ACT for Dummies, With Online Practice

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  • Edition: 7th
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2020-01-15
  • Publisher: For Dummies

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Supplemental Materials

What is included with this book?


Ace the ACT with this comprehensive guide to test success

Slay the ACT monster with this trusted and friendly guide to maximizing your test score, minimizing your fear, and acing your way into the college of your dreams. This updated edition schools you in winning study strategies and drills you to examination day perfection with exercises and practice problems that help you improve your performance, and become a lean, mean, test-crushing machine.

Complete with updated math coverage to align with recent test changes, ACT For Dummies provides access to a companion website featuring three full-length practice tests, math flashcards, and real-time feedback on your performance. You’ll also find advice on how to shine in the optional essay test with tips on how to build your argument and improve your writing, as well as insider knowledge of how scoring works.

  • Techniques and best practices for maximizing your score
  • Strategies to stay focused and manage your time
  • Tips on navigating the college admissions process
  • Advice for parents on helping you succeed

No excuses! Get your ACT together today and say a confident, anxiety-free hello to college success tomorrow!

Author Biography

Lisa Zimmer Hatch, MA, and Scott A. Hatch, JD, have been helping students succeed on standardized tests since 1987. They have written curricula and numerous test-prep guides, and have taught internationally through their online forums, live lectures, DVDs, and study programs.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

About This Book 1

Foolish Assumptions 2

Icons Used in This Book 3

Beyond the Book 3

Where to Go from Here 4

Figuring Out How Long All This Studying Will Take 5

Part 1: Coming to Terms with Reality: An Overview of the ACT 7

Chapter 1: Getting Your ACT Together: ACT 101 9

What to Take to the ACT 10

What Not to Take to the ACT 11

What to Do If You Have Special Circumstances 11

Guessing for Points to Maximize Your Score 12

Your Number’s Up: Scoring on the ACT 12

What the ACT Expects You to Know 13

Repeating the Test for a Better Score 14

Chapter 2: Succeeding on the ACT 17

Surviving the ACT with Four Stress-Busters 17

Inhaling deeply 17

Stretching a little 18

Thinking positive thoughts 18

Practicing POE 18

Avoiding a Few Dumb Mistakes That Can Mess Up Your ACT 18

Losing concentration 19

Panicking over time 19

Messing up on the answer grid 19

Rubbernecking 19

Cheating 20

Worrying about previous sections 20

Worrying about the hard problems 20

Forgetting to double-check 20

Chapter 3: Surviving the College Admissions Process 21

What’s the Main Thing Colleges Look For? 21

How Do Higher ACT Scores Increase My Scholarship Chances? 22

Do Schools Care Whether I Repeat the ACT? 22

What Classes Should I Take in High School? 22

How Helpful Are Sports and Charity? 23

What Should I Say on the College Essay? 23

What Will They Ask Me in the Interview and What Should I Say? 23

How Do I Decide Which School is Best for Me? 24

What’s the Biggest Mistake Most Students Make in College Planning? 24

How Do I Make My Final Decision? 25

Part 2: Serving Your “Sentence”: The English Test 27

Chapter 4: Mastering the English Test 29

Figuring Out What the English Questions Want You to Know 29

Seeing is Believing: The Test’s Format 30

The passages 30

The question types 30

Their Pain, Your Gain: Looking Out for Traps That Others Fall into 32

Chapter 5: Getting a Grip on Grammar and Usage 35

Reviewing the Parts of Speech 36

Getting in the action with verbs 36

Identifying the culprit with nouns 37

Avoiding repeating yourself with pronouns 37

Defining nouns with adjectives 37

Clarifying the questions with adverbs 38

Joining together with conjunctions and prepositions 38

Piecing Together the Parts of a Sentence 38

Subjects and predicates 38

Phrases and clauses 39

Keeping Track of Punctuation Rules for Every Occasion 39

Periods and question marks 39

Semicolons 40

Colons 40

Commas 40

Dashes 42

Apostrophes 43

Chapter 6: Spotting Usage Errors and Ripping through Rhetorical Questions 45

Spotting Questions That Test Standard English Conventions 45

Properly placing punctuation marks 45

Picking up on pronoun errors 48

Forming possessives 49

Evaluating verbs 50

Calling out sentence fragments 51

Identifying problems with parallelism 51

Recognizing misplaced modifiers 51

Checking for Proper Production of Writing 52

Eliminating superfluous words 53

Completing the mission 54

Determining the function of a deletion 54

Pondering an addition 54

Creating smooth transitions 55

Organizing and positioning elements 56

Seeing the big picture 56

Sticking to appropriate vocabulary and standard expressions 57

Chapter 7: It’s Not What You Say but How You Say It: English Practice Questions 59

