ACT STUDY PLAN

 

When you’re figuring out how to study for the ACT, the best thing to first nail down is your ACT study plan. This ACT study plan defines the length of time you will be studying for, what you will be studying and when, as well as some general tips for preparing that will allow you to walk into test day completely prepared. We’ve put together some ideas on how to study for the ACT with three different ACT study plans, catering to your schedule of either one, two, or three months. If you would like to know how to study for the ACT in just 4 to 12 weeks, then read on as we discuss the best ACT study plans:

 

Don’t forget your prep materials! Check out the best ACT prep books on the market today!

1-Month ACT Study Plan

One month to study for the ACT can be intense, so we don’t really recommend this short of a prep schedule unless absolutely necessary. However, because we understand life can get in the way, it’s still critical for you to get in-the-know about how to study for the ACT in under 4 weeks. You will need to roll up your sleeves because you will be getting through a ton of content in a pretty short amount of time.

 

Time Commitment:

To be effectively prepared for the ACT in just one month, you will need to plan on devoting at least 12-15 hours per week on prep materials. This can be broken up however your schedule allows, but we recommend being able to get in a solid 2 to 3 hours of consecutive study on study days. Here is a potential schedule:

 

Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday: 2.5 hours study

Sunday: 3 hours study

 

More than likely you will be able to clear some weekend time to study. This, of course, takes much more discipline and you must hold yourself accountable for those hours you plan on putting in on Saturday and Sunday.

 

This one-month ACT study plan is only ~60 hours. You can only expect to improve your ACT score by up to 4 points in this timeframe.

 

Week 1:

  1. Set a goal score: Your goal score should be in the 75th percentile of those admitted to the college or university that you wish to apply (1 hour)
  2. Find your baseline score: Your baseline score is what score you can receive on the ACT right now without doing any prep work. This requires taking a diagnostic test, simulating ACT test day conditions – taking an official ACT test in a quiet space, timing yourself appropriately for each section, and only taking breaks during official break time. To calculate your score, you will need to calculate your scaled composite score (3 hours)
  3. Calculate how much higher your ACT score needs to become: You should be shooting for an ACT score that will land you in the top 75th percentile of those admitted into the schools you wish to apply. Keep in mind that if you wish to improve your score over 4 points from your baseline score, you will need more time than just this one month of study (1 hour)
  4. Work through diagnostic test questions: Go through all the questions on your diagnostic test and see which ones you got wrong. You can find patterns on types of questions you are getting incorrect and begin modifying your study plan to improve these weak areas (3 hours)
  5. Review the format of the ACT: You should go through what each section of the ACT is going to test you on, how to methodically solve questions, as well as how you will be scored (3 hours)
  6. Begin working through English: Begin working through the English format, learn what concepts you will be tested on as well as what you will need to know for Grammar and the Passages (1 hour)
  7. Study English Grammar Topics: This is your time to actually learn the rules of grammar and how to answer the questions the ACT will ask you in terms of grammar and punctuation (2 hours)

 

Week 2:

  1. Begin working through Reading: Begin working through the Reading format, learn what kinds of passages you will see, what the questions tend to ask, and how to improve timing (1 hour)
  2. Practice your Reading strategy: When going through Reading passages, you should read the questions first then skim the passage. This helps you to find answers more quickly as well as saves you on time, since changing your reading pace in just 4 weeks would be pretty difficult (2 hours)
  3. Use the ACT Flashcards for reading: The flashcards in our toolkit cover Reading strategies and ways to determine correct answers (1 hour)
  4. Memorize ACT vocab: You can’t study all the words tested on the ACT, but there are some common vocabulary words you should expect to be tested on. Start with this list of 150 ACT vocab words from PrepScholar. Consider making flashcards and bringing these around with you over the course of the week (2 hours)
  5. Begin Math Basics: Just as before with English and Reading, you need to go through what’s expected of you on the Math portion of the ACT. Review the concepts tested on so that you have a good idea of what you will need to practice moving forwards (1 hour)
  6. Practice Math Concepts: Integers, fractions, and proportions are some of the toughest areas for students. You can practice through questions utilizing a formulas cheat sheet (1 hour)
  7. Memorize Math formulas: It’s time to memorize the formulas that you will come across on the ACT (1 hour)
  8. Algebra Review: Algebra class may have felt like years ago, so it’s important to brush up on the algebra concepts including the following: word problems, functions, operations, systems of equations, and single-variable equations (2 hours)
  9. Geometry Review: Geometry can account for up to 45% of the ACT Math section, meaning it should NOT be overlooked. You will need to have the following concepts down pat: lines & slopes, reflections, translations, & rotations, lines & angles, polygons, circles, triangles, and solid geometry (2 hours)
  10. Trigonometry Review: You will only see about 4 to 6 questions (7%) on the ACT Math section, but does warrant review if you are aiming on being a top scorer (1 hour)

