ACT Prep Timeline The SAT Crash Course

Studying for the ACT can seem like an overwhelming task, and it is. The key is to break the process into steps in order to make it more manageable. By taking each day at a time, you’ll save yourself a lot of unnecessary stress and sleepless nights.

The very first step is to create a study schedule. This schedule will give you a general guide of how your studying should pan out, making sure you know exactly what you should be doing at any given moment, ultimately maximizing your productivity. If you’re unsure of how to begin, here is a 3-month plan and a 1-month plan:

3 Month Plan

Week 1

  • Baseline score – Your top priority in the first week is to determine your baseline score. This initial score will be used to assess your progress. Make sure to mimic testing conditions as closely as you can, adhering to the time limits and being in a quiet environment. Remember, this score is for yourself, so make sure to get as honest of a score as possible.
  • Review first test – Once you have taken your first test, don’t just toss it aside and never look at it again. Make sure to mark your strong and weak points, such as a strength in the science section or room for improvement in the reading comprehension. It is a good idea to dedicate a notebook to your studying, as having a specific place for all of your data and practice will help you stay organized.
  • Take note of types of questions you got wrong – When reviewing your test, it is vital that you pay attention to patterns. Make sure to mark in your notebook the types of questions you most frequently miss, so that when you begin your studying, you know exactly where to begin and what areas you do not need to spend a lot of time on.

Week 2-4

  • Study foundational concepts that you struggle with – For the rest of the month, your goal should be to learn any of the basic concepts that you frequently miss. These should be concepts that show up often, such as quadratic equations or finding the area of a circle. Remember, this is your time to learn anything you need to actually learn, and not just brush up on.
  • Focus on one section at a time – Each week, you should especially concentrate on one section. Of course, you can go about this any way you’d like, but if you need ideas, try focusing on science (graphs and data representation), then math (functions), and then English (sentence structure and punctuation).

Week 5

  • Check-in practice test Take another mock test to assess the progress you have made. Again, make sure that you mimic testing conditions as closely as possible to give yourself an accurate representation of your progress. 
  • Review test After taking your second practice test, make sure to review all of the answers thoroughly. Please do not simply move on after taking the test, as reviewing what you got right and wrong is just as important, if not more important than taking the test itself.
  • Check progress Compare your results to your baseline score and assess whether or not you are improving in your focused skills. This is the time to figure out if your studying habits are productive and the best use of your time.
  • Take notes of types of questions you got wrong It is imperative that you keep a record of your most frequently missed questions. This will help you establish patterns and ultimately help you to be more cognisant of your strengths and weaknesses.

Week 6-8

  • Study concepts you’re continuing to struggle with – Take these next few weeks to continue your studying habits. If you have not been making as much progress as you’d like, take this time to reassess your studying methods and perhaps make a change.
  • Continue focusing on one section at a time – Again, take these weeks to continue working on one section at a time. Make sure to especially focus on the sections you are having the most trouble with.

Week 9:

  • Check-in practice test – Once again, this is your time to take a mock exam. This will be your second to last time, so make sure to mirror testing conditions as closely as possible. Also, if you have to make any modifications, such as getting a new calculator, now is the time to do so. 
  • Review test – As always, reviewing your answers is the most important step. Make sure to not rush this process, as taking your time to review will actually save time in later steps.
  • Check progress – Compare your statistics for this test to your previous exams, looking at each section individually. Be diligent and honest in determining if your studying habits are effective. 
  • Take notes of types of questions you got wrong – Continue recording the questions you answered incorrectly in your notebook. Oftentimes, the questions on the ACT are of the same format, simply mixed with different numbers. That is why it is imperative to keep a detailed record of the questions you got wrong. In addition, make sure to take the time to fully understand why you got a question wrong and how to get the correct answer. It is not enough to only understand that you answered a question wrong; you need to understand what led you to the wrong answer and how you could have answered correctly.
ACT Practice Exam
During the final weeks of your ACT prep, take mock exams to become familiar with the testing conditions.

Week 10-11:

  • Continue studying – Welcome to the homestretch of your studying. These next two weeks should be dedicated to studying any concepts you are still having trouble with. This is your time to wrap any loose ends and memorize any formulas you may need. Remember, this is crunch time, so make sure to study with maximum productivity. 

