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How to Study for the ACT in 1 Month

With just one month to study for the ACT, you’ll want to be as organized as possible to make the most of your time. It’s ideal to spread your ACT prep over two or three months, but one month is still enough to see score gains. Here’s how to get it done.

RELATED: ACT 3-Month Study Plan ]

 

1 Month ACT Study Plan Calendar

Before you sit down to prep, you should create a study calendar to carve out time for ACT prep over the next month. Be honest and realistic with yourself when planning your studying—take into account all of your other obligations, including homework, extracurricular activities, travel time, etc. 

A study calendar will guide you through the month leading up to Test Day. Taking the time at the onset to sketch out your plan will make prepping for the ACT more manageable and will keep you accountable. You’ll be able to make space for your ACT prep ahead of time, and you’ll know exactly what to study each day.  

There are five sections on the ACT: English, Math, Reading, Science, and Writing (optional). 

Budget time in your study calendar each week for each section. Also, plan to take and review a practice test.

 

Here’s a sample one-week schedule:

SUNDAYMONDAYTUESDAYWEDNESDAYTHURSDAYFRIDAYSATURDAY
Full-length practice test Review practice test answers & explanationsDay OffEnglish PrepMath & Reading PrepDay OffScience Prep
3.5 hours3.5 hoursn/a1 hour2 hoursn/a1 hour

The ACT is 2 hours and 55 minutes wrong, plus the optional 40-minute Writing Test. Your longest days studying will likely be when you take a full-length practice test (be sure to complete the Writing Test each time if you are planning to take it during the real thing) and the day you review your practice test.

There is flexibility in how you plan out your calendar. Use your judgment to carve out more or less time as you see fit for each section of the test. If you feel solid about your command of the material covered on ACT Math, spend less time prepping for it. On the other hand, if you know you have some foundational review to complete for ACT English (e.g., grammar or sentence structure rules), give yourself more time. It’s a good idea to take at least one day a week off to give your brain some time to process, rest, and recharge.

However you decide to spread out your time, build your calendar for the entire month before you get started studying. Once your study calendar is done, you’re ready to begin.

ACT 1 Month Study Plan: Week 1

Week 1 is about assessing your baseline score—where are you starting from and how far do you need to go in your prep to reach your score goal?  

Take a full-length practice test in a single setting. Use the results of your first practice test to identify where you’ll focus your prep. What are your greatest areas of opportunity? For example, if you got most Algebra questions wrong, you’ll want to flag that area for a foundational review. Alternatively, if you only missed a few Data Representation questions on the Science Test, you might want to focus less on reviewing associated concepts and spend more time studying specific test-taking strategies for those question types. 

Here’s a step-by-step guide for Week 1:

  • Step 1: Take and score a full-length ACT practice test in a single sitting.
  • Step 2: Review your practice test, identifying your areas of opportunity. Reviewing the test should take at least as long as it took to take it. Start with the questions you got wrong first to identify where you could improve (Did you make a calculation error? Do you need to brush up on the concept?) Then, review the questions you got right, reading the explanation to see if there’s a quicker, more efficient strategy you could’ve employed to get to the right answer.
  • Step 3: Use the results of your practice test to govern your studying. Prep for each section of the test, reviewing/learning foundational concepts as needed, doing practice tests, and reviewing each question and explanation.

ACT 1 Month Study Plan: Week 2

Take another full-length practice test in a single sitting at the start of Week 2. If you got similar question types wrong as you did last week, you’ll really want to hone in on those areas this week. As you did last week, use your practice test results to decide which areas of each section you’ll focus on this week. Be sure to spend a fair amount of time learning and practicing test-taking strategies and methods for each section.

Here’s a step-by-step guide for Week 2:

  • Step 1: Take and score a full-length ACT practice test.
  • Step 2: Review your practice test.
  • Step 3: Follow your study calendar and prep for each section of the test.

ACT 1 Month Study Plan: Week 3

Two weeks to go until ACT Test Day! This should be the last week where you spend any time focusing on foundational material and concept review. If you’re still struggling with a particular concept (e.g., Functions), be sure to dive deeper. Use your practice test results to guide your studying as you did in Weeks 1 and 2.

The steps you’ll take in Week 3 are pretty much identical to those in Week 2:

  • Step 1: Take and score a full-length ACT practice test in a single sitting.
  • Step 2: Review your practice test.
  • Step 3: Study for each section of the test following your study calendar.

ACT 1 Month Study Plan: Week 4

It’s the week of the real thing! Be sure to still study this week, but to take the day or two off before Test Day. Do not try to cram. If you still haven’t grasped Functions, for example, you’re likely not going to get anywhere in the 24 hours leading up to the test.

Since this is the last week, you’ll want to focus on the areas where you know you can pick up some extra points. Work to perfect your performance on question types you are getting right at least 50-75% of the time, mixing foundational review and reviewing test-taking strategies.

Here’s what Week 4 should look like:

  • Step 1: Take and score a full-length ACT practice test in a single sitting.
  • Step 2: Review your practice test.
  • Step 3: Study for each section of the test, focusing on topics you haven’t yet mastered, but are getting right more than half the time. Spend time reviewing the test-taking strategies and methods you’ve learned over the course of the past month for each section.
  • Step 4: Take a day or two off before Test Day. Taking the ACT can be incredibly stressful, so let yourself rest and recharge. Don’t change up your routine in the days leading up to the test and on Test Day itself—go to bed at your usual time, each your regular breakfast, etc.
  • Step 5: Walk into the ACT confident in your preparation and crush it!

ACT 1 Month Study Plan: Prep Materials

 

  • ACT Prep Books

    Kaplan’s ACT Prep 2020 and ACT Prep Plus 2020 give you essential strategies, realistic practice, and expert advice. Both come with practice tests and online resources.

  • ACT Rapid Review Live

    ACT and Kaplan partnered to create last-minute courses to sharpen your skills. Available Live, On Demand, or both.

  • Take an ACT class

    Kaplan has classes Live Online to get you ready for the ACT in one month. Come to class from anywhere you have wifi. Expert teachers will keep you motivated—interactive learning lets you engage with a teacher for better results.

  • Get an ACT Tutor

    For the most personalized experience, work with an expert tutor who will get to know your specific needs and learning style. A tutor will work with you 1-1 to guide your prep, assessing how you can improve your performance with the time that you have.