 

Week 3:

  1. Begin working through Science: Run through the Science section format and what to expect (1 hour)
  2. Practice Science passage strategy: Use science practice questions to first read the questions then skimming the passage (2 hours)
  3. Brush up on Science concepts: The ACT Science section doesn’t necessarily test you directly on specialized knowledge, but a certain amount of bio, chem, math, and physics will be helpful (1.5 hours)
  4. Take an official ACT practice test: Take the ACT test in simulated testing conditions (3.5 hours)
  5. Calculate progress: Scale your scores and see what improvement you have made since your baseline score (30 minutes)
  6. Go through ACT practice test answers: This is important to learn from the mistakes you still may be making and home in on those concepts moving forward into your last week and a half of studying (3 hours)
  7. Review strategies for all sections: Practice how to eliminate incorrect answers, plugging in answers for the Math and Science Sections, as well as how to read tables and charts (4 hours)

 

Week 4:

  1. Take a third ACT practice test: Just as before, run through an official ACT practice test as if you are taking the real ACT (3.5 hours)
  2. Score your ACT and look for where to review: Score and scale your ACT score and see which areas you still need to work on (30 minutes)
  3. Go through questions you missed and understand why: This is critical for improving your test-taking ability. Go through the answers and comprehend why that answer is correct (1 hour)
  4. Drill yourself on the weak areas of your last test: Go back and review concepts that you missed on your third practice test. Test out the strategies you may have failed to use so that you can do this right on the next real ACT test (4 hours)
  5. Review with your flashcards: You don’t want to get too stressed out on your last week before taking the ACT, so the rest of the week can be going through concepts and just getting confident in your understanding of what the ACT asks for and how to answer questions (4 hours)
  6. Take the day off before the test: It’s almost time to celebrate. Enjoy the day off and get your mind off testing.

Two-Month ACT Study Plan

 

A two-month ACT study plan can be a bit more digestible for those who are not trying to study 15 hours a week. This 2-month ACT study plan can be worked into nearly anybody’s schedule, as it only requires 6-7 study hours per week for a total of 80 hours of study. This is a pretty moderate study plan, and, as always, you can feel free to study more or less as needed, but consider this a rough guide on how to do well on the ACT with 2 months of total prep.

 

Time Commitment:

For this two-month ACT study plan, you will need to plan on devoting at least 6-7 hours preparing for the ACT per week. We recommend study periods of up to 2 hours at a time, totaling 3 days per week.

 

Monday, Wednesday, Friday: 2-3 hours

 

This one-month ACT study plan is ~80 hours. You can expect to improve your ACT score by 4-6 points in this timeframe!

 

Week 1:

  1. Set a goal score: Your goal score should be in the 75th percentile of those admitted to the college or university that you wish to apply (1 hour)
  2. Find your baseline score: Your baseline score is what score you can receive on the ACT right now without doing any prep work. This requires taking a diagnostic test, simulating ACT test day conditions – taking an official ACT test in a quiet space, timing yourself appropriately for each section, and only taking breaks during official break time. To calculate your score, you will need to calculate your scaled composite score (3 hours)
  3. Analyze results of test: Your baseline score is the composite scaled score you calculated. Take some time to go through your test and see where you are missing questions (1-2 hours) 
  4. Calculate how much higher your ACT score needs to become: You should aim for an ACT score that lands you in the top 75th percentile of those admitted into the schools you wish to apply. Keep in mind that if you wish to improve your score over 6 points from your baseline score, you will likely need more time than just these 2 months of study (30 minutes)

 

Week 2:

