ACT Math: Everything You Need to Know

ACT Math: Everything You Need to Know

In ACT Math, you have 60 minutes to answer 60 questions, which is not much time to think about each question or figure it out. Therefore, you must have a thorough understanding of each area of the ACT math exam and a quick recall of how to answer each question type before you step into the exam room.

What do you need to know about the ACT Math test? What areas of study does it cover? How do you get the best score possible on the ACT Math test?

Stay tuned to get all the answers you need to make your ACT math test a success!

Quick ACT Math Overview

ACT Math tests the knowledge that you should have learned during your junior year of high school, specifically, Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1 & 2, Geometry, Trigonometry, and Advanced Math. If you haven’t completed any of these subjects yet, it may be challenging to succeed in the ACT exam.

The ACT math tests your understanding of these subjects and not just your ability to solve standard questions. Therefore, you must first unravel the questions in the test to figure out the underlying problem that needs to be solved so they can fully ensure you are not just memorizing formulas and answers.

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ACT Math Test Format

As already mentioned, the test is 60 minutes long and has 60 multi-choice questions you must answer. The general rule is that questions get progressively more challenging as you go through the test; however that could depend on where your strengths of each area are.

The test does not group questions together. So, for example, you won’t get a block of Algebra questions, then move on to Geometry questions; this means they will be somewhat evenly spaced throughout the test and make you shift your thinking between different areas of math included in the test.

You may bring almost any 4-function, scientific, or graphing calculator. However, the ACT provides a specific list of prohibited calculators. You don’t need a calculator to complete the test, but it’s not going to hurt your chances.

Have a look at top calculators for the ACT Math Test, to find the best calculator you can use for the ACT.

How is ACT Math scored?

You will be given a score between 1 and 36, which will average how many questions you got right out of 60.

You are not scored lower for incorrect answers, so no matter what, you should not leave any question unanswered; even if you have no idea, it’s worth a shot to guess.

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What Math do you need to know?

The ACT math test is split into 3 primary sections, with each section testing various areas of math.

Preparing for Higher Mathematics (up to 60% of all questions)

This section will cover your knowledge of Geometry, Statistics and Probability, Functions, Algebra 1 & 2, and Numbers and Quantity.

More specifically, you’ll need knowledge of the areas below:

Geometry4-sided shapes. Area. Area & circumference. Area of a parallelogram. Area of a trapezoid. Area of embedded shapes. Chords. Circles. Diagonals. Ellipses. Equilateral triangle properties. Interior angle of a polygon formula. Internal angles of a parallelogram. Isosceles triangle properties. Polygons. Pythagorean Theorem. Radius and diameter. Rectangle area & perimeter. Right triangle properties. Rule of 180. Sectors, interior angles, & arcs. Similar triangles. Special right triangles. Tangent lines. Triangles. Trigonometry.
Statistics & ProbabilityPatterns & sequences. Percent change. Probability formula.
FunctionsComposition of functions. Graph functions. Solve functions.
Algebra 1 & 2Combinations & permutations. Distance formula. Exponential decay & growth. Factorial. Imaginary numbers & complex numbers. Linear equations (solving & graphing). Logarithms. Matrices. Midpoint formula. Parallel lines. Perpendicular lines. Polynomials. Radicals. Range & domain. Slope. Slope intercept form. Systems of equations. Unit circle. Vectors.
Number and QuantityAbsolute value. Adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, & fractions. Number properties. Scientific notation.

Integrating Essential Skills (up to 40% of all questions)

This section covers your understanding of Pre-Algebra, Rates, and Percentages, Ratios, and Proportions, Volume – Surface Area – Area, Average, and Median.

More specifically, you’ll need knowledge of the areas below:

Pre-AlgebraThe area of shapes. Decimals. Inequalities. Mean, median, & mode. Percentages. The perimeter of shapes. Ratios Solving equations & expressions. The surface area of 3-D shapes. Types of numbers. The volume of 3-D shapes.

Modeling (up to 25% of all questions)

This section requires you to produce, interpret, understand, evaluate, and improve models.

More specifically, you’ll need knowledge of the areas below:

ModelingAnalyze graphs, charts, figures, & other data. Exponential equations.` Linear equations.

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How do you improve your score?

The key to improving your score is to follow a few simple steps.

  • Answer all questions you are confident in first, don’t spend more than 60 seconds on each question initially. Then, once you’ve reviewed all questions, go back to the harder ones.
  • You aren’t marked on how you answer a question; just get the correct answer. So use whatever method works best for you in each situation.
  • Pull the actual equations out of the questions being asked. Ignore the story or extra padding in the question; just find the actual equation you need to answer.
  • Memorize essential formulas you will need for the areas covered in the test. You will not be able to bring them in, and they will not be provided to you.
  • Leading up to the test, ensure you review all sections covered and ensure they’re all fresh in your mind, especially those areas you learned in previous years and haven’t used recently.

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More from Effortless Math for ACT Test …

Are you looking for a FREE ACT Math course to help you prepare for your test?

Check out our Ultimate ACT Math Course.

Need Math worksheets to help you measure your exam readiness for your upcoming ACT test?

Have a look at our comprehensive ACT Math Worksheets to help you practice and prepare for the ACT Math test.

Want to review the most common ACT Math formula?

Here is our complete list of ACT Math formulas.

Looking for FREE ACT Math websites to find free online resources?

Here is our complete list of Top 10 Free Websites for ACT Math Preparation.

Need a practice test to help you improve your ACT Math score?

Have a look at our Full-Length ACT Math Practice Test and Free ACT Math Practice Test.

Do you know the key differences between SAT Math and ACT Math?

Find your answer here: SAT Math vs. ACT Math: the key differences.

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