Strategies for the ACT Math Test
The ACT Math Test is comprised of 60 multiple choice questions and you will have 60 minutes to complete it.
A typical ACT Math Test includes:
33 Algebra Questions:
- 14 pre-algebra questions covering math vocabulary, basic number theory and manipulation of fractions and decimals.
- 10 elementary algebra questions covering inequalities, linear equations, ratios, percentages and averages.
- Nine intermediate algebra questions covering exponents, roots, simultaneous equations, matrices and quadratic equations.
23 Geometry Questions:
- 14 plane geometry questions based on angles, lengths, triangles, quadrilaterals, circles, perimeter, area and volume.
- Nine coordinate geometry questions based on slope, distance, midpoint, parallel and perpendicular lines, and graphing.
Four Trigonometry Questions:
- Four questions based on basic sine, cosine and tangent functions, trig identities and graphing.
Calculators are allowed on the ACT. Your calculator cannot have a QWERTY keyboard, like a TI-95, but you can and should use a scientific or graphing calculator. You want your calculator to be able to use parentheses, graph simple functions and convert fractions to decimals.
The questions on the ACT Math Test are in order from easiest to hardest, but you should skip any questions that you know you can't answer right away — circle them and come back to them later.
You can use process of elimination on Math Test answer choices by crossing out answers that are way out of the ballpark of the question. At The Princeton Review, we call this strategy “ballparking." For example, if the question asks you to calculate a percentage that is less than 100, you can cross out any answer choice that is greater than the integer provided in the question. If all the numbers in a question are odd, it's highly unlikely that the answer will be an even multiple of ten.
Step by Step
Break complicated math problems into bite-sized pieces. Write down what you're doing after each step and check to see if you can eliminate any wrong answers before you've finished solving the problem. This is especially helpful on intermediate algebra questions.
Don't let the time limit stress you out or you'll make careless mistakes. A solid prep plan and plenty of practice will help you conquer the big day with confidence.