Taking a Practice Test
Through the example of Miss Molly Bloom, we’ve shown you
why studying practice tests is an extremely powerful tool. Now we’re
going to explain how you should take practice tests in order to
put that tool to best use.
Controlling Your Environment
Although no one but you needs to see your practice test
scores, you should do everything in your power to make the practice
test feel like the real ACT. The closer your practice resembles
the real thing, the more helpful it will be. When taking a practice
test, follow these rules:
Take the tests timed.
Don’t give yourself any extra time. Be stricter with yourself
than the meanest proctor you can think of. Also, don’t give yourself
time off for bathroom breaks. If you have to go to the bathroom,
let the clock keep running; that’s what’ll happen on the real ACT.
Take the test in a single sitting.
Training yourself to endure the full duration of the test should
be part of your preparation.
Find a place to take the test that offers no distractions.
Don’t take the practice test in a room with lots of people
walking through it. Go to a library, your bedroom, a well-lit closet—anywhere
Now, having stated the rules of practice test taking,
we can relax a little bit: don’t be so strict with yourself that
studying and taking practice tests become unbearable. The most important
thing is that you actually study. Do whatever you have to do in
order to make your studying interesting and painless enough that
you actually do it. Set specific goals for your studying, and reward
yourself when you achieve them.
One way to help yourself actually take practice tests
may be to take individual Subject Tests rather than the entire ACT.
Yes, we just advised you to take the entire test in one sitting.
And we stand by that advice. But if you don’t have three free hours
to throw around, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take practice tests.
Since the ACT is conveniently broken up into four sections that
test different subjects, you can always take a single practice Subject
Test in an hour or less.
Ultimately, if you can follow all of the rules listed
above to the letter, you will be better off. But, if following those
rules makes studying excruciating, find little ways to bend them that
won’t interfere too much with your concentration.
Practice Test Strategy
You should take each practice test as if it were the real
ACT. Don’t be more daring than you would be on the actual test,
guessing blindly even when you could first eliminate an answer.
Don’t carelessly speed through the test. Don’t flip through this
book while taking the practice exam just to sneak a peek. Follow
the rules for guessing and for skipping questions that we outlined
in the chapters on strategy. The more closely your attitude and
strategies during the practice test reflect those you’ll employ
during the actual test, the more predictive the practice test will
be of your strengths and weaknesses and the more fruitful your studying.