How to deal with ACT stress, anxiety


Photo: Cheyene Howell

Over 1.6 million American teens are potentially stressed out each year taking the ACT.

At Ada High School, a lot of students are stressing out about the upcoming ACT. Junior Jonathan Cloar is one of those who worries when preparing for the ACT.

“I get very stressed out but just deal with it. I don’t do much. I just try to distract myself from it until it happens,” said Cloar.

The ACT is a big part of the high school experience and can affect a student’s graduation and college opportunities. So, what is the best way to handle ACT stress?

For Cloar, preparation helps.

“Be sure to ask all of your teachers for what to study for that section of the ACT, or look up online for ACT prep,” said Cloar.

If Cloar’s methods of dealing with the stress don’t work for you, here are ten more things you can try to reduce the amount of anxiety and induce more calmness.

1. Be sure to take breaks in between study sessions.

When you are studying for the test be sure to take breaks in between because without stopping for short periods, your brain can freak out and cause you to stress even more. Also, do not study on the day before the ACT because it can lower your performance levels when you are taking the test.

2. Be ready and completely prepared for the ACT beforehand.

One way to reduce your anxiety levels is to think out your game plan. This helps because instead of going into the ACT blind, you can realize which tactics are the most useful and how to get through it with less struggles weighing you down.

3. Be sure to get a good amount of sleep before the test.

A good amount of sleep can definitely help your testing process because it can help you focus on what needs to be done. A lack of sleep can harm you and your test score. The ACT is a very long process that takes up to about five hours, and those hours feel longer and longer as the testing process continues. A good night’s sleep will help combat fatigue during the test.

4. Eat a good breakfast before the ACT.
A good breakfast before the ACT can help you in the long run. According to, “it’s a proven fact that breakfast improves your concentration, mood, and memory.” When you skip breakfast, a growling stomach can bother you and others during the testing process.

5. Keep breathing and stay calm during the testing process.
When you are taking the test, keep breathing and don’t stress. According to, “this helps activate your parasympathetic nervous system, whose job it is to calm you down.” Try not to panic beforehand, during, or after the test because if you do, it can affect your testing process by putting your focus on how you can hold it back more than what you put out.

6. Stay focused on the task at hand and ignore the distractions around you.

When taking the ACT, there are a lot of distractions that can keep you away from focusing on the task at hand. Don’t think about the others going faster than you, just worry about what you are doing and ignore them.

How many times do you plan to take the ACT exam?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

7. Know that you can keep retaking it and get better of a score.

According to, “if you are not happy with your test scores, you can keep retaking it.” Many students get upset after receiving their score, which isn’t always as high as they wanted it to be. But the most important thing to remember is that you can keep retaking it and get a better score next time, since you know what type of material is on the test.

8. Study your worst subjects.

As a student, you probably have some subjects that aren’t your favorites because of your understanding or the way that you have been taught. In this case, you should either talk to your teacher or look the problem up online. This may help you understand the many different ways to go about solving the problem, allowing you to find the way that works best for you. Classes have limited amounts of time for you to ask questions, and sometimes you need more help. Don’t be afraid to ask for it.

9. Don’t doubt your knowledge and stick with your gut.

Make sure you understand the type of question before taking a random guess as there are likely other problems using the same strategies/methods as that problem. Use your prior knowledge and then trust yourself to make the best decision.

10. Don’t hesitate and persevere.

Don’t waste all your time stuck on one question. Choose the best answer and move on. It won’t do you any good to dwell. If you are running out of time, fill in bubbles. This will at least give you a chance at getting some correct answers.

When the ACT rolls around, don’t let stress weigh you down. Try these 10 stress-relieving tips and maybe you will be a little more calm and tranquil before and during the test.