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When you pick up an ACT study guide from the library or bookstore, or start searching for one online, you’re quickly going to find huge amounts of information at your fingertips. While this is incredibly useful to help you study (you’ll have everything you need to know), how are you supposed to keep track of all the information in front of you?
Learning how to properly use an ACT study guide can help you minimize wasted study time and get the most out of the materials so that you are well prepared for test time. While applying these suggestions may differ according to the guide’s format (online vs. print), you’ll learn how to organize all that the study guides can offer, which will make studying far easier.
An ACT Study Guide Is Not a Practice Test
First of all, it’s important to note that you can’t approach an ACT study guide as if it was a practice test. Each teaches you how to test in a different (but beneficial) way.
A study guide is going to give you the information about how the test is going to work and tips and tricks for making sure you succeed. For example, a good ACT study guide will teach you how to eliminate incorrect answers on questions you’re not 100% sure on, raising your chances of getting the final answer right.
An ACT practice test will show you the actual format of the test, how much time it takes to finish each section, and the types of questions you’ll be presented with on test day.
Using the Two Together
You can get the most out of your study times when you use an ACT study guide and practice test together.
Start by taking a practice test to see how well you can do without knowing how it’s going to work beforehand. Though this may seem counterintuitive, taking a practice test first will help you identify where your strengths and weaknesses lie, which means you can focus on only these when you turn to your ACT study guide.
When you use your study guide next, you can focus on the types of questions you had the most trouble with or the sections you weren’t sure about. Take another practice test with your guide next to you this time, so you can go back and forth and really hone in on the areas you need to focus on.
Normally, taking practice tests while studying with your ACT study guide helps you apply what you’re learning instead of just reading over it. And this can help you learn the testing structure far more quickly than scanning a text and then hoping you remember it for test day.
A lot of times, students expect to just open up a study guide, read through its contents, and be ready to go. But this is not the best way to prepare for the ACT, as application has a big impact on how well you retain information and therefore how well you test.
So make sure you understand that an ACT study guide is only one side of the same coin; putting it together with a practice test will help you succeed on the real thing.
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