ACT Math Prep Test Tips

act math prep

ACT math prep only needs to involve a small amount of trigonometry.

The ACT math section consists of 60 questions to be completed in 60 minutes. The ACT math test is designed to test the mathematical skills of students acquired in courses up to the start of 12th grade.

The good news is that you can “catch up” if you didn’t take the most advanced math classes offered at your school and do plenty well enough to qualify for admission to the vast majority of colleges with only a moderate amount of ACT math preparation.

All questions are multiple choice, and all require you to use reasoning skills to solve practical mathematical problems. Most questions are completely separate from each other, however some may belong to sets of several questions (e.g., several questions based on the same graph). Knowledge of complex formulas are not required, however knowledge of basic formulas and computational skills are assumed as background for the problems. Calculators are permitted on this section.

The Four Scores Collected for the ACT Math Test

  1. Total test score (x/60)
  2. Pre-Algebra/Elementary Algebra sub-score (x/24)
  3. Intermediate Algebra/Coordinate Geometry sub-score (x/18)
  4. Plane Geometry/Trigonometry sub-score (x/18)


ACT Math Prep Test Tips

  • Pace yourself – There’s 60 questions, and 60 minutes to complete them all. It’s strongly advised not to spend more than 1 minute per question. If possible, spend less than 1 minute on each question, and use the remaining time at the end to review your work and return to the more difficult questions.
  • Use your calculator wisely – If you use a calculator, keep in mind that all of the math problems can be solved without using one. Use good judgment to decide when and when not to use a calculator. Sometimes, it may make more sense to you to use scratch paper to clear your thoughts before you start crunching numbers electronically.
  • Solve the problem – Writing space for working out problems is normally available on the ACT test booklet, but remember you will also be provided with scratch paper. It is recommended that you do not work backwards from the answer choices, as it wastes a lot of precious time.
  • Locate the solution – Once you’ve figured out the answer, look for it from the choices given. If you can’t find it, carefully re-read the problem and see if you overlooked any information.
  • Be sure to answer the question – Many questions on the ACT math section require multiple steps of calculations. Often times there will be answer choices which are based on incomplete solutions. 6. Use common judgment – An error in computing can sometimes produce an answer which doesn’t seem practically possible for the situation. Always think about your answer before moving on. 7. Check your answers – If there is time after you’ve answered all the questions, it is a must re-read the questions and check your answers to make sure they are correct.

The Six Sections of the ACT Math Test

  1. Pre-Algebra (23%) – Based on basic operations using whole numbers, decimals, fractions, and integers; place values; square roots and approximations; the concept of exponents; scientific notation; factors; ratio, proportion, and percent; linear equations in one variable; absolute value and ordering numbers by value and ordering numbers by value.
  2. Elementary Algebra (17%) – Questions based on properties of exponents and square roots, evaluation of algebraic expressions through substitution, using variables to express functional relationships, understanding algebraic operations, and the solution of quadratic equations by factoring.
  3. Intermediate Algebra (15%) – Questions based on understanding of the quadratic formula, rational and radical expressions, absolute value equations and inequalities, sequence and patterns, systems of equations, quadratic inequalities, functions, modeling, matrices, roots of polynomials, and complex numbers.
  4. Coordinate Geometry (15%) – Questions based on graphing and the relations between equations and graphs, including points, lines, polynomials, circles, and other curves; graphing inequalities; slope; parallel and perpendicular lines; distance; midpoints; and conics.
  5. Plane Geometry (23%) – Questions based on the properties and relations of plane figures, including angles and relations among perpendicular and parallel lines; properties of circles, triangles, rectangles, parallelograms, and trapezoids; transformations; the concept of proof and proof techniques; volume; and applications of geometry to three dimensions.
  6. Trigonometry (7%) – Questions based on understanding trigonometric relations in right triangles; values and properties of trigonometric functions; graphing trigonometric functions; modeling using trigonometric functions; use of trigonometric identities; and solving trigonometric equations.

Math Quiz

Complete questions using multiple choice