Standardized college entrance exams like the ACT are incredibly important to a huge number of students. You should pull out all the stops when studying for the ACT, but many students believe reasonable-sounding things that are unnecessary or actively detrimental to their success. Make sure you haven’t fallen into any of these traps in thought or habit so you can remain on the straight and narrow for your ACT prep work.


MYTH #1: If you’re not going to take the full practice test, don’t bother using it.


The fact of the matter is the ACT is a long, mentally taxing exam, lasting multiple hours. While you may not have any choice about this during the exam itself, you can and should pace yourself in practice. Just like a champion runner didn’t start training by running a marathon every day, the best ACT test-takers know that taking a practice exam piecemeal or section by section is no waste. As you start your ACT preparation, you will quickly find some sections easier than others. Perhaps you’re close to top marks in science but barely passing in writing. In this example, you might find it useful to take only the essay questions from multiple practice exams rather than the full test every time. It certainly can feel rewarding to complete sections in which your scores are consistently quite strong, but resist the temptation to spend so much of your valuable study time on subjects you are already comfortable with.


Many students also keep a busy extracurricular schedule or have a job outside of school. In this case, taking a full ACT practice exam every day may be untenable or impossible, so a simple solution is to take small portions of the test. This can take the form of using individual questions as flash cards or completing a section each night when you get home. It may feel unrealistic to practice the test in this manner—after all, you will have no such luxury when completing the actual ACT exam—but keep in mind that will likely be the only time you are restricted that way. In your preparations, you have much greater freedom to study around your schedule and you should take advantage of it if needed.


MYTH #2: Only take practice tests when you believe you’re ready for the real ACT.


Spend a minute to think about this myth if you subscribe to it. What is the best way to measure the effectiveness of your study techniques? Evaluate your progress regularly, starting as soon as possible. If only to serve as a personal benchmark, take a free practice exam online as you begin to prep for the ACT for the first time. Far from being a waste of time, this initial practice test will likely be the lowest-pressure ACT you’ll ever take. Naturally, you should work hard and try your very best, but a low score here means nothing, and there is nowhere to go but up. After scoring this first practice exam, reflect on your feelings and thoughts during the test. Did you answer each question even if you had to guess? Did you find yourself running out of time on one or more sections? For each of your incorrect answers, does the intended solution make sense? Suddenly this “pointless” test has become an important starting point on your journey with valuable information for your future studying.


MYTH #3: Only practice tests that cost money are worth your time.


It may be the case that parents of students find themselves subscribing to this myth than students themselves. Many parents fully believe that the only proper ACT prep resources are official, and the only official resources are at a cost premium. However, this is entirely untrue. ACT, Inc., the providers of the ACT exam, offers several official and free practice exams online. There are also many unofficial yet high-quality ACT practice exams available from various reputable sources.


When working with Mackler Associates, there is no need to pay for additional exams, as all the resources and training you need are included. While studying for the ACT alone may be daunting, with the help of Mackler, you’re sure to succeed and be accepted to the University of your dreams!