Pillar VI: Don’t Get Intimidated

Words of “Wiz-dom”—You can’t allow yourself to get intimidated by the test. The more in control you feel, the better your score will be. Keep in mind that there is no guessing penalty, and you don’t need to get them all right to get a decent score. All the techniques you’ll be learning during the next several weeks plus practicing themwill help you get comfortable and confident.

You’ll be seeing questions on the ACT that are variations of what you’re going to see in the coming lessons. There are not an endless variety of questions. The same questions tend to show up over and over with different details. There is an effective way to deal with each of the question types and you’re going to learn them. Just keep in mind that you need to practice until you’re comfortable with each one.

Think of this practice as if it is learning basketball skills. As a player, you’d need to practice lay-ups, free throws and 3-pointers, not to mention dribbling and passing. Each of these skills is essential in the game and requires practice. Test taking requires different skills, each necessitating practice. The more skills you practice, the better your test score will be.


English, no doubt, is a difficult language. To help you out, the grammar rules in the English Lesson will highlight what the ACT test writer expects you to know. We’ll cover some test-taking strategies that your English teacher probably didn’t teach you that also will help you think like the test writer. Thinking in this new way is going to raise your English test score.


Here are three great strategies to use when the question looks intimidating. First, using small numbers, find the pattern and then apply it to the intimidating numbers in the problem. Second, when given a complicated formula involving multiple variables, solve the problem using small integers and then see which answer is equivalent to the numbers you used. Third, set up the problem so that the units (labels, e.g., miles/hour) come out correctly and then do the math. Here are some questions to try using each strategy.

1. What is the remainder when 2215is divided by 10?A. 2
B. 3
C. 4
D. 6
E. 8

Answer to question #1

2. In the formula how much would p change if the values for all other variables were doubled?A. decrease by 2 times
B. stay the same
C. increase by 2 times
D. increase by 4 times
E. increase by 8 times

Answer to question #2

3. Traci can rollerblade around the block x times in y minutes. How many times can she go around the block in z minutes?(A)




Answer to question #3


If you find reading tests intimidating, then try these two strategies which will help make the test less daunting (a good word to know).

The four reading passages are rarely the kind of thing you’d choose to read on a Saturday morning! The first one will be “Prose Fiction” followed by “Social Science,” “Humanities,” and “Natural Science” in that order. If you find prose a little tough to deal with the first thing on Saturday or even if you normally like prose but this passage is intimidating, skip it. Try one of the others. If you prefer reading humanities to other topics, go ahead and skip to the third passage.

Now that you’ve picked a passage, do the “triple take.” First, go through and answer all the questions that are easy while skipping the more difficult ones. Second, go back and do the ones that will take more time. Third, don’t leave any blanks so go through one last time and guess at every blank. Then you’ve completed the “triple take!” Now you are ready to go on to the next passage you want to do.

Science Reasoning:

Attacking the science passages requires the same approach that you used for the Reading Test. There are seven passages that have a total of 40 questions. There are three different passage types and several fields of science will be included.

Like the Reading Test, there aren’t any rules about which one you have to do first. Maybe one passage type is easier for you than another. Maybe you prefer biology to astronomy. Do the passages in the order YOU choose. Start with the ones that are easier and more interesting to raise your confidence and reduce stress.

Once you’ve chosen a passage to attack, be sure to do the “triple take.” Take the easier questions first and skip the more difficult ones and come back to them. After finishing all the questions on the passage (making sure there are no blanks), pick another passage.

The more in control you feel, the less stress and more confidence you will experience. So be sure that “You take the ACT. Don’t let it take you!”

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