  1. Understand the ACT format: Spend an hour reading up on what the formatting of the ACT is and what sections to expect and how scoring works (1 hour)
  2. Begin English Section: Go through what the ACT English section is about and begin working through passages (1.5 hours)
  3. Study ACT Grammar and Punctuation: This part you should not skip for the ACT English. Read up on the rules that will be tested in both grammar and punctuation and practice questions and analyze results (2.5 hours)
  4. Practice your Reading strategy: When going through Reading passages, you should read the questions first then skim the passage. This helps you to find answers more quickly as well as saves you on time, since changing your reading pace in just 8 weeks would be pretty difficult (2 hours)

 

Week 3:

  1. Learn the Reading format: The Reading section differs from the English, and you should read what the Reading section is going to test you on and what kinds of passages to expect (3 hours)
  2. Choose a reading strategy: There are various strategies to tackling the ACT Reading passages. Many students prefer to read the questions first, then skim through the passage looking for quick and easy answers. This is all up to your preference and there is a reading strategy that works for everyone. Begin practicing this reading strategy over the course of the next 2 days (4 hours)

 

Week 4:

  1. Use the ACT Flashcards for reading: The flashcards in our toolkit cover Reading strategies and ways to determine correct answers (1 hour)
  2. Memorize ACT vocab: You can’t study all the words tested on the ACT, but there are some common vocabulary words you should expect to be tested on. Start with this list of 150 ACT vocab words from PrepScholar. Consider making flashcards and bringing these around with you over the course of the week (2 hours)
  3. Practice ACT English and Reading Questions: Start working through official and unofficial ACT English and Reading questions. Don’t forget to go through the answer and understand what you are getting incorrect and why (3 hours)
  4. Go back and study any gaps in English and Reading: If you are consistently answering something incorrectly or don’t feel confident on specific questions, use this time to go back and study up on these concepts (1 hour)

 

Week 5:

  1. Begin learning Math format: It’s time to switch into Math mode and go through the math section content, learn what is being tested, and have an understanding of what you will need to focus on (1 hour)
  2. Practice Math Concepts: Integers, fractions, and proportions are some of the toughest areas for students. You can practice through questions utilizing a formulas cheat sheet (1 hour)
  3. Memorize Math formulas: It’s time to memorize the formulas that you will come across on the ACT (1 hour)
  4. Algebra Review: Algebra class may have felt like years ago, so it’s important to brush up on the algebra concepts including the following: word problems, functions, operations, systems of equations, and single-variable equations (2 hours)
  5. Geometry Review: Geometry can account for up to 45% of the ACT Math section, meaning it should NOT be overlooked. You will need to have the following concepts down pat: lines & slopes, reflections, translations, & rotations, lines & angles, polygons, circles, triangles, and solid geometry (2 hours)

 

Week 6:

  1. Trigonometry Review: You will only see about 4 to 6 questions (7%) on the ACT Math section, but does warrant review if you are aiming on being a top scorer (2 hours)
  2. Practice on official or quality unofficial math problems: This is your time to work through questions and utilize strategies to get the correct answer. Be sure to understand when you get the incorrect answer and why (2 hours)
  3. Begin working through Science: Run through the Science section format and what to expect (1 hour)
  4. Practice Science passage strategy: Use science practice questions to first read the questions then skimming the passage (2 hours)
  5. Brush up on Science Concepts: The ACT Science section doesn’t necessarily test you directly on specialized knowledge, but a certain amount of bio, chem, math, and physics will be helpful (1.5 hours)
  6. Take an official ACT practice test: Take the ACT test in simulated testing conditions (3.5 hours)

 

Week 7:

  1. Analyze results of ACT practice test: Go through the answers of your ACT practice test and take note of weak areas to continue practicing! (1.5 hours)
  2. Learn Science and Math answer strategies: For example, plugging in numbers or answers as well as charts and tables you will need to learn for Science (2 hours)
  3. Practice these strategies on official or high quality unofficial Science and Math sections (2 hours)
  4. Learn the Writing section: Read what is expected on the ACT writing (30 minutes)

 

Week 8:

  1. Take your final ACT practice test: Take the ACT test in simulated testing conditions (3.5 hours)
  2. Analyze results of ACT practice test: Go through the answers of your ACT practice test and make any final adjustments to last-minute study material (1 hour)
  3. Practice writing an ACT Essay prompt: Go through the format and try writing an ACT essay, if you plan to take it (1 hour)
  4. Study concepts and last-minute materials:  Go through ACT vocab, math formulas, and any other material that you need to continue working on (2-3 hours)

Popular ACT Prep with a 2-Month ACT Study Plan

Magoosh 3 Month ACT Study Plan

Prep Expert 6-week Flagship

Three-Month ACT Study Plan

This three month ACT study plan can be intense, but if you plan on studying for 3 months for the ACT, then it’s fair to say you are already up for the task. We’re going to share with you a 3-month ACT study plan that will get you the ACT score you deserve.

