Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Real Way to Ace the ACT

I feel bad for juniors. You juniors are constantly and consistently badgered about stuff concerning the ACT – from practice books, to ACT workshops, to a bouquet of dates you are supposed to write down. And as you already know, the ACT is the single most important event in your whole life. In a nutshell, it is a test of your worth as a human being. As Genesis 4:4-6 states, “A student’s life with a poor ACT score is like a priest’s life without an Escalade: not worth living.”

You may ask, “Matthew, how are you so knowledgeable about the ACT? How can you relate to my personal situation?”

It is difficult for me to talk about, but I will admit that I was a junior at one dark point in my life. I am not proud of it, nor do I encourage bragging about it, but I am man enough to at least address it. And because of this sad fact, I have arcane knowledge about situations that the typical junior will face.

So being the benevolent soul that I sometimes am, I have decided to put together a short list of advice about everything regarding the ACT. I organized this information in a Seventeen Magazine-like fashion, first with a common myth, and then with the cold hard facts.


Myth: Taking practice tests or enrolling in an ACT workshop can help you sharpen rusty skills, and therefore improve your score drastically. Studying and reviewing core subjects is crucial.

Fact: Nonsense. There have been no conclusive studies linking studying with doing well on tests. In my personal experience, I found a combination of watching a Family Guy marathon and eating cashews to be beneficial. Even if you defy my advice, eat some cashews anyways. They are loaded with Omega 3 fats - which are polyunsaturated fatty acids that can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease - and more importantly, are very tasty.

Myth: Get at least 8 hours of sleep the night before the test. In the morning, eat a well-balanced breakfast.

Fact: Sleep is not necessary. Ironically, a recent Harvard study found sleep to be synonymous with things such as headache, heart disease, diabetes, HIV, and death – not to mention absolutely terrible ACT scores. As for breakfast, a few pixie sticks rounded off with a gulp of Nyquil are sure to make you perform at your best. If you don’t believe me…well, it’s your loss.

Myth: Make sure you have two #2 pencils and erasers. Write your name and contact information clearly on your packet. Fill in bubbles fully, but do not cross lines.

Fact: Use a crayon! What, are you chicken? Afraid your ACT will be voided? It won’t be. Using a utensil other than a #2 pencil will show that you are an individual who is not afraid to think for yourself. Don’t be constrained by what society is telling you to write your ACT with! If you want to bust out a feather and ink, more power to you. Also, your name is not necessary on the ACT. I wrote “Morgan Freeman” on mine, and everyone who works at the ACT headquarters got a good laugh when my name, race, and social security number didn’t match up.

I have given this priceless advice to countless friends. Some are now pediatric cardiovascular surgeons, some are successful lawyers, some are entrepreneurs, and a couple work at bowling alleys. Oh, and by some, I mean none. So it goes.