Studying Your Practice Test
After grading your test, you should have a list of the
questions you answered incorrectly or skipped. Studying your test
involves going through this list and examining each question you
answered incorrectly. When you look at each question, you shouldn’t
just look to see what the correct answer is, but also why you got
the question wrong and how you could have gotten the question right.
Train yourself in the process of getting the question right.
Why Did You Get the Question Wrong?
There are three reasons why you might have gotten an individual
- Reason 1: You thought you knew
the answer, but you actually didn’t.
- Reason 2: You managed to eliminate some answer
choices and then guessed among the remaining answers; sadly, you
- Reason 3: You knew the answer but made a
You should know which of these reasons applies to every
question you got wrong.
What Could You Have Done to Get the Question Right?
The reasons you got a question wrong affect how you should
think about studying your practice test.
If You Got a Question Wrong for Reason 1: Lack of
A question answered incorrectly for Reason 1 identifies
a weakness in your knowledge of the material tested on the ACT.
Discovering this wrong answer gives you an opportunity to target
your weakness. When addressing that weakness, make sure that you
don’t just look at the facts.
For example, if the question you got wrong covers the
formula for the area of a circle, don’t just look at that formula
and memorize it. Take a quick look at circles in general, since
if you were confused about this one topic, you might also be unsure
about others related to it. Remember, on the real ACT you will not see
exactly the same question as the one you got wrong. But you probably will see
a question that covers the same topic as the practice question.
For that reason, when you get a question wrong, don’t just figure
out the right answer to the question. Learn the broader topic of
which the question tests only a piece.
If You Got a Question Wrong for Reason 2: Guessing
If you guessed wrong, review your guessing strategy. Did
you guess intelligently? Could you have eliminated more answers?
If yes, why didn’t you? By thinking in this critical way about the
decisions you made while taking the practice test, you can train
yourself to make quicker, more decisive, and better decisions.
If you took a guess and chose the incorrect answer,
don’t let that sour you on guessing. Even as you go over the question
and figure out if there was any way for you to have answered it
without having to guess, remind yourself that you should always
guess. It pays to engage in educated guessing by which you eliminate
as many wrong answers as you can—even if educated guessing doesn’t
always result in your getting the right answer.
If You Got a Question Wrong for Reason 3: Carelessness
If you discover you got a question wrong because you were
careless, it might be tempting to say to yourself, “Oh, I made a
careless error,” and assure yourself you won’t do that again. That
is not enough. You made that careless mistake for a reason, and
you should try to figure out why. Whereas getting a question wrong
because you didn’t know the answer constitutes a weakness in your
knowledge about the test, making a careless mistake represents a
weakness in your method of taking the test.
To overcome this weakness, you need to approach careless
errors in the same critical way you would approach a lack of knowledge.
Study your mistake. Reenact your thought process on the problem
and see where and how your carelessness came about. Were you rushing?
Did you jump at the first answer that seemed right instead of reading
all the answers? Know your error and look it in the eye. If you
learn precisely what your mistake was, you are much less likely
to make that mistake again.
If You Left the Question Blank
Since there is no penalty for wrong answers on the ACT,
you should never leave a question blank.