 

Time Commitment:

To be effectively prepared for the ACT in just one month with this ACT study plan, you will need to plan on devoting at least 12-15 hours per week on prep materials. This can be broken up however your schedule allows, but we recommend being about to at least get in 2 to 3 hours at a time on study days. Here is a potential schedule:

 

Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday: 2.5 hours study

Sunday: 3 hours study

 

More than likely you will be able to clear some weekend time to study to fit the hours in for this 3-month ACT study plan. This, of course, takes much more discipline and you must hold yourself accountable for those hours you plan on putting in on Saturday and Sunday.

 

This 3-month ACT study plan totals 150 hours. You can expect to improve your ACT score by up to 9 points in this timeframe.

 

Week 1:

  1. Set a goal score: Your goal score should be in the 75th percentile of those admitted to the college or university that you wish to apply (1 hour)
  2. Find your baseline score: Your baseline score is what score you can receive on the ACT right now without doing any prep work. This requires taking a diagnostic test, simulating ACT test day conditions – taking an official ACT test in a quiet space, timing yourself appropriately for each section, and only taking breaks during official break time. To calculate your score, you will need to calculate your scaled composite score (3 hours)
  3. Analyze results of test: Your baseline score is the composite scaled score you calculated. Take some time to go through your test and see where you are missing questions (1 hour) 
  4. Calculate how much higher your ACT score needs to become: You should aim for an ACT score that lands you in the top 75th percentile of those admitted into the schools you wish to apply. Keep in mind that if you wish to improve your score over 6 points from your baseline score, you will likely need more time than just these 2 months of study (30 minutes)
  5. Understand the ACT format: Spend an hour reading up on what the formatting of the ACT is and what sections to expect and how scoring works (1 hour)
  6. Begin English Section: Go through what the ACT English section is about and begin working through passages (1.5 hours)
  7. Study ACT Grammar and Punctuation: This part you should not skip for the ACT English. Read up on the rules that will be tested in both grammar and punctuation and practice questions and analyze results (2.5 hours)
  8. Practice your Reading strategy: When going through Reading passages, you should read the questions first then skim the passage. This helps you to find answers more quickly as well as saves you on time, since changing your reading pace in just 8 weeks would be pretty difficult (2 hours)

 

Week 2:

  1. Learn the Reading format: The Reading section differs from the English, and you should read what the Reading section is going to test you on and what kinds of passages to expect (3 hours)
  2. Choose a reading strategy: There are various strategies to tackling the ACT Reading passages. Many students prefer to read the questions first, then skim through the passage looking for quick and easy answers. This is all up to your preference and there is a reading strategy that works for everyone. Begin practicing this reading strategy over the course of the next 2 days (4 hours)
  3. Use the ACT Flashcards for reading: The flashcards in our toolkit cover Reading strategies and ways to determine correct answers (1 hour)
  4. Memorize ACT vocab: You can’t study all the words tested on the ACT, but there are some common vocabulary words you should expect to be tested on. Start with this list of 150 ACT vocab words from PrepScholar. Consider making flashcards and bringing these around with you over the course of the week (2 hours)
  5. Practice ACT English and Reading Questions: Start working through official and unofficial ACT English and Reading questions. Don’t forget to go through the answer and understand what you are getting incorrect and why (3 hours)
  6. Go back and study any gaps in English and Reading: If you are consistently answering something incorrectly or don’t feel confident on specific questions, use this time to go back and study up on these concepts (1 hour)

 

Week 3:

