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The ACT: Ten Dumb Things You Can Do To Mess Up Your ACT (page 2)

By — John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Updated on Dec 21, 2011

Cheating

Dumb, dumb, dumb! Cheating on the ACT is a loser's game - it's just plain stupid. Apart from the legal, moral, and ethical questions, let's talk practicality: You can't predict what types of grammatical mistakes will show up in the questions; what are you going to do copy a textbook on the palm of your hand? All the math formulas that you need can't fit onto the bottom of your shoe.

Worrying about Previous Sections

Think of the ACT as five separate lifetimes. You're reborn four times, so you get four more chances to "do it right." Every time the proctor says, "Your time is up. Please turn to the next test and begin," you get a fresh start. The ACT rules are very strict: You can't go back to a previous section and finish work there or change some of your answers. If you try to do so, the proctor will catch you and you'll be in a world of hurt.

Worrying About the Hard Problems

The ACT contains some incredibly hard problems and questions. Forget about 'em. Almost no one gets them right, anyway. A ridiculously few students receive 36s every year, and if you get into the 30s, you're in a superelite club of only a few percent of the thousands and thousands of students who take the ACT annually. Just accept the fact that you either won't get to or can't answer a few of the hard questions and learn to live with your imperfection. If you do go quickly enough to get to the hard questions, don't waste too much time on them. See if you can use common sense to eliminate any answers. Then mark your best guess from the remaining choices. Keep reminding yourself that every question counts the same in a section, whether that question is a simple 1 + 1 = 2 or some deadly word problem that may as well be written in Lithuanian.

Forgetting to Double-Check

If you finish a test early, go back and double-check the easy and medium questions. Don't spend more time trying to do the hard questions. If a question was too hard for you five minutes ago, it's probably still too hard for you. Your brain capacity likely hasn't doubled in the last few minutes. If you made a totally careless or dumb mistake on an easy question, however, going back over the problem gives you a chance to catch and correct your error. You're more likely to gain points by double-checking easy questions than by staring open-mouthed at the hard ones.

Every question counts the same. A point you save by catching a careless mistake is just as valuable as a point you earn, grunting and sweating, by solving a mondo-hard problem.

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