The ACT for Bad Test Takers A revolutionary approach to tackling the ACT exam

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Success begins with learning the strategies that are effective on the ACT. Students think they are ‘bad at taking tests,’ but they’ve been approaching them the wrong way. The ACT for Bad Test Takers was designed to remedy this.

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“When I first heard this strategy, I thought the instructor was insane. But I gave it a shot, and I’m so glad I did. I increased my score by 10 points and was accepted into Emory University! Thank you so much!!” –Sandra M.

“Standardized tests are not my strong suit. But this strategy changed everything for me. It helped me get into my first-choice school. Give the strategy a chance, and it will do the same for you!” –Margaret M.

“My score jumped from a 29 to a 33 thanks to these strategies. I recommend it to all juniors and sophomores who are planning to take the ACT.” –Sadie C.

“The Bad Test Takers approach is a huge eye-opener. I’ve never seen anything like it. I would definitely recommend this strategy to anyone who wants to do well on the ACT.” –Ishaan V.

“I have no idea where I would be without this strategy. It got me into college. I went from a 16 to a 23. If you put in time and diligence, it will definitely work for you!” –Marc G.

Click the icons below to read how our strategy will help for each subject area of the ACT!


Most high school students don’t prepare much for the ACT, but even those who do will turn their focus primarily to content. In other words, they’ll concentrate solely on learning topics such as the rules of standard comma usage or the difference between who and whom.

Isn’t content important? Of course, it is. Not obtaining a basic grasp of specific aspects of English grammar, usage, and mechanics will considerably diminish your potential score. If you’re unable to spot a comma splice when you see one, you’re likely to lose a number of score points just for that.

But before you delve into the details of the test questions and the hours of practice needed to truly maximize your performance on the ACT, consider whether you have a game plan for attacking the test. Most test takers simply register for the test, maybe do a little bit of practice, and just hope for the best. But isn’t your ACT score much too important to rest your performance on mere hope? We think so, especially when there’s a much better way to prepare.

We can teach you to think tactically about the test. We’ll tell you the truth about how the ACT is scored, what you should know about the its structure, where and how to practice for the test, why you should abandon certain ideas about tests that you picked up in school, and much more.

But most importantly, we’ll show you how to implement our unique strategy for harnessing this information so that you can use it to your advantage. In other words, we’ll show you how to start thinking like a smart test taker.

Here’s an example. The English section of the ACT, which contains 75 questions, allows test takers 45 minutes to complete it. When we ask our students if that’s fair, most of them immediately respond that it is clearly unfair. Why? Is it really so clear? The truth is that it isn’t, but most students operate under the belief that, for a test to be fair, you should at least have one minute per question. Since the English section allows, on average, less than a minute per question, many students rush to brand it “unfair.”

If you think about it, though, one minute per question as a standard of fairness is pretty arbitrary. If we gave you a test of ten questions in Swedish (assuming, of course, that you don’t know Swedish) and allowed you ten minutes to complete it, that would be horribly unfair. On the other hand, if we gave you a 26-minute test that asks you to name the letters of the English alphabet, you would have a ridiculous amount of extra time.

For each test, to truly assess “fairness,” what really matters is the level of difficulty of the questions and the amount of time required, on average, to answer them. In our opinion, the English section turns out to be the most fair section on the ACT in terms of time because the average question requires about 30 seconds or less to answer.


Many students dread taking the Math section of the ACT most of all. But most students, even those who do extremely well on the Math section, overestimate the amount of math knowledge needed to do well and underestimate the extent to which learning how to think resourcefully can elevate your score. But before you review when and how to apply the Pythagorean theorem, for example (which is always tested on the ACT Math section, by the way), first ask yourself whether you have a clear and proven attack plan for what you need to do on test day (in every section, not just the Math) in order to reach your target score. Unfortunately, most students have no such plan.

Most students, in fact, don’t even have a clear picture of what they’ll be up against on test day. We had one student, for instance, who, when we started working with her, didn’t know the order in which the four sections appear on the ACT (or even that there are four sections, for that matter). We eventually straightened her out, of course, and she went on to earn scores in the 30s in every section. But our point is that the number of students who are truly familiar with the test and think about it strategically is remarkably low.

