Kentucky Juniors Test Tomorrow

Basic math formulas

All Juniors in Kentucky public schools are taking the ACT tomorrow. I know MANY who have been practicing hard so that they can do their very best! Here are some basic things to keep in mind tomorrow as you test.


The English section consists of 5 passages:  75 questions that must be answered in 45 minutes.  Most people struggle to finish. If you start a passage and you do not understand it, skip it and go on to the next one.  Do not answer every question in the order they are asked.  Sometimes the ACT will ask you to pick a transition sentence to connect two paragraphs.  Since you haven’t read the second paragraph yet, this is hard. Skip it.  Finish answering the questions and then come back. You have now read the entire passage and you didn’t have to take extra time reading the paragraph twice. Some of the “language usage” questions take much longer to answer than the others. They are also more difficult. Skip these and come back to them at the end of the test if you have time. It is a travesty to not finish a test because you were stuck on the “hard” questions and left the easy ones unanswered.  If you are running out of time, guess on everything that is left unanswered.  There is no guessing penalty on the ACT.


You will have 60 questions to answer in 60 minutes.  You will go through the math questions 3 times.  On the first trip, answer all of the questions that come easily for you.  You know how to do them.  Be very careful and do not make any mistakes.  On your second trip through, do the ones that are a little more difficult, but you are still pretty sure that you can get the correct answer. Save the hardest ones for last.  If you run out of time, at least you will have answered correctly all of the ones that you knew how to do.  Sometimes the last few questions are relatively easy, but people run out of time before they get to them. Remember, the ACT doesn’t provide the math formulas that you will need for the test. You will need to know those by heart. I posted them above.

You have a 10 minute bathroom break. Bring a protein bar
and a water bottle. It will help you finish strong for the final two sections of the test. You can purchase these many places, including Krogers.


Again, we do NOT answer questions in order on the ACT.  Each test has 4 passages: Prose Fiction, Social Science, Humanities and Natural Science. Start with the passage that you like the best. Do the one you are least comfortable with last. Always answer the “main idea of the passage” questions last (they are usually asked first and this is a HUGE time eater).  After you have answered all of the other questions, you will have a much better feel for the passage and will be able to answer the question more intelligently.    Remember, there is only ONE CORRECT answer. Every word in every answer must be true for the answer to be correct.  It is sometimes easier to mark out the wrong answers first, leaving you with the correct answer. EVERY WORD must be true and supported by the passage.  Use your pencil.  Mark this passage up. Cross out wrong answers.  Research shows that test takers who mark up their tests score much higher than those who do not interact with the material.


For most students the science section is extremely intimidating.  The science section tests the same skill set as the reading section.  Almost every answer is on the test (every science section has 3 to 4 questions that require outside information). The science section is measuring how well you can read graphs and trends.  There are 6 passages with 5 to 7 questions each.  Usually the 1st question in each of those sections is the easiest and the last question is the hardest.  If you were to skip the last question and get all of the others correct, you would still score a 27 on the science section. Do not get bogged down here. If you start reading a section and don’t understand it, move on. Don’t spend too much time on one question or you will never make it to easier questions that still lie ahead.  Remember, each question is worth the same amount.  You must do everything in your power to get the easy questions correct.

It’s Over.

You did well.  You showed up. You gave it your all.  The ACT is not a reflection of your character, your skill, your creativity, or even your intelligence.  It is a representation of how well you can take a test and how quickly you can process information.

However, I would encourage you to use your character, your skill, your creativity, and your intelligence to develop a long range plan to conquer this test. It can be done: I’m cheering as you do it.

Last Minute Tips for the February 6 ACT




I am rooting for so many kids this weekend who are taking the ACT.  Some are 7th graders taking it for the first time through the Duke TIP.  Some are Seniors who just need one more point for thousands of dollars in scholarships. These kids came to me for guidance and help. It’s a responsibility that I don’t take lightly.

So, for all of you who are running this race, I cheer you on! Here are some last minute tips as you round out your final week of study.

  • Be Mentally Tough. You will see things on the test that will initially throw you. Be prepared for that.  Smile, laugh, and move on.  Take at least 4 sharpened pencils with you into the test. Use a new pencil at the beginning of each section. Let the pencil represent the renewed vigor in which  you will approach each section, no matter what happened in the section before.
  • Review Your Personal Strategy. You developed it. You wrote it. You are in charge.    Having said that, give yourself permission to make last minute changes if a Reading passage or Science section is not clicking with you.
  • Manage Your Time. We all could get high scores on the ACT if we were not timed. Do not stay too long on one question.  Remember, there are easy questions still to come.
  • Review Grammar. A semi-colon is always used to connect two complete sentences; a colon must always follow a complete sentence. There are many things that can follow a colon on the right, but a complete sentence will always be to the left of a colon. Don’t EVER connect two complete sentences with a comma. That is a comma splice and the ACT loves to roll out this trick multiple times on every test.
  • Review Math Formulas. Forty Percent of the math is Pre-Algebra and Algebra 1. Draw out word problems and take care with basic Algebra. The math section generally goes from easiest to hardest. Don’t make careless mistakes in the first 30 math problems. If you can’t do a math problem quickly, save it until the end and come back. Review the math formulas that you must know for the test.
  • Eat. Pack a protein bar and water bottle for the 10 minute break.
  • 4,2,1,3. Choose a personal order of preference for the Reading passages. Some do better beginning with the fiction passages. Some prefer non-fiction. If a certain passage isn’t making sense to you, pause and move on. Remember, EVERY answer must be supported by the text. Do not add information to the passage.
  • Finish Strong. By the time you get to Science, you are tired and worn down. Do not be intimidated!  Science is all about reading charts, graphs, and tables. Look at the charts first. Note the patterns. Then look to the answer choices to see where to look on the graphs for the answer.  There will be 3 to 4 questions on each Science test that require outside information. When you come to one of those, make your best guess. Just like the Reading section, every answer can be found within the test pages themselves. Your Reading score and Science score should be within one point of each other. It is testing the same skill.

Take time to review this week. Work hard until Friday. No studying the night before the test. Let your mind rest.  Pack everything for the next day and sleep well. Eat a good breakfast. Resolve to be mentally strong whatever the day holds.

I am proud of you. Run your race.