ACT Math Breakdown

·         The ACT Math Test is the only ACT test with five answer choices. The English, Reading and Science tests all have four answer choices.

·         For odd numbered questions, students are given the following answer choices: A, B, C, D, and E. For even numbered questions, students are given the answer choices:  F, G, H, J, and K.

·         All of the other sections include D or J as the last answer choice. Don’t confuse the ACT Math E or K answers with D or J!

·         On the official ACT score report, the student will receive an overall ACT Math score between 1 and 36. There will be three subscores as well: Pre-Algebra/Elementary Algebra, Intermediate Algebra/Coordinate Geometry, Plane Geometry/Trigonometry.

·         Most students would have completed all math included on the ACT by the end of 11th grade.

·         The questions progress from easy to difficult. There are 60 questions and students must finish in 60 minutes. A good idea is to limit 30 seconds on the first 20 questions, 1 minute on the next 20 questions, and 90 seconds on the final 20 questions. The last 10-15 questions are usually the most difficult and the student will want to save more time for these. It’s also when the student is the most fatigued on the math section.

·         There are three main types of ACT Math questions: word problems, basic problems, and challenging problems. Word problems are hidden using certain vocabulary. Students shouldn’t be scared, but instead, translate the words into a basic problem. Use the extra space in the test booklet! Basic problems are really short and normally the easiest. These problems are straightforward and to the point. The challenging problems are direct, yet require a deeper level of reasoning. Some might be really short like a basic problem: p2 + q2 = -2pq, what is the value of p?

Tips for maximizing scores:

·         Go after the easy to medium questions first. These are the least time consuming and it’s still worth one point, just like the difficult questions!

·         Guess on any remaining questions. There is no reason to leave any questions blank. There is no penalty for incorrect answers. With about one minute to go, students should fill out all remaining bubbles.

·         Don’t get bummed out. Students tend to get into a problem then become frustrated. What they thought was easy has turned out to be difficult. It is best to move on and not waste any time doing this. Students are working for just one point per problem.

·         If you finish early, make a second pass on those that were skipped. Focus on the ones that you think may be the easiest to answer. These will be closer to the beginning of the test. Try to eliminate answer choices and make an educated guess.

·         Work problems backwards. You can plug in answer choices and use them to your advantage. Answers are there for you to use in your arsenal.

·         Utilize the process of elimination. Since there is no penalty for answering incorrectly, guess as best as you can. However, before guessing randomly, work to eliminate answer choices. Eliminating answer choices increases your chance of answering the problem correctly.

·         Use all test booklet white space for figuring. Don’t try to attempt everything in your head!

·         If you know the test, you won’t have to waste precious time reading the instructions on test day.    

·         A couple ACT Math questions, per test administration, usually contain information that is obsolete to answering the question.