ACT Study Plan: Strategizing For Success

Your ACT score can help you gain admission to prestigious universities and institutions, scholarships worth thousands of dollars, and recognition and chances that could change your life. Achieving a high score is much easier said than done, though. Even the best students find the ACT tough, with 215 difficult questions to answer in less than three hours. Those who wish to score highly on the test must be extensively prepared for it, investing many hours of study time. Having a strong ACT study plan will be a critical factor for setting you up for success.

ACT preparation is one of the most important things you have to do in high school. With enough effort and a good ACT score, you can get into the school of your dreams without going bankrupt or needing to take out student loans.

If you’re a student looking to get an exceptional ACT score that will help you stand out to scholarship boards and college admissions authorities, you need to start ACT preparation as soon as feasible. Theres much much more than just finishing a few practice tests and cracking open an ACT prep book to get ready for this standardized test. It requires hours of focused study and investigation.

It is therefore strongly advised that you create an ACT study strategy. With the use of an ACT study plan, you can determine the most productive and successful approaches to preparing for the test while avoiding being overly overwhelmed and still learning everything that will be covered. Making a schedule will also enable you to make the most of your time and utilize each and every week that you have between the start of your studies and the day of the test.

Why bother taking the ACT test?

Like the SAT, the ACT is a standardized test that many colleges consider when selecting which applicants to admit.

ACT scores are critical for college admissions since colleges and universities use them in their evaluation process to assess if a student has the academic skills required to succeed in their programs.

Certain students’ preferred methods of learning or more familiar courses may make the ACT more appropriate. For example, there is a Science section on the ACT but not on the SAT. Students’ scientific studies may lead them to assume that they are excellent ACT prospects.

Should one take the ACT or the SAT?

Why a student should take the ACT rather than the SAT really depends on their preferences and areas of strength.

The ACT often emphasizes topic knowledge and incorporates a science reasoning question, whereas the SAT tends to place more of an emphasis on critical thinking skills and has an optional essay section.

In order to determine which exam they will feel more comfortable taking and do better on, students must prepare for both and take practice exams. Ultimately, students want to take the test that best showcases their abilities and helps them achieve their goals of getting into college.

Identifying Your ACT Objectives

Make a list of at least five colleges you’d be pleased to attend, and then find out what the 25th and 75th percentile scores accepted by each school are. This is because your desired colleges should match your ACT score. Equipped with this knowledge, the first thing you should do is establish a goal ACT score so you can create a study strategy that will assist you in reaching that number. 

You need to know more clearly what your target score ought to be once you’ve filled in the chart with the pertinent scores. You have a higher chance of getting accepted into every school on your list if your score is equal to or higher than the highest figure in the 75th percentile column. Forming your ACT study plan around your objectives can be a great way to start.

When Is the Right Time to Begin ACT Studying? 

You need to decide when to begin ACT prep after you’ve established a goal score that will aid in your admission to the school of your choosing. When determining how long to study for the ACT, don’t forget to take these two things into account: Your score is the goal.

How many hours a week can you dedicate to practicing? 

To provide a baseline for your performance, take a practice exam if you don’t already have a diagnostic score. Your goal score can be attained by streamlining an efficient study strategy with the use of the data from your initial performance. 

Practice and familiarity with the style and content of the exam are beneficial, even for students who often perform highly on standardized exams. Many students discover that the ACT covers at least a few topics that they are unclear about how to approach. You could fill in any knowledge gaps prior to test day through studying for three months, taking approximately seven full-length practice exams, and throwing in at least seventy hours of untimed practice. However, strategic practice is essential, as is the utilization of practice materials that provide thorough justifications and cautious strategy development.


There are a few things you must do first in order to decide which of the three study plans is ideal for you:

Establish your desired ACT score.

It will be challenging for you to determine where you need to grow and whether you are moving in the right direction without a goal. Establish a goal score for yourself while you study before you pick up a practice exam or choose a study strategy.

Your objective must be meaningful. You should take into account the institutions on your list as well as any scholarships you may want to apply for in the future when determining your target score.

A lot of the automatic scholarships that colleges and universities award have some minor limitations regarding ACT scores. You should look into these scholarship requirements and use this information to figure out what kind of ACT score is needed.

Your ideal ACT score should take college admission into account as well. For every school on your list, you should strive for an ACT score that falls into the 75th percentile. This indicates that if you achieve this level of performance, you will have outperformed three-fourth of all admitted students at any college you are considering, greatly increasing your chances of being accepted.

The College Board website’s college search or each school’s website’s prospective applicant page are the best places to look up this percentile.

Establish your starting point score.

It’s time for you to find out how far you still have to go to achieve your desired score now that you have one in mind.

Calculate your composite score by adding up the points you receive in each of the four sections and dividing the total by four. Take the official ACT practice exam in the same settings as the real exam.

