Essential ACT Subject-Review Strategies for Each Section of the Test

Posted by Julia Wasson

Sep 9, 2014 7:32:00 AM

ACT review strategiesAs your child begins preparing for the ACT test, it’s important that he or she is aware of the strategies necessary to conquer the subject of each subtest. That’s why ACT subtest review is necessary to help your child feel more at ease and in control on the big day.

The following is a subtest strategy breakdown to jumpstart your student’s ACT review:

ACT Subtest Review: English

For the English portion of the ACT test, your student needs to understand how to search a sentence for possible errors. Finding grammatical errors requires reading a sentence or paragraph very carefully while “listening” in one’s head for a word or phrase to sound 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 your student already knows, rather than what he or she is able to figure out if given certain information.

ACT Subtest Review: Math

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

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

  • Your student is allowed to use a calculator, but he or she must first know how to approach the mathematical problems.

  • Have your student take an ACT practice test, and if he gets stuck on a problem, have him try to substitute numbers for variables.

  • If your student is really stuck on a math problem, he should draw upon his test prep strategy of plugging in numbers from the answer choices.

Leading up to test day, your student should review ACT math subject areas he knows well, but don’t expect him to learn a subject when he hasn’t taken the class.

ACT Subtest Review: Reading

Read, read, and read … but not just for fun. Your child should be challenging herself by reading complex texts. The best way to do this is by choosing a topic that your student is interested in and having her research and find related content on the web or in the library.

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

  • Have your student restate what he has read and then compare it to the original.

  • Make sure he gets the most out of each passage by previewing, reading, and reviewing.

  • Help him focus on the big ideas in a reading passage, not the small details.

  • Have him take notes as he reads, 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 your student becomes familiar with the format and content to use his or her time efficiently and effectively.

ACT Subtest Review: Science

The science section of the ACT test involves a lot of reasoning, as it measures your student’s 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 your student with ACT science test prep:

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

  • Encourage her to read publications like Scientific American or Natural History.

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

  • Inform her that she shouldn’t 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 your child should feel more intimidated by this section of the ACT test than others. Remind your child that big words may disguise simple concepts.

It’s critical that your student doesn’t cram for the test. Last-minute studying is only going to cause stress – and provide limited learning.

Engaging your student in ACT subject review test prep helps him or her learn the nuances of each subject section. The more ACT prep your child does, the better off he or she is going to be on test day.

Ready to get your student started with ACT subtest review? Check out our Subtest-Intensive Instructional Videos, or call toll free at 1-877-927-8378 to learn more.

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Topics: studying for the ACT, ACT test, college entrance exams

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