Ask yourself these questions: Are you familiar with the format of the test? How many questions does the Math section contain? How much time do you get to answer these questions? Is the Math section broken up into parts? What aspects distinguish the Math section from the other three?

Most importantly, though, ask yourself how you can use the answers to these questions to your advantage on test day. If you’re not sure, that’s where we can help. We specialize in teaching our students to think completely differently about the ACT.

Our strategies go far beyond the general, mostly obvious tips you often hear from others. (Here’s one that always comes up: “When you’re stuck, try using process of elimination.” Really? Is that a cutting-edge technique? And isn’t eliminating wrong answer choices something you should do even when you’re not stuck?) We teach a concrete, analytical plan that will show you how to approach the ACT like a smart test taker.

If you consider yourself a bad test taker, this is definitely something you don’t want to miss!


When we described the English section, we mentioned the “one minute per question” standard most students use and decided that it was arbitrary. What about the ACT’s time constraint on the Reading section? Is it fair? In our opinion, it’s not. In fact, we think this is the most unfair section on the ACT in terms of timing. Let’s take a closer look and see why.

On the Reading section, you’re given 35 minutes to answer 40 questions. But what makes this section challenging is that you have to read through four lengthy (and often dense) passages to find the answers to these questions.

To get an idea of how aggressively-timed the ACT Reading is, let’s say that you’re actually given 36 minutes. We know that’s not actually the case, but it will make the math easier. Dividing 36 minutes by four, you get nine minutes to complete each passage. But we actually have a little less than nine minutes on average per passage (because we really have 35 minutes, not 36).

Now, take a look at one of the passages in the Reading section of a real ACT test, if you haven’t already. (Links to free practice ACT tests on the web can be found on our Resources page.) How long do you think it would take you just to read one of those? We think the average American high school student needs roughly five minutes to read one of those passages, leaving less than four minutes to answer all ten (often deceptively tricky) questions about that passage. That’s less than 30 seconds to read, to think through (including often having to refer back to the text), and to choose your answer to each question. And this doesn’t even factor in the time you’ll need to bubble in your choices on the answer sheet.

But while there are many students who agree with us that the timing is unfair, there are always some students who tell us that the Reading section doesn’t really give them any problems and that they just naturally do very well on that section. Strange? Not really. What we have found is that these students are “readers.” They read for fun, and they’ve made a habit of reading for most of their lives, so they read relatively quickly. These students aren’t as affected by the time constraint on this section, because, in essence, they started preparing for the Reading section of the ACT when they were very young – they just didn’t know it.

If you’re one of these students, you have a great advantage that will really serve you on the Reading section of the ACT. But if you’re not, don’t worry. You can still develop your reading efficiency through practice, but we can also show you how to strategically reduce the time pressure you’ll experience on this test and still improve your score.


Like the Reading, the Science section contains 40 questions that must be answered in 35 minutes. Also like the Reading, the Science section is very aggressively timed. Some may see this as a coincidence, but we don’t. If you learn to view this test strategically, you pick up on its patterns.

We often have students who absolutely despise the Science section because they feel that they don’t know much science. Few students realize, however, that the amount of actual science knowledge you need to do well on this section is extremely minimal (it’s almost none, actually).

The Science section is very different from the kinds of science test you might encounter in school, and students who do well in school often struggle with this section the most. In fact, as crazy as it may sound, having a strong background in the scientific field that the questions are testing can sometimes actually distract you and slow you down on this test. Instead, the Science section is more of a psychological battle, in which the content repeatedly deceives you into thinking that scientific knowledge is necessary to get the answers right.

But knowing about the content of the Science section is only a part of what is needed to improve your performance on it. Understanding how the ACT has chosen to structure this section can be hugely advantageous in forming a detailed game plan of what to do and what not do in order to maximize your score.

Don’t let the Science section frustrate you. Let us show you how we’ve taught hundreds of students to shed their fear of this section by completely changing how they tackle it. Let our unique approach help you get the score you deserve.