Saving money while increasing your ACT score

Lynn Weishaupt, Staff Writer

            Joe Charger, like many students, woke up two Saturdays ago and took the ACT. Many thoughts were running through his mind throughout this past year in anticipation of the ACT. “What if I get a low score? What if I don’t get into the college of my first choice? What if I don’t get the career I want? What if I end up living with my parents forever?” Like many students, his fears of the ACT may have been from not feeling prepared. There are many ways to prepare for the ACT, but those ways are not very cost-effective to certain families. However, there is good news. Mr. Hamilton, English teacher and ACT prep. Moderator at St. Joseph High School, has some helpful tips on how to prepare for the ACT while saving some money.

            Since this is an all laptop school, we have some helpful resources at our disposal. Mr. Hamilton said, “Check out” They have very helpful practice tests and reading sections. The reading practice test gives examples of the four different types of reading passages that are on the ACT. This website ( has other helpful practice as well, including an ACT question of the day and they also tell you the right answer and why the wrong answers are in fact incorrect. They provide practice tests and questions in every subject as well as helpful tips and rules for the ACT. Mr. Hamilton was also kind enough to provide more practice tests and strategies for taking the ACT. (

            Mr. Hamilton also suggests going to a Barnes & Noble for one whole day and reading an ACT prep book. They have a café and an area to read the books they have without buying them. Don’t forget to bring a notebook. Libraries are also good places to go for free information. Remember there is a specific amount of time for each section, so time is important especially during the reading portion.  Many students think it’s better to look at the questions first and then read the passage. On the contrary, Mr. Hamilton suggests the opposite. “You won’t be reading and remember ‘Oh, this is the answer to number eleven.’ Your brain just doesn’t work that way,” he said. If there’s a really difficult question, skip it and go back if you have time.

            Right now is a good time to start reading everything. Reading everything you can get your hands on helps improves vocabulary and it teaches different writing styles. Mr. Hamilton said, “If you can read the test, you can pass the test.” To elaborate, he means that if you know the types of questions that will be asked, then you can find the answers while you’re reading. It’s helpful to underline or circle terms, dates, and important facts in the reading passage because the questions will most likely pertain to those things.

            The night before the ACT, get at least nine hours of sleep. In the morning, eat a light breakfast with low sugar. Eating too much, or too much sugar, can result in your brain power focusing on digesting instead of the test. Mr. Hamilton says, “ABSOLUTELY DO NOT DRINK A 5 HOUR ENERGY.” Apparently, it has way too much caffeine and makes you lose focus. A weird fact Mr. Hamilton said was to chew gum while studying for the ACT because chewing gum increases blood flow to your brain which improves long-term memory. The only trick is that in order for it to work, you have to chew gum during the ACT. Through extensive research, chewing gum seems to be legal.

            There are many resources available at our hands. We have the internet, the library, and of course, Mr. Hamilton. There are definitely many ways to prepare for the ACT, but these tips are the most cost-efficient.