Week 12:

  • Take one last final practice test – This is your final mock exam, so take it under conditions as close to the real day as possible. Make sure you have all of your supplies, your testing ticket, ID, and anything else you may need. 
  • Review and check your progress – After you have completed your final test, take your time reviewing and finalizing your progress. Hopefully you can see some improvement from your baseline score. Remember, answering questions incorrectly is not the end of the world, as the goal is never to be perfect, but to show growth.
  • Then 3 days before the test, relax – Continue studying until 3 days before exam day, then close your books and relax. Please do not cram and attempt to stuff information in your head. Spend the rest of the week doing activities you enjoy, such as listening to music or watching a movie. 

1 Month Plan

This plan is considered the more intense version, as it requires more hours per week. This method is perfect for students who only have a short amount of time to prepare, but have cleared out their schedules to study.

Week 1

  • Baseline score – Your top priority in the first week is to determine your baseline score. This initial score will be used to assess your progress. Make sure to mimic testing conditions as closely as you can, adhering to the time limits and being in a quiet environment. Remember, this score is for yourself, so make sure to get as honest of a score as possible.
  • Review first test – Once you have taken your first test, don’t just toss it aside and never look at it again. Make sure to mark your strong and weak points, such as a strength in the science section or room for improvement in the reading comprehension. It is a good idea to dedicate a notebook to your studying, as having a specific place for all of your data and practice will help you stay organized.
  • Identify areas for improvement – When reviewing your test, it is vital that you pay attention to patterns. Make sure to mark in your notebook the types of questions you most frequently miss, so that when you begin your studying, you know exactly where to begin and what areas you do not need to spend a lot of time on.
  • Create a schedule of when you will tackle each area – After taking the first practice test, you should dedicate some time to creating a study schedule for each section. This schedule will guide you to what you should spend each day studying, so you don’t waste time pondering.
  • Start studying the area that needs the most attention – During the last few days of this week, begin studying the area of most concern. This area will require the most time and dedication, so make sure to give it the care it needs.

Week 2

  • Check-in practice test – Take another mock test to assess the progress you have made. Again, make sure that you mimic testing conditions as closely as possible to give yourself an accurate representation of your progress. 
  • Review test – After taking your second practice test, make sure to review all of the answers thoroughly. Please do not simply move on after taking the test, as reviewing what you got right and wrong is just as important, if not more important than taking the test itself.
  • Check progress Compare your results to your baseline score and assess whether or not you are improving in your focused skills. This is the time to figure out if your studying habits are productive and the best use of your time.
  • Take notes of types of questions you got wrong It is imperative that you keep a record of your most frequently missed questions. This will help you establish patterns and ultimately help you to be more cognisant of your strengths and weaknesses.

Week 3

  • Check-in practice test – Once again, this is your time to take a mock exam. This will be your second to last time, so make sure to mirror testing conditions as closely as possible. Also, if you have to make any modifications, such as getting a new calculator, now is the time to do so. 
  • Review test – As always, reviewing your answers is the most important step. Make sure to not rush this process, as taking your time to review will actually save time in later steps.
  • Check progress – Compare your statistics for this test to your previous exams, looking at each section individually. Be diligent and honest in determining if your studying habits are effective.
  • Take notes of types of questions you got wrong – Continue recording the questions you answered incorrectly in your notebook. Oftentimes, the questions on the ACT are of the same format, simply mixed with different numbers. That is why it is imperative to keep a detailed record of the questions you got wrong. In addition, make sure to take the time to fully understand why you got a question wrong and how to get the correct answer. It is not enough to only understand that you answered a question wrong; you need to understand what led you to the wrong answer and how you could have answered correctly.
  • Continue studying – This week should be dedicated to studying any concepts you are still having trouble with. This is your time to wrap any loose ends and memorize any formulas you may need. Remember, this is crunch time, so make sure to study with maximum productivity and make sure to study all the areas you are lacking in.

Week 4

  • Take one last final practice test – This is your final mock exam, so take it under conditions as close to the real day as possible. Make sure you have all of your supplies, your testing ticket, ID, and anything else you may need. 
  • Review and check your progress – After you have completed your final test, take your time reviewing and finalizing your progress. Hopefully you can see some improvement from your baseline score. Remember, answering questions incorrectly is not the end of the world, as the goal is never to be perfect, but to show growth.
  • Then 3 days before the test, relax – Continue studying until 3 days before exam day, then close your books and relax. Please do not cram and attempt to stuff information in your head. Spend the rest of the week doing activities you enjoy, such as listening to music or watching a movie. 

Preparing for the ACT is a huge feat, and should be treated as such. However, creating a study schedule will turn this overwhelming task into a much more manageable one and will ultimately make your studying more productive and effective. Best of luck on your studying endeavors!