Part 3: Don’t Count Yourself Out: The Math Test 65

Chapter 8: Number Nuts and Bolts 67

The Wonderful World of Numbers 67

Keeping it real: Types of numbers 68

Lining things up along the number line 69

Understanding absolute value 69

Getting familiar with prime numbers and factorization 69

Minor Surgery: Basic Math Operations 70

Adding and subtracting 70

Multiplying and dividing 70

Working with odds/evens and positives/negatives 71

Focusing on Fractions, Decimals, and Percentages 71

Converting fractions, decimals, and percentages 72

Working with fractions 72

Pondering percentages 74

Eyeing Ratios and Proportions 75

Ratios 75

Proportions 76

Covering Your Bases: Exponents 77

Smooth Operator: Order of Operations 78

Dealing with Average, Median, Mode, and More 78

Doing better than average on averages 78

Weighing in on weighted averages 79

Mastering medians 80

Managing modes 80

Getting ready for range 80

Abracadabra: Elementary Algebra 80

Variables 101 81

Solving simple equations 81

Adding and subtracting expressions 82

Multiplying and dividing expressions 83

Curses! FOILed again 83

Extracting by factoring 84

Solving a system of equations 86

Chapter 9: Getting into Shapes: Geometry and Trig Review 89

Toeing the Line 89

Analyzing Angles 90

Triangle Trauma 92

Classifying triangles 92

Sizing up triangles 93

Zeroing in on similar triangles 94

Figuring out area and perimeter 95

Going Greek: The Pythagorean theorem 95

Taking the shortcut: Pythagorean triples and other common side ratios 96

Thanks 4 Nothing: A Quick Look at Quadrilaterals 98

Missing Parrots and Other Polly-Gones (Or Should We Say “Polygons”?) 100

Measuring up polygons 101

Solving for volume 101

Running Around in Circles 102

Trying Your Hand at Trigonometry 107

Introducing trigonometric functions 108

Circumventing the unit circle 110

Measuring in radians 111

Graphing trig functions on a coordinate plane 112

Applying the Law of Sines and Law of Cosines 114

Chapter 10: Algebra and Other Sleeping Aids 117

Suffering Inequalities 117

Using Your Imagination: Complex Numbers 118

Too Hip to Be Square: Roots and Radicals 119

Adding and subtracting radicals 120

Multiplying and dividing radicals 120

Working from the inside out 121

Thinking Exponentially: Logarithms 121

Log rules 122

Natural logarithms 122

Barely Functioning with Functions 122

Taking a Flight on the Coordinate Plane 123

Defining the coordinate plane 123

Knowing which formulas you need to guide your flight 124

Graphing more functions 126

Evaluating graphs of functions 130

Picking Your Way through Percent Increase, Probability, Permutations, and Combinations 132

Managing the ups and downs 132

Practicing probability 133

Calculating outcomes and orderings 135

Setting Up Sequences 138

Managing Matrices 138

Chapter 11: Numb and Number: Acing the Mathematics Test 141

What You See is What You Get: The Format and Breakdown of the Math Test 141

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder: What Isn’t on the Math Test 142

Getting into the Grind: The Approach 143

Translating English into Math 144

Time Flies When You’re Having Fun: Timing Tips 145

Skim for your favorite questions 145

Backsolve when the answers are actual values 146

Plug in values for variables 147

Kindly refrain from showing off everything you know 148

Put aside two minutes to fill in the remaining ovals 148

Do’s, Don’ts, and Darns: What to Do and Not Do on the Math Test 148

Do get the lead out 148

Don’t start working until you’ve read the entire problem 149

Do reread the problem with your answer inserted 149

Don’t strike out over a difficult question early on 149

Chapter 12: More Fun than a Root Canal: Mathematics Practice Questions 151

Part 4: Time to Read the Riot ACT: The Reading Test 159

Chapter 13: This, Too, Shall Pass(age): Sailing through the Reading Test 161

Facing 40 Questions: The Reading Test 161

Timing 162

Scoring 162

Getting Prepared: Reading Strategies 162

Preview the passages 162

Decide on an approach 163

Skim the passage effectively 163

Identifying Reading Question Types 164

Big picture questions 165

Direct statement questions 165

Inference questions 166

Figuring Out Reading Question Formats 166

Vocabulary in context 167

Most nearly means 167

Exception questions 167

Approaching Comparative Passages 168

Tips and Traps 168

Chapter 14: Where Are SparkNotes When You Need Them? Reading Practice Questions 171

