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Test PrepACTMath

ACT Math

So many students approach the ACT Math Test with an unhealthy amount of fear or anxiety. Familiarizing yourself with the format of the ACT math questions and developing a plan of attack for them will help you overcome this and achieve your desired score.

The Breakdown

The ACT Math Test is a 60-minute test with 60 multiple-choice questions. You’ll receive a single score of 1-36 based on your performance, along with three subscores for Pre-Algebra/Elementary Algebra, Intermediate Algebra/Coordinate Geometry and Plane Geometry/Trigonometry.

The questions are designed to test your problem-solving abilities in topics—arithmetic, algebra, geometry and trigonometry—that are generally covered in the math classes taken by most students in their first three years of high school. A detailed breakdown of the types of questions follows:

  • Pre-Algebra/Elementary Algebra (24 questions)
    • pre-algebra (23%)
    • elementary algebra (17%)
  • Intermediate Algebra/Coordinate Geometry (18 questions)
    • intermediate algebra (15%)
    • coordinate geometry (15%)
  • Plane Geometry/Trigonometry (18 questions)
    • plane geometry (23%)
    • trigonometry (7%)

Strategy Talk

Although you will be tested on your knowledge of these subjects, it is your ability to apply what you have learned that will determine your success. Many of the formulas that you will need are provided for you. Therefore, simply memorizing said formulas and their corresponding equations is not enough. You must understand how to employ and manipulate them in order to arrive at the correct answers.

You’ll want to develop a consistent approach for each question type. With practice, you should be able to size up a question and quickly determine your problem-solving method(s), as well as understand how difficult and/or time-consuming it will be to solve. A great approach is to use a two-pass system: tackling those problems you have the ability to solve and then, as time permits, circling back to tackle those which are more difficult for you. However, always be sure to answer every question, even if it means filling in a random choice for some.

Preparation Tips

Your preparation should happen in three phases. First, you’ll want to review the math concepts most commonly tested on the ACT. Next, you’ll want to develop your approach to tackling them. And, finally, you’ll obviously want/need to do some practice problems.

Effective practice encompasses not only doing lots of practice problems, but also reviewing and redoing problems that you’ve missed. After all, it’s important to understand where you made a mistake or fell into a trap so you can learn to avoid it the next time. The most common math topics are covered in our Review and Practice area. Start with these and then practice the areas in which you struggle the most.


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Don Munce