Your ACT score is based on how many questions you answer correctly in each of the four graded sections. Unlike the SAT, the ACT does not deduct any points for wrong answers, so it benefits you to answer as many questions as possible.
Here’s the key to improving your ACT score: answering everything doesn’t mean you have to attempt every question. Accuracy is essential.
Some students make the mistake of attempting every question. This only makes sense if you are already an exceptional test taker scoring in the top 90%. If you are trying to earn a 28 or higher on any section, go ahead and work every question; you’ve already proven your ability to dominate the test.
Most students who attempt all questions end up rushing to finish and making careless mistakes along the way. In their hurry to complete every question, their overall accuracy is diminished. You will do better to focus on accuracy which means you will probably have a number of questions that you either don’t know how to do or do not have time to finish.
I’m suggesting you slow down and focus on your target. Take time to spot each question, line up your sights, and attack. You become the sniper picking off ACT questions for points. Most students use a buckshot method. They hurry through the test shooting at every question in desperation to hit points. They get some, but miss more because they never take the extra few seconds to line up a shot.
Slow down and strive to get all the questions you answer right. You may be able to complete four of the five English passages (60 of 75 questions), 45 of 60 math questions, three of the four reading passages (30 of 40 questions), or six of seven science passages (35 of 40 questions) with this type of focused accuracy. Now you are earning more points than you ever did before.
But what about the questions you don’t complete? Aren’t these wasted points? (Here’s where this strategy is exceptional.) For any question you don’t do, fill in your “letter of the day.” Pick a letter A, B, C, or D that you will use for every question for the entire test. (Only math has five answer choices, so E isn’t a good choice.) If you pick one letter and stick with it for the entire test, you will get some of your guesses right, statistically, 1 in every 4.
There is no better letter. Pick your favorite and bubble straight down the line for every question you don’t know how to solve or don’t have time to work. If you used different letters for each guess, you could get them all wrong. You won’t get all of your “Letter of the Day” guesses right, but with four answers to choose from, you are bound to get some additional points.
Before you take the actual test, get a free, full-length practice test from your school counselor. Take the practice test timed and evaluate your results.
So now you are earning more points by targeting the questions you can focus on and solve correctly and for every hard question you don’t have time to attempt, you have a 1 in 4 chance of getting it right by guessing. This is the single best strategy to improve your ACT score no matter what subject you are attempting.