How To Earn A Good ACT Score

If you plan to go to college, then you’ll most likely have to take the ACT exam.

The purpose of this post is to provide you with practical ACT test day tips, guaranteed to help you earn a good act score. It will be broken down into 3 sections:

  • General ACT Tips
  • ACT Writing Tips
  • ACT Multiple Choice Tips

Ready?  Let’s get started…

How To Earn A Good ACT Score

  • General ACT Tips

1. Read the directions on the cover of the test booklet and at the beginning of each test carefully. I know that this may seem like a no brainer, but with all of the build up and anxiety, it can sometimes be easy for students to breeze over or misinterpret the test instructions, which could potentially lead to a not so good ACT score.

2. To earn a good ACT score, you must pace yourself. If you read a question and you have no clue what the answer is, don’t panic!  Skip the question and come back to it later.  You don’t want to spend too much time on any one question.  Answer the easy questions first, and come back to the harder ones later if you have time.

3. Pay attention to the 5 minute warning. If you have a lot of unanswered questions, it’s probably a good idea to start guessing. Remember, you are not penalized for guessing on the ACT test. You will only get credit for questions that you answer correctly. The more questions you answer, the better chance you have at earning a good ACT score.

4. Use a soft lead No. 2 pencil with a GOOD eraser. You’ll want to erase any pencil marks completely and cleanly without smudging.  This will avoid any scoring errors which may prevent you from earning a good ACT score.

5. On more challenging questions, eliminate as many incorrect answers as you can, then guess.  If you can eliminate 2 out of the 4 answers, you’ll have a 50/50 chance of answering questions correctly and earning a good ACT score.

  • ACT Writing Tips

1. To earn a good ACT score on the writing section, you must plan. Before you begin writing your essay, try to write out a brief outline.  You should be able to identify some main topics.  This will help you fill in the details as you write the essay.

2. When trying to earn a good ACT score, essay formatting is key. Don’t skip lines or write in the margins. You want your essay to be clear and legible.

3. The introduction sets the tone for the remainder of the essay.  Make sure to leave an impression on the examiners with your introduction.  It should show that you have a clear understanding of the topic and it will help you earn a good ACT score.

4. In the body of your essay, make sure to explain your point of view in a clear and logical manner.  If possible, discuss the issue in a broader context and evaluate any drawbacks.  Also, you might want to predict what others might say to disagree with your point of view, and offer a counter argument. All these tips will help earn a good ACT score.

5. Conclusion. Your conclusions should be strong.  It should summarize your ideas and reinforce your position.

6. Proofread. If there is time, do a final check to make sure that you don’t have any spelling or grammatical errors in your essay.

  • ACT Multiple Choice Tips


1.  Read and consider all the answer choices before you select an answer. Make sure that your choice is the BEST answer to increase your chance at earning a good ACT score.  Re-read the sentence using the answer you selected to make sure.

2.  Be conscious of the writing style used in each of the passages. This will help you better understand what you’re reading.

3.  Consider the context of underlined words or sections of a passage. Also, be aware of questions that do not have an underlined portion.


1. Make sure your calculator has reliable batteries and is working correctly on test day. If it’s broke, you’ll hinder your chance of a good ACT score. Also, make sure your calculator is permitted.

2. Solve the problem BEFORE looking at the answers, then check to see if your solution if among the answer choices.  If not, then review your calculations and make sure your answer is reasonable.

3. If you can’t solve the problem, try to eliminate some of the answers and then make an educated guess. Remember, it’s okay to guess.

Reading & Science:

1. Read each passage carefully. You want to make sure you understand the material.

2. As you answer the questions, refer back to the passage before selecting a final answer. You might notice something that you missed the first time.

3. Carefully consider each answer choice before you choose the one that best responds to the question.

If you follow these test day tips, I’m certain that you’ll earn a good ACT score.  Good luck!

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Lauren Anderson is a certified school counselor who's passionate about helping students all over the world successfully transition from high school to college! After spending 6 years as a business professional, she obtained her Master’s degree in School Counseling and now spends her spare time helping students.

7 Responses to “How To Earn A Good ACT Score”

  • Monica Matthews on January 12, 2012

    Thanks for these helpful tips! My son is taking the ACT in a few months and we will be discussing your tips together! :)

  • Khanyisile on July 28, 2012

    I really wana achieve my matric,but i seem not to get any help from no becouse they say im stupid,i have my phone and library thats how i keep up most of the time but im not happy with mi marks they very low

    • TheCollegeHelper

      TheCollegeHelper on August 8, 2012

      Hi Khanyisile,

      Thanks for visiting our site!

      Never let anyone tell you that you’re stupid; there are lots of resources out there to help you. The library and internet are a good start. Have you considered tutoring?

    • Mallory Londeck

      Mallory Londeck on September 10, 2012


      Don’t worry if your scores aren’t as good as you want them to be the first few times you take the test. The more you practice, the better you will be! Don’t give up!

      Here are a few other things that might help you:

      1) Invest in an ACT Prep Book. They provide a lot of tips, contain practice tests, and are very helpful to many students!
      Here is a link to one on And it’s only 25 dollars!

      2) Read as much as you can! Seriously, read read read. Read whatever interests you, it doesn’t have to be a text book. Reading fiction, or even magazines can strengthen vocabulary and reading comprehension.

      3)There are many ACT prep classes available. Ask a teacher or counselor, and I am sure they can recommend one in your area. You will be able to gain a lot of hands experience that way, and it should improve your score.

  • Grant on September 9, 2012

    Great tips! I’ll be sharing these with some of my high school students to prepare them when they’re taking their ACT’s.

  • Nkululeko on October 21, 2012


    I’m also in Matric this year working towards great marks.
    When I finished primary It was almost certain that I wouldn’t make it in high school. But I gave it my all and now I’m the top class and I’m applying to Yale!

    So work hard and believe in yourself and forget the rest!

    To College Helper: with regards to applying to Ivy Legue schools : are average grades an instant “turn off” or do they really consider your essays and your story?


    • TheCollegeHelper

      TheCollegeHelper on October 28, 2012

      Hi Kkululeko,

      Thanks for visiting our site!

      No, average grades are not an “instant” turn off. They really do consider your essays and your story. In fact, I was recently talking to someone who is a graduate of Harvard and she emphasized how much the admissions team looks at the whole applicant, not just grades and standardized test scores.

      Hope this helps! Best of luck!

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