We’re extremely proud of our unique approach to the ACT and the spectacular results we’ve had, but no matter how excited students get when they first learn of our strategy, we always need to stress that it’s not magic, nor is it a quick fix. While our strategic approach is definitely a game-changer, we teach our students that relying on strategy alone is not the best way to prepare for the ACT. The best way to prepare for the ACT is a word students seldom like to hear: practice.
We think this is similar to two words most people don’t want to hear from their doctors: diet and exercise. Why? Because most people want an immediate way to get results – some magic formula that will allow them to avoid putting in the work needed to earn those results.
But if you’re preparing for the ACT, you need to understand something: we can teach you how to approach the test strategically, like a good test taker, but to really boost your ACT score, there is no way to avoid doing serious practice. As an analogy, consider this: even if we could give you the most technologically advanced car in the world, it’s obvious that, without some form of fuel, the car just wouldn’t go anywhere. Similarly, in our crash course, we teach our students a powerfully effective approach for attacking the ACT and achieving a dramatic increase in score, but it relies on practice to propel it. The more practice you do, the better the strategy works and the better you do on the ACT.
So, let’s say that you’re willing and ready to practice. Your next question ought to be “How should I practice?” A variety of test prep guides on the market include mock ACT tests, but we found that many of these often differ from real ACTs in significant ways. So, we very strongly suggest using retired ACT tests (actual ACT tests that were given to students in recent years). There is no better way to discover your strengths and weaknesses on the ACT, as well as to begin to recognize the ACT’s patterns.
Where can you find retired ACT tests? The ACT publishes The Real ACT Prep Guide, which is currently in its third edition and includes five retired ACT tests along with decent explanations behind the solution to each question. In addition, over the years, the ACT has released four other retired tests in practice booklets. We’ve made links available to free copies of these four tests on our Resources page. So, that’s nine “real” tests, and we suggest you do them all.
In a later blog post, we’ll discuss how to create an effective practice schedule. For now, whether you’re taking the ACT in a few months or in a few years, start familiarizing yourself with the test by doing untimed practice problems using “real” (i.e., retired) ACT exams.