Part 5: Studying Brain Defects in Laboratory Rats: The Science Test 177

Chapter 15: From Frankenstein to Einstein: Excelling on the Science Test 179

Too Graphic for Words: The Science Test’s Format 179

Passage format 180

Question quirks 180

Just the Facts: Data Analysis 182

Approaching data interpretation with as little pain as possible 183

Reading tables, graphs, and diagrams 185

Examining Experimental Procedures 186

Identifying the study’s purpose 186

Following the experimental design and making valid conclusions 186

Warring Factions: Conflicting Viewpoints 188

Devising your plan of attack 188

Working through the conflict to find the right answer: Question styles 189

Chapter 16: Faking Atomic Ache Won’t Get You out of This: Science Practice Questions 191

Passage 191

Initial Analysis 193

Questions 193

Part 6: Writing Rightly: The Optional Writing Test 199

Chapter 17: Excelling on Your Essay: The Writing Test Review 201

What to Expect From the ACT Writing Test 201

Making the Grade: How the ACT Folks Score Your Essay 202

Examining the Prompt and Creating a Thesis 202

Putting Up Your Dukes: Defending Your Perspective 204

Throwing a Good First Punch: The Hook 204

The Proof is in the Pudding: Defending Yourself 205

Using specific examples 205

Mixing things up with a variety of examples 206

Forming logical arguments 206

Hamburger Writing: Organizing Your Essay 208

The top bun: Introduction 208

The three meats: Example paragraphs 208

The lettuce, tomato, and special sauce: Transitions 209

The bottom bun: Conclusion 210

Wielding the Red Pen: Editing and Proofing 210

Using the touch method to look for spelling mistakes and ghost words 210

Calling all action verbs: Be descriptive 210

Avoiding problems with punk-tu-a-tion: Punctuate properly 211

Handwriting check: Write legibly 211

Writing Don’ts 211

Writing before you think 211

Panicking about time 211

Referring to the perspectives by number 212

Sticking to the status quo 212

Using words you don’t know 212

Being overly critical of yourself 212

Writing like you speak 213

Repeating yourself over and over again 213

Failing to edit your essay 213

Reviewing Some Example Essays and Their Scores 213

1 — 1 is the loneliest number: How not to be a 1 214

2 — 2 little 2 late: Steering clear of coming in second 214

3 — Still finding yourself on the wrong side of the tracks 214

4 — Reaching 4 a better score 215

5 — Shining brightly: A 5-star winner 216

6 — Unlocking the code to a perfect score 217

Chapter 18: Practicing Promptly with Practice Prompts: Essay Practice Questions 219

Writing Prompt 1 219

Writing Prompt 2 221

Part 7: Putting It All Together with Three Full-Length Practice ACTs 223

Chapter 19: Practice Exam 1 225

Answer Sheet 226

Chapter 20: Practice Exam 1: Answers and Explanations 273

English Test 273

Mathematics Test 283

Reading Test 296

Science Test 303

Writing Test 308

Sample response 309

Score One for Your Side: The Scoring Guide 309

Answer Key for Practice Exam 1 311

Chapter 21: Practice Exam 2 313

Answer Sheet 314

Chapter 22: Practice Exam 2: Answers and Explanations 355

English Test 355

Mathematics Test 366

Reading Test 379

Science Test 386

Writing Test 395

Sample response 395

Answer Key for Practice Exam 2397

Chapter 23: Practice Exam 3 399

Answer Sheet400

Chapter 24: Practice Exam 3: Answers and Explanations 445

English Test 445

Mathematics Test 455

Reading Test 473

Science Test 481

Writing Test 488

Sample response 488

Answer Key for Practice Exam 3 489

Part 8: The Part of Tens 491

Chapter 25: Ten Wrong Rumors about the ACT 493

You Can’t Study for the ACT 493

Different States Have Different ACTs 493

The ACT Has a Passing Score 494

The ACT Tests IQ 494

You Can’t Use a Calculator on the ACT 494

You Should Never Guess on the ACT 494

The ACT is Easier Than the SAT 495

Selective Colleges Prefer the SAT to the ACT 495

You Have to Write an Essay 495

You Shouldn’t Take Both the SAT and the ACT 495

Chapter 26: Attention, Parents! Ten Ways You Can Help Your Student Succeed on the ACT 497

Give Him Awesome Test-Prep Materials 497

Encourage Her to Study 497

Supply Him with a Good Study Environment 498

Take Practice Tests with Her 498

Model Good Grammar for Him 498

Help Her Memorize Math Formulas 498

Encourage Him to Read 498

Explore Colleges with Her 498

Get Him to the Test Site on Time 499

Help Her Keep a Proper Perspective 499

Index 501

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