the whole passage. Don’t skip the introduction, and make sure to underline key information as you read each hypothesis.