Studying Your Practice Test
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 question wrong:
  • 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 guessed wrong.
  • Reason 3: You knew the answer but made a careless mistake.
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 Knowledge
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 Wrong
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.
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