  1. Begin learning Math format: It’s time to switch into Math mode and go through the math section content, learn what is being tested, and have an understanding of what you will need to focus on (1 hour)
  2. Practice Math Concepts: Integers, fractions, and proportions are some of the toughest areas for students. You can practice through questions utilizing a formulas cheat sheet (1 hour)
  3. Memorize Math formulas: It’s time to memorize the formulas that you will come across on the ACT (1 hour)
  4. Algebra Review: Algebra class may have felt like years ago, so it’s important to brush up on the algebra concepts including the following: word problems, functions, operations, systems of equations, and single-variable equations (2 hours)
  5. Geometry Review: Geometry can account for up to 45% of the ACT Math section, meaning it should NOT be overlooked. You will need to have the following concepts down pat: lines & slopes, reflections, translations, & rotations, lines & angles, polygons, circles, triangles, and solid geometry (2 hours)
  6. Trigonometry Review: You will only see about 4 to 6 questions (7%) on the ACT Math section, but does warrant review if you are aiming on being a top scorer (2 hours)
  7. Practice on official or quality unofficial math problems: This is your time to work through questions and utilize strategies to get the correct answer. Be sure to understand when you get the incorrect answer and why (2 hours)
  8. Begin working through Science: Run through the Science section format and what to expect (1 hour)
  9. Practice Science passage strategy: Use science practice questions to first read the questions then skimming the passage (2 hours)
  10. Brush up on Science Concepts: The ACT Science section doesn’t necessarily test you directly on specialized knowledge, but a certain amount of bio, chem, math, and physics will be helpful (1.5 hours)

 

Week 4:

  1. Take an official ACT practice test: Take the ACT test in simulated testing conditions (3.5 hours)
  2. Analyze results of ACT practice test: go through the answers of your ACT practice test and take note of weak areas to continue practicing! (1.5 hours)
  3. Learn Science and Math answer strategies: For example, plugging in numbers or answers as well as charts and tables you will need to learn for Science (2 hours)
  4. Practice Math and Science strategies: On official or high quality unofficial Science and Math sections (4 hours)

 

Week 5:

  1. Practice weak areas of English section: From previous practice test (3 hours)
  2. Practice weak areas of Science section: From previous practice test (3 hours)
  3. Practice weak areas of Reading section: From previous practice test (3 hours)
  4. Practice weak areas of Math section: From previous practice test (3 hours)

 

Week 6:

  1. Study the ACT Writing format: Read through various writing prompts and understand what is asked for in the optional writing section (2 hours)
  2. Choose a writing format or template: Practice writing with a format so that you can plug and chug any prompt into an essay template (1 hour)
  3. Begin writing timed essays: Write full essays in timed responses (4 hours)
  4. Review and practice questions: from each section (6 hours)

 

Week 7:

  1. Take another official ACT Practice test: Take the ACT test in simulated testing conditions (3.5 hours)
  2. Analyze results of ACT practice test: go through the answers of your ACT practice test and take note of weak areas (1.5 hours)
  3. Focus on the sections and questions you’re still struggling with: on the practice test (6 hours)

 

Week 8:

  1. Review Math and Science: topics and practice questions (6 hours)
  2. Review English and Reading: topics and practice questions (6 hours)

 

Week 9:

  1. Take another official ACT Practice test: Take the ACT test in simulated testing conditions (3.5 hours)
  2. Analyze results of ACT practice test: go through the answers of your ACT practice test and take note of weak areas (1.5 hours)
  3. Focus on the sections and questions you’re still struggling with: on the practice test (6 hours)

 

Week 10:

  1. Practice weak areas of English section: from previous practice test (3 hours)
  2. Practice weak areas of Science section: from previous practice test (3 hours)
  3. Practice weak areas of Reading section: from previous practice test (3 hours)
  4. Practice weak areas of Math section: from previous practice test (3 hours)

 

Week 11:

  1. Take another official ACT Practice test: Take the ACT test in simulated testing conditions (3.5 hours)
  2. Analyze results of ACT practice test: go through the answers of your ACT practice test and take note of weak areas (1.5 hours)
  3. Focus on the sections and questions you’re still struggling with: on the practice test (6 hours)

 

Week 12:

  1. Take a break this week with light prep and last-minute reviews (6-7 hours)
  2. Don’t study the day before the test!

Popular ACT Prep with a 3-Month ACT Study Plan

Magoosh 3 Month ACT Study Plan

What did you think about this one-month, two-month, and 3-month ACT study plan? Any other tools or resources you think should be added to our ACT study plan? Let us know by commenting below!