What to Do After a Bad ACT Test Day

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3 min read

Everyone has days when things just don’t go as planned. Unfortunately, sometimes these days happen when you’re taking the ACT. With the weight ACT scores can hold in the college admissions process, a lower than expected ACT score can be upsetting. After a bad ACT test day it’s important to identify ways to improve, plan for an exam retake, and strategize a study regimen.

While a bad ACT test day can be unnerving, there are steps you can take to work toward future success. Keep reading to learn what to do after a bad ACT test day.

Determine how you can improve after a bad ACT test day

While it can be tempting to immediately move on after a poor ACT test day, it’s important to stop and evaluate your experience. Make a list of all the things that went right while taking the ACT, as well as a list of all the things that went differently than you hoped they would. These could be as varied as the time you went to bed the day before the exam, to the subjects in which you would like to gain more confidence. By identifying your strengths and weaknesses, you can better prepare for your next exam.  

[RELATED: What is an Average ACT Score?]

Strategize about your next exam after a bad ACT test day

If you feel that you’ve performed poorly on the ACT, consider scheduling a second exam. The ACT is offered seven times each year, in September, October, December, February, April, June, and July. Registering again soon after a poor performance can be a good motivator to get prepared for your next ACT test. It’s often a lot easier to build off of what you’ve learned while studying for your first ACT, as opposed to taking a lengthy break between exams and beginning the study process again.

Implement a study regimen after a bad ACT test day

Take a look at your list of ACT strengths and weaknesses to identify the areas where you have achieved success and the concepts where you need a stricter focus. Then, look at the time you have between now and your next ACT in order to put in place a successful study plan.

The key to effectively studying for the ACT is to stick to your study schedule. While it can be challenging at times to stay focused, promote study success by:

  • Allotting realistic time each day to study
  • Scheduling regular study breaks to prevent burnout
  • Organizing your study sessions to focus on specific subjects and concepts

Think positively after a bad ACT test day

It’s natural to feel a bit disappointed after scoring lower than expected on the ACT. It’s important, though, to keep your exam in perspective. You choose which ACT score to send to colleges—reassure yourself that with a study plan in place, your goal ACT score can be achieved.