This will help you determine your areas of improvement and the amount of time you need to study for the test.

My one-month study schedule would work best for you if your improvement goal is just to go up one or two points. If you need to improve your score by three or six points, you might want to consider the three-month study plan. If you are more than six points off, my six-month study plan is definitely the best option for you to reach your goal.

Choose the best day for the test.

When selecting your study plan, you should consider not only how many points you need to achieve your desired score but also how much time you will have to study.

If you have one month to prepare for the test, even a six-month study schedule won’t help you achieve a good score.

You must therefore carefully consider your exam date options. Selecting a date for the test should allow you to have enough time to study and ensure that you have enough time to repeat it in the event that you do not receive the desired score on the first try.

It’s crucial that you select a date that works with your schedule. You might not have enough spare time in the fall to study for the fall ACT if football practice consumes all of your time.

You’ll be prepared to try out one of these three ACT study strategies when you’ve determined your baseline score, set a target score, and chosen the ideal test date:

A 30-Day ACT Study Plan

Week 1:

If you just have one month to study, you can still do well on the ACT; however, it will take a lot of effort and concentration to do so. This strategy, in contrast to the others I’ve published here, calls for you to dedicate roughly 10 hours per week to ACT preparation. So, you should start using this strategy when you have lots of spare time and minimal other obligations or distractions.

Week 2:

Review the material that will be looked at for ten to twelve hours per day. Review all of the punctuation and grammatical rules required for the English section. Get familiar with all the important formulas and algebraic ideas to do well on the ACT Math section. Review important formulas and algebraic ideas to do well on the ACT Math section. Practice answering questions similar to those found in the reading section of the ACT to help you prepare for the science section of the test. An additional alternative would be to practice reading charts, graphs, and tables. Reading tables, graphs, and charts can also be practiced.

Week 3:

Set aside about ten to twelve hours to review the strategies for each test section. See some pointers on answering ACT reading questions without reading the entire passage and avoiding overusing your calculator. Take one final practice test this week, record your score, and go over the ACT essay format.

Week 4:

Take ten to twelve hours to review every concept and topic you did not understand on the practice test the week before. To prepare for the essay, you want to utilize the ACT practice writing prompts.

Even though you won’t have much time to study for the ACT in a month, sticking to this schedule will help you improve your score and ensure that you’re ready on test day.

ACT Study Plan for Three Months

This three-month ACT study plan can be helpful if you need to improve your score by more than a few points and have a little extra time to study. You should anticipate studying for six to seven hours each week with this approach.

This is a summary of the study schedule.

First Month

Now is the ideal moment to become acquainted with the exam and begin studying useful test-taking techniques.

Week 1:

Spend six to seven hours taking an approved ACT practice test to find your starting score. Reconsider your errors and balance the advantages and disadvantages.


Invest six to seven hours in learning one of the ACT’s four sections (science, reading, math, and English) as well as its overall format. Discover the topics that will be addressed in this section, as well as some helpful tips for providing succinct and meaningful answers to the questions. If you concentrate on English, review the rules of grammar. Find out which passage reading technique works best for you if you begin with reading. If math is your major, learn how to use a few important formulas. Learn about science first before attempting to interpret tables, charts, and graphs.

Week 3:

Review the reading, math, science, and English portions of the exam for six to seven hours in the third week.

Week 4:

Take six to seven hours to go over the material from two weeks prior. You can evaluate your methods and identify your weak points by putting your question-answering techniques into practice.

Second Month

Now is the time to be ready for the next two ACT sections.

Week 1:

Devote six to seven hours to reviewing test-taking strategies and content that will be presented in one of the two remaining parts.

Week 2:

Devote six to seven hours to understanding the content and techniques required to pass the last segment of the test.

Week 3:

Review the material you have studied over the last two weeks over the course of six to seven days.

Week 4:

Spend seven to eight hours taking another Official ACT Practice Test, and be careful to review all of your mistakes.

Third Month

You should go over every idea you have learned this month to ensure you are prepared for the test.

Week 1:

Set aside five to six hours to study for the ACT’s reading and English components.

Week 2:

Set aside five to six hours to study for the ACT’s science and math portions.

Week 3:

Set aside six to seven hours to complete the final official ACT practice test and grade your responses. And if you are taking the writing portion of the test, this week is also the time to familiarize yourself with the format of the ACT essay. Practice writing techniques using essay prompts.

Week 4:

Set aside five to six hours to go over your previous practice exam and make sure you know how to fix any errors you may have made.

This approach can help you improve your ACT score by more than a point or two, and it’s a terrific way to make the most of a light semester or summer break.

ACT Study Plan For Six Months

This study schedule is great if you have plenty of time to be ready for the test and don’t want to study too much. In case you want to improve your score by six or more points, the six-month ACT study plan is also highly recommended.

