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ACT Preparation

The ACT can be successfully studied for with careful, dedicated preparation. In other words, there is a strong correlation between the amount of time and effort spent preparing for the ACT and score improvement on the actual test. Our ACT methods and materials have been designed by accomplished tutors, writers, and educators. We put particular emphasis on clarity and brevity in our ACT materials; high schoolers have neither the time nor patience to work through guides hundreds of pages long and filled with gimmicky strategies. Our guide is specifically intended to be organized in a logical and straightforward way, first outlining how the test is organized and scored, before delving into each of the four sections: English, Math, Reading, and Science. (The ACT does include an optional, 40-minute Writing Section, although in nearly all cases we do not recommend that students prepare for or take this section.)

Our Approach to the ACT

Below is a condensed summary of what a student undergoes during ACT preparation with Odyssey:

  • Finding the Starting Line: We first work with students to arrive at a benchmark. This is usually found by administering an SAT/ACT diagnostic exam. We then grade the test, analyze the results, and compose a detailed score report.

  • An Introduction to the ACT: If it is clear from the diagnostic that your child will perform better on the ACT, we will work with them to prepare for that test. When we begin our review, we analyze how the ACT is organized and scored, and review concepts like order of difficulty, guessing, pacing, and other important strategies. 

  • Content and Concept Review: After reviewing the structure of the test, we thoroughly review each section of the ACT (English, Math, Reading, Science, and Writing). This includes going over strategies, shortcuts, and question types. It is during this phase of our review that we put particular emphasis on disciplined, targeted analysis of the types of questions found on the ACT. If there are apparent weaknesses in a student’s knowledge base (say, an aversion to triangle or percent problems in the Math section) then it is during this phase of studying that a concerted effort will be made to shore up these deficiencies.

  • Practice, Practice, Practice: Odyssey knows that reviewing questions under test-like conditions is one of the best ways to methodically improve scores and boost confidence. Knowing this, we have students take frequent practice tests to track progress, and ensure that students in our ACT programs have extensive resources for additional practice and review.

Our Expectations

We have high expectations for our students. While an excellent tutor can make a positive impact on even the most unmotivated of students, test preparation must be approached with a seriousness of purpose if it is to be transformative. Students will have homework, and we expect these assignments to be done carefully and thoroughly. We also expect students to be attentive and engaged during sessions. We understand that high school can be a busy, stressful time for students—but we require students to take their test preparation responsibilities seriously.

Length of Program

The length of an ACT program depends on a number of factors, including:

  • The needs of the student (as evidenced by the diagnostic/recent test scores);

  • The student’s goals for a final score;

  • The student’s own schedule and timeline for taking the test; and

  • The number of meetings the student and tutor have each week


We recommend a course of study totaling 24 tutoring hours (not including practice tests or homework that students are expected to complete between sessions). In lieu of or in addition to a package, individual meetings are also available. See below for a more thorough description of the ACT tutoring package.

ACT Tutoring Package


Length: 24 hours (12, 2-hour sessions)


Course Description: This comprehensive course carefully reviews the strategies and techniques needed to excel on the ACT. This course is tailored specifically to the testing strengths and weaknesses of your child—we will spend the most time and effort on sections that give him or her the most trouble. With these strategies and skills in hand, your child will be armed to tackle even the most difficult questions on the test. This package includes:

  • A personalized study plan, along with practice and review materials;

  • A proctored SAT/ACT Diagnostic (if necessary);

  • Written session summaries after every meeting;

  • Proctored practice tests

Who it's designed for: Students looking for thorough preparation for an upcoming ACT. If your child has an ACT coming up in 12 to 16 weeks, we're here to help. We have an excellent track record of results and are committed to delivering superior outcomes for your child on the ACT.

About the ACT

The ACT is a 2 hour and 55 minute test divided into five sections: a 45-minute English test, 60-minute Math test, 35-minute Reading test, and 35-minute Science test. Each section on the test is scored from a 1 to 36. The national average on the test hovers around a 20, with a perfect score of 36 putting you in the 99th percentile. Below is a brief summary of each section found on the ACT:

  • ENGLISH: The English Test consists of a 45-minute test with 75 questions. These questions generally focus on two types of questions: 1) usage and mechanics (issues such as commas, apostrophes, fragments, and run-ons come up in this section) and 2) rhetorical skills, which include questions relating to writing strategy, organization, and style. You will not be tested on spelling, vocabulary, or specific rules of grammar in this section.

  • MATH: The Math Section of the ACT consists of a 60-minute, 60-question test. The question breakdown is roughly as follows: 24 questions on Pre-Algebra/Elementary Algebra; 18 questions on Intermediate Algebra/Geometry; and 18 questions on Plane Geometry/Trigonometry.

  • READING: The Reading Test consists of 40 questions to be answered in 35 minutes. There are four passages in the section: one from Prose Fiction, another from the Humanities, a third from Social Studies, and a fourth passage from the Natural Sciences (which includes biology, chemistry, physics, or the physical sciences). Questions on the Reading Test fall into two broad categories of questions: referring questions and reasoning questions. Referring questions ask about information that is clearly stated in the passage, while reasoning questions ask you to make connections or inferences about material that may either be stated or implied in the passage.

  • SCIENCE: The Science Test asks you to answer 40 questions in 35 minutes. Prior knowledge of science is not required to answer these questions, although these questions measure the interpretation, analysis, evaluation, and problem-solving skills associated with science. The test is made up of seven units, each consisting of a passage with scientific information followed by several multiple-choice questions. There are three data representation passages with 5 questions following each passage, 3 research summary passages with 6 questions each, and 1 conflicting viewpoints passage with 7 questions.

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