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Ten Important Things to Remember before Taking the ACT

You can’t be too organized, especially for the ACT Math test. To make sure you get off on the right foot, here are ten items to check off as you approach the test.

  1. Put Your ACT Admission Ticket in a Safe Place

    As with the movies, but with far less entertainment value, the ACT requires a ticket to get in. You should receive your ticket well in advance of the test after you’ve registered and paid. When you receive it, put your ticket in a safe, dry place until the night before the test. The last thing you need the day of your test is a frantic search for a vanished ticket.

  2. Be 100 Percent Sure about the Date and Time of Your ACT

    When you receive your ticket, check the date and time of your ACT and put it on a calendar you check regularly. Or, if you keep appointments on your phone, set an alarm a few days before to make sure you don’t miss the test.

    If you miss your ACT, you lose the money you spent. You can’t receive a refund or postponement after the fact.

  3. Make Sure You Know How to Get There

    If the test center for your ACT happens to be your school, finding it should be a no-brainer. But if it’s held someplace else, make sure you’re clear on how to get there. Use the Internet (or a trusted friend or family member) to get directions, and then drive the route before the test, during daylight hours if your test is scheduled to begin early in the morning (when it may be dark!).

  4. Purchase the Calculator You Intend to Use

    Buy a calculator well in advance of the ACT so you have time to practice with it. At a minimum, this calculator should be able to give you the square root (radical) of a number.

  5. Make Sure You Feel Comfortable Using Your Calculator

    After you’ve picked out and purchased the calculator you intend to use on the ACT, don’t let it just sit there in its hard-to-open plastic shell until the day before the test. Be sure to use it when studying and taking practice tests. All calculator models are slightly different, so using one before you’re under the time pressure of a test is usually the best way to find out all its little quirks. If you have questions about how to work your calculator, check out the manual that comes with it.

  6. Have a Backpack All Ready to Go by the Door

    The night before your ACT, pack a backpack (or some other container to carry stuff in) with everything you need, including the following:

    • Admission ticket

    • Identification

    • Plenty of sharpened #2 pencils

    • A calculator (with fresh batteries) that you know how to use

    • Extra batteries for your calculator

    • Something to eat or drink during your break, which happens just after you finish your math test

  7. Pick Out Your Clothes for the Morning

    Your mom is right on this one: If you lay out your clothes the night before your test, you’ll have one less thing to think about the morning of your ACT. Be sure to take a few layers of clothing in case the temperature of the room is too hot or too cold for your liking. You’re stuck in that one room for four or five hours, so you want to be sure you’re comfortable.

  8. Have a Relaxing Night before the Test

    The night before the ACT is yours to do with as you choose. If you work, get the night off well in advance so you have plenty of time to relax and get a good night’s sleep. Then spend this time in whatever way you enjoy — with friends or alone, watching a movie or shopping at the mall, walking on the beach or biking around your neighborhood, playing with your dog or feeding your fish. Do whatever makes you feel calm and rested.

    You should not study the night before. And, most important, don’t take a practice test! If you must study, limit the time to half an hour — just enough to review a few formulas or look over some practice problems.

  9. Set the Alarm for an Early Rise

    Set your alarm early enough to allow plenty of time to get ready, eat breakfast, and get out the door and on the road. Better to arrive early and wait around for a few minutes than arrive late and run in the door panicked, out of breath, and unfocused.

  10. Focus on Your Breathing

    Take nice deep breaths (but not too many — you don’t want to hyperventilate). Deep breaths give you oxygen, which is always a good thing. Oxygen helps to move adrenalin — the hormone that accounts for that shaky feeling you get when scared or nervous — out of your bloodstream. Breathe as you sit down to begin the test. Breathe as you begin the test. And along the way, if you notice anxiety beginning to creep in, take some more deep breaths.

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