First Month

Now is the ideal moment to gradually introduce yourself to studying by familiarizing yourself with the ACT structure and picking up some essential study techniques that will help you on test day. 

Week 1: To determine your beginning score, take an official ACT practice test for at least six hours. Make sure you go over all of your mistakes so you can decide which areas you should focus on over the next few months.

Week 2: During week two, dedicate four to six hours to acquaint yourself with the general format of the ACT and one of its constituent subjects (science, reading, math, or English). Don’t forget to schedule time for expanding your vocabulary.

Week 3: Spend four to six hours familiarizing yourself with the format of the two supplementary test components (English, Science, Reading, or Math).

Week 4: Invest four to six hours in studying the Reading, Math, Science, or English format of the final test component.

Second Month

Now is the time to thoroughly examine the information in each area.

Week 1: Set aside five to six hours to study the subjects that will be covered in the ACT Math section. To improve your algebra and geometry skills, start learning key arithmetic formulas by heart.

Week 2: Spend five to six hours reading information pertaining to English. Reviewing grammatical skills like subject-verb agreement should go hand in hand with punctuation rules like comma splices.

Week 3: Take five to six hours to make sure you understand the material that was covered in both math and English in weeks one and two.

Week 4: Spend five to six hours in the fourth week taking an official ACT practice test. Don’t forget to review your results!

Third Month

You will do better on the reading, science, math, and English sections of the ACT this month if you take advantage of the great opportunity to practice and learn numerous strategies for each subject area.

Week 1: Allocate five to six hours to finish the ACT’s reading section. Choose the best technique for skimming or reading parts and eliminating potential responses. Try answering some practice ACT questions to see which strategies suit you the best. 

Week 2: Set up six hours to practice the math portion of the ACT. This is the perfect opportunity to create flashcards and write down any important formulas you haven’t yet learned. Find out which arithmetic techniques will help you most on the test. Practice questions will help you determine which questions require the use of a calculator and which ones you can do quickly without one.

Week 3: Allocate six hours in the third week to finish the ACT science section. It takes expertise to extract more information from graphs, charts, and tables and analyze data from them.

Week 4: Complete a second official ACT practice test. After you finish, go over your answers to see which strategies you should try again. This should take six to eight hours to complete.

Fourth Month 

Reviewing should be the focus of this month. You’ll be stuck repeating your errors on test day if you don’t go over your faults again. This is one of the most crucial aspects of your study plan, so this week, make sure you dedicate additional time to your ACT preparation.

Week 1: Should you choose to take the optional ACT essay, set aside five to six hours to study the composition section format and high essay scoring tactics.

Week 2: Use your practice test scores to guide your six- to seven-hour review of the ACT’s math and science parts. Focus on the areas you need to improve the most.

Week 3: Review the English and Reading sections of the ACT for six to seven hours, using the results of your practice tests.

Week 4: Set aside six to seven hours to study the four areas of the ACT Essay.

Fifth Month

This month, you will dedicate time to looking over practice questions and reviewing each section of the ACT.

Week 1: Spend six to seven hours reviewing one section of the ACT and the strategies you plan to use for it.

Week 2: Spend six to seven hours reviewing a different section of the ACT and the strategies you choose to use. Focus on the areas you need to improve the most.

Week 3: Spend six to seven hours reviewing a new section of the ACT and the strategies you’ll employ.

Week 4: Spend six to seven hours reviewing the remaining sections of the ACT and the strategies you want to use.

Sixth Month

Make sure you have studied for the last four weeks of this final month to ensure you have covered all of your test-related deficiencies.

Week 1: Spend an additional five to six hours taking an official ACT practice exam. Make sure to review your answers.

Week 2: During the second week, dedicate six to seven hours to reviewing two ACT sections and gaining confidence in addressing diverse essay subjects.

Week 3: Review the previous two ACT sections for six to seven hours and practice answering different essay topics. This week, if you have time, I would advise you to take one more practice test.

Week 4: Spend four to five hours going over every single idea that will be on the ACT, paying particular attention to the ones that threw you off on the last practice exam.

While it may seem overwhelming to take things one week at a time, this six-month schedule is a practical and efficient way to prepare for the ACT.

Using one of these tools can help you maximize the time you have to study for the ACT, regardless of how much time you have available. This will give you confidence going into the exam to increase your score and increase your chances of getting into the college of your choice.

To increase your chances of scoring the score you want, it is advised that you join up for one of our ACT prep courses or have a one-on-one consultation with a Prep Expert ACT instructor. While having an ACT study plan may be a great place to start, working with experienced teachers will help you pinpoint your areas of weakness, address them, and design a range of strategies to help you improve your ACT score.

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