3 years ago
Admissions Advice

Should I work on speed or accuracy first for the ACT?


I am a junior who has been practicing for the SAT for the past year. In Texas, the SAT is more popular so I had a mindset that the ACT is harder and for the smartest kids. I hit a wall with the SAT and finally took the ACT about two weeks ago and I scored better and liked it more than the SAT.

My score when following the time guidelines was a 26, but I also timed myself as I went overtime and calculated that if I didn't abide by the timing rules my score would be a 31.

I had a similar question, and @CameronBameron gave excellent advice and tips, so it got me thinking about my plan. I was going to first go over my practice test and find the root of all my problems. Then I was planning on working on my speed by practicing and studying the subjects in the order of my weakest to strongest (Reading, Math, Science, then English; I also graded my own test and categorized my answers based on the skill it fell under so I can understand the exact concepts I struggle with), and solving problems while timing myself. I also looked into some self-prep books and bought/borrowed the ones that seemed to have the best ratings for valuable content. I'm trying self-help stuff because I had PrepScholar for a year and it has great content but because it was online I couldn't focus. Pretty much all programs are online now, so no matter how good they are, I get restless staring at a screen all day, especially since it's easier to give in the urge to switch tabs.

I plan on taking my first real ACT in person on either June 12 or July 17, so I have just over four or five months of studying before my first ACT.

So this was the plan I originally had, but @CameronBameron practiced the ACT by practicing to achieve 36 in each section untimed and then working on speed. So now I am wondering if it would be most effective to practice speed first or last.

Please let me know what you think as well as if you have any tips, secrets, or just what you think was the most effective in your study plan. Don't hesitate to mention the books that you used, I especially would like books with realistic ACT questions that aren't taken from an actual official ACT or ACT practice test as I would like to take those so if the questions were word for word it would be unfair to my score.

Anyways, any help is appreciated!


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1 answer

Accepted Answer
3 years ago

I am personally prepping for the SAT but yes, in your case I suggest you to focus on timing. You mentioned that you took an ACT test without timing rules(I'm gonna assume that means taking the practice test untimed) and got a 31. The highest score achievable on the test is a 36 so in terms of accuracy, your score is pretty high. Practice on your timing to answer questions right and faster. Make sure you review your mistakes! Also, in response to your first paragraph, take whichever test you feel most comfortable with, which in your case, is the ACT. It doesn't matter how much harder each of the tests are for other students, all it matters is which one you're better at yourself. (I can't believe how many times I have to say this.) I'm only taking the SAT because I got extra time (time-and-a-half) and I feel like it is easier to handle. Best of luck to you and whoever is taking them as well!

What are your chances of acceptance?
Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
+ add school
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

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