If you want to gauge your progress on the ACT, you can download your free ACT practice tests here:
While there are other ACT practice tests you can take, you would do well to use a free ACT practice test right from the source, American College Testing. These tests have the same content and difficulty as the actual ACT and are graded on the same scale. Many big box test prep companies furnish you with tests that are harder than the real ACT and scored on a more severe scale.
So, if you want to know how you’d do on a real ACT, download these tests and take them as you would a real ACT. The best part is the questions, answer sheets, answers, essays, and scoring are included in the free PDFs.
By all means you will want to follow the same testing schedule in use for the actual ACT:
Primary Guidelines for Taking Your Free ACT Practice Tests
Take your practice test in the morning after a good night’s sleep and a good breakfast. Since you want to replicate test conditions, you will want to be undisturbed for the duration of the test.
Next, time yourself: each section of the test will show you the time allotted for that section. Use only that time. If you have an accommodation, you can use your extra time.
Also, use a bubble sheet as you would on the test day. This is included as the last page of each PDF.
Another point: you want to answer all questions. There is no penalty for a wrong answer.
While there is no food nor water allowed in the testing center, you should pack some in a bag. During your break, drink and/or eat as needed.
Don’t worry about fluctuating scores on your first few tests. This is normal. Over time you will most likely notice a general upward score trend. You are looking for progress, not perfection.
Basic Strategies for Taking Your Free ACT Practice Tests
Doodle. Be sure to make diagrams and drawings when they help you. This makes it your test. It helps to redraw diagrams on the math section, making them larger. Then it is easier for you to label lengths and angles. Also, it helps you to see triangles within triangles. Take a handful of tests and this will make sense.
For the math section, use your calculator as if you are paid to do so. Also, use parentheses as you would a seatbelt when driving. For clarification on this point, please ask me during our next session.
Use triage marking: when you encounter a difficult question or one you guessed on, please mark it so you can review it at the post-mortem. Even if your answer is correct. Many times there is a better, faster, or clearer way to understand the answer. Marking your answers will help you focus your review of the test.
If a question is taking up too much time, let it go.
Answer every question. There is no penalty for an incorrect answer. Mentioning this again as it is the most ignored, but easiest way to gain points.
After Taking Your Free ACT Practice Tests
As good as it is to take practice tests, you would do well to review your test. You’ll want to make note of your problem sections along with your problem topics. The more focused your review and preparation for the test, the more effective it will be.
Naturally, as in most cerebral endeavors, you would benefit from the help of a professional with years of experience. For your confidence, you’d prefer someone who had scored extremely well on the ACT, perhaps a MENSA member?
Isn’t it fortunate that Martin McSweeney from mcstutoring.com is just such a person? He is available for in-person and online SAT Test preparation.