I thought I would share a little about my ACT experience and advice while procrastinating on my college essays.
So I took the ACT three times: Feb, Jun, and Jul.
My Feb. score got canceled (bogus proctor), which if you want to know more about, message me.
But I retook my ACT in June and got a 36 (breakdown: 36, 36, 36, 34), and 8 on the essay.
So before my June score came out, I was freaking out because I thought it was terribly hard and definitely did bad on it, so I immediately signed up for my July ACT. After my June score came out, I still decided to take the July one because I didn't like my essay score. My July one was a 36, also (breakdown: 36, 36, 36, 36, 36) and I got an 11 on the essay.
So I hope my advice will be helpful since I def had some tricks and tips to score high...
So one of the main reasons, I think, that my essay improved so much was because of my essay length. I did almost no ACT practice between my June and July tests, and to practice for essays, I just read a few sample ones. However, my June essay was two and a half pages, while my July essay, I filled up the entire four pages they give you.
Remember that each grader spends maybe 2-3 minutes on each essay while grading, so first impressions play a big role. At first glance, if your essay seems long, graders will most likely think that you know what you're talking about and give you a higher score.
With that said, length isn't everything: content and style easily trump length in importance. With that, I just recommend you plan ahead before writing and really think through what you want to say, because time passes super fast and its better if you have an idea before setting your pencil on paper and going for it.
For math, it's just practice. I have no other advice. The ACT has a certain style of questions they constantly use and reuse, and if you do enough problems, you'll be familiar with the question formats.
For reading and science, I recommend that you also do plenty of practice sets. I did enough science that I could go directly to the problems without looking at the article and be able to figure out answers just by glancing at graphs. Both reading and science are all about speed (and pacing) so it's critical you set a pace for yourself and you're familiar with how many minutes you can use for each article. I recommend reading through each article for the reading portion and don't just skim, try to retain as much info as you can the first time around so you don't have to go back to the piece (except for line references, of course).
For Language Arts: Again, practice, practice, practice. LA isn't about content at all. Sure, in the end, you're always asked a few content-based questions in the end, but those are always incredibly easy. During this section, your eyes should always to drawn directly to where the number is and what is underlined. Focus only on the question, and don't try to read through the entire article (or skim quickly). Similar to math, LA always has certain formats of questions, so familiarize yourself with them so you know how to answer each type.
Hope this was helpful! Good luck to my juniors and sophomores out there!
Feel free to ask me any questions; I'll be happy to answer any.
Lots of love~