Studying for the ACT … the right way


By Alexis Cook, Staff Writer

American College Testing, better known as the ACT, is a very important and lengthy test that will determine students chances of getting into their dream school.

Students spend months preparing for this test and many will take it multiple times, but are they studying for it in the right ways?

Fairmont English and Theater teacher Ryan Lamb is an ACT expert with valuable knowledge and training that can help prepare students. 

“Tips and tricks might get you a point or two, but the ACT tests what you know and what you can do. This test requires stamina and focus; there is no magic formula,” Lamb said.

Practice makes perfect. The more students practice, the better chances they have finishing in time and still getting a high score. Lamb and other English teachers emphasize the importance of time and being able to read faster and more efficiently. 

While there are training centers, tutors and numerous test prep books to help, Lamb is confident in the preparation the students get while at school each day.

“The absolute best preparation for the ACT is a good high school curriculum, which we offer here at Fairmont. Take practice tests, check your answers, build on your strengths, find your weaknesses and pay attention in class,” Lamb said.

Lamb also suggests reading the book Up your score: ACT.

“It is a student-friendly preparation book that has some test taking strategies, but primarily focuses on the academic skills students need to be successful on the test and beyond,” Lamb said.

A basic breakdown of the ACT is the following: the English section is 75 questions and five passages in 45 minutes, the math portion is 60 questions in 60 minutes, reading is 40 questions and four passages in 35 minutes, and science is 40 questions and six passages in 35 minutes.

The highest score an individual can receive is a 36, but not everyone needs a perfect score. The required score really depends on what college the student is trying to get into or what scholarships they want to be awarded. 

The average ACT score for Ohio in 2018 was 20.3. Fairmont had an average of 21.

If students do not receive the score they wanted and or needed their first time taking the ACT, they can take it again. Fairmont and other area schools offer numerous testing dates throughout the year. 

Jon Cridge, a math teacher at Fairmont, also offers study sessions for the ACT after school.

One of the best ways to study is to take an actual practice test. Erica Perkins, also a math teacher at Fairmont, gave her students a site called March2Success. Students can take a practice ACT test and also do lessons on the site which will help prepare them for the ACT.

Since this is a timed test, the guessing strategy for the questions students do not know will be their best friend. Students should always eliminate answer choices that they know are wrong. They should not just randomly guess, rather they should make sure to guess strategically.

Lamb says that the column method beats the Christmas tree method when it comes to filling out random answers due to running out of time. Pick a letter, and fill out that letter for the rest rather than selecting random letters.

Never leave a question blank on the ACT either. There is no penalty for picking the wrong answer since you earn a point for every right answer.

Each individual learns a certain way, so students should study the way they learn best. An important factor many students may forget is to maintain self-care. Many people will push off sleep and other necessary healthy rituals.

It is important to have good mental and physical health before taking the ACT. That is why it is crucial to start preparing for the test months in advance, not the night before. 

“Study, review and practice and you’ll do well,” Lamb said.

Check the ACT Website for upcoming testing dates and locations: