The Right Way to Keep Time on the ACT
April 16th, 2020
19 mins 45 secs
About this Episode
One of the downfalls of being an inexperienced ACT test taker is you may not know how much time you have left. The tests are very long and difficult to finish. As mentioned earlier, you should always answer every question. If you run out of time without every question answered, your score will not be as high as it could be. Time seems to pass very quickly during a difficult section of the test. Be aware of the time but not terrified of it. Using a wall clock in the testing center may not be the best method. I found that trying to keep time on my watch or a simple wall clock often confused me, and concentrating solely on the test often caused me to forget when the test started and when it was supposed to end. In order to prevent this unnecessary confusion, I created my own method of time keeping. I wore a simple three-handed (hour, minute, and second) watch. Before a section began, I let the second hand on my watch rotate until it pointed to the twelve. Then I stopped the second hand from moving by pulling out the crown. Next, I adjusted the other hands so that the clock read exactly noon. Then I backed the time from noon for the amount of time allotted for the section. For example on the English test, which lasts 45 minutes, I moved the clock to read 11:15. When the test administrator said, "Go," I started the clock. I knew at all times during the test that when my watch read straight up noon, the test was over. No questions. No confusion. This method may seem somewhat ridiculous, but if you want to reduce confusion and improve your score, master a time keeping method. A digital watch can also be used if you want to purchase one, but it can not make noise or communicate such as an Apple watch.
Finally, when the test administrators announce there are five minutes remaining in each section, you should ignore them. First of all, you already know the time because you are keeping time on your watch. The other reason is five minutes is a lot of time. For example, the science test is six passages designed to be of approximately equal length and difficulty. The science test as a whole is 35 minutes long. Thirty-five minutes divided by six equal passages is five minutes and 50 seconds. At the five minute call if you think your test is over and you panic, you are greatly reducing your score. Many students start guessing when the test administrator calls five minutes. If you do that, you are going to guess on approximately 24 questions total in English, math, reading, and science. If the guessing odds play out, you will get about 6 of the 24 correct. Consider the following: if you score a 19, you are getting about half the questions right. If you do this while guessing when they call five minutes, you got 6 out of 24 rather than 12 out of 24. That is a difference of 6 questions spread over the four sections of the ACT. Did you know that a difference of 6 questions spread over the four sections of the ACT is over a one composite score increase? If you are guessing at 5 minutes and scoring a 19, try the method described above, and your composite ACT score should increase to at least a 20 doing this alone!
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