When preparing for the ACT, did you know that it is easily possible to study too much? Studying hard is a great thing, but heading towards a burn out won’t help you when the test date arrives. Instead, practice smarter studying habits by following some of these tips.

How to work smarter, not harder

You should absolutely, however, complete full practice tests as part of your preparation process. At a minimum, plan to take a practice test every few weeks—but no more than once every other week. For most students, this will come out to about four or five full exams before your actual ACT. The key is to practice with a purpose, rather than merely to cover material. 

Plan Ahead

Planning months ahead of the ACT test date can offer some real benefits for your studying habits. You can chart out what to study and how often to take the practice exams, allowing you plenty of time to figure out what subjects or areas you need to improve on.

Consider creating a calendar of subjects and areas to tackle once you know the test date of your ACT exam. Also, include the dates you want to take the practice tests.

Review your mistakes. Look at each question that you missed, and try to solve it now that you have a little more time. If you can’t solve it, make a note so that you can study the concept that it tests and return to the question later.

Take Care of Yourself

 It’s easy to sit down to study and stay up an hour later than you normally would to cram in that little extra bit. However, that extra little bit may be doing you more harm than good. Getting enough sleep every night and especially the evening before your ACT exam date is essential to doing well in school and on tests.

In addition to getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night, you should also be eating well and getting plenty of exercise. Don’t avoid eating or exercising to get in a bit more studying.

Identify troublesome topics. 

Look for patterns in the types of questions you’re missing. Are you consistently struggling with quadratics? Do most of your grammar errors involve punctuation? Are you missing the majority of your reading questions in the fiction passage? Make a list of the topics that are giving you the most trouble.

Taking practice exams

Maximize the impact of your practice tests by mimicking real test conditions as closely as possible. This involves:

  • Taking the test in one sitting. Don’t do one section in the morning and another in the afternoon or on a different day.
  • Sticking to the allotted time. While it may be tempting to give yourself an extra three or four minutes, you won’t have that option on the real exam, and you want to get used to working under the pressure of the clock.
  • Not eating or drinking during the test. Remember, on test day, you will only be able to snack during the breaks.