The American College Testing Organization or ACT is a standardized test that measures student skills in five main areas: English, math, reading, science, and writing (optional). Students in grades 11 and 12 take the ACT to send their grades to colleges as part of the college application process. The ACT has 215 multiple-choice questions with 1 optional essay. The total test time for ACT without writing is 2 hours and 55 minutes and for ACT with writing is 3 hours and 35 minutes.
The Math section of the ACT consists of 60 multiple-choice questions in 60 minutes. You can also use personal calculators in the test math section. The ACT Math section includes the following: Pre-Algebra (20-25%), Elementary Algebra (15-20%), Intermediate Algebra (15-20%), Coordinate Geometry (15-20%), Plane Geometry (20-25%), and Trigonometry (5-10%). You do not have the right to have a formula in the ACT, so remember the formulas for algebra, geometry, and trigonometry before the test.
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The Night before the Test!
Eat a healthy dinner
The food you eat the night before the test should be healthy and nutritious. Eat nutritious meals that include complex carbohydrates, including potatoes, rice, and pasta, as well as protein-rich meals and vegetables.
Prepare your transportation plan
Make sure you know how to get to the test site. Find out the route, parking details, and train, bus, or subway schedule.
Pack your bags
Pack your bags for testing. Make sure your ID, stationery, and anything else you need is ready. Keep the bag right in front of the exit door.
Get a good night’s sleep
If you get enough sleep the night before the test, you will feel more prepared and alert. How many hours you need to have a good rest depends on the person, but in general, the goal is to have at least eight hours of good sleep.
Going to the test day feeling sleepy and tired can dramatically affect your ability to concentrate and potentially lower your score. So go to bed early!
On Test Day!
Eat a healthy breakfast
Eating a healthy and satisfying breakfast before taking the ACT Math is also very important. This way you will feel more awake and energetic before taking the test. What, you will not worry about gargling in the stomach later!
Keep your daily routine
Do your daily routine without skipping or adding anything. Do not eat a meal or drink that you don’t normally eat on the day of the test because you cannot predict its effects.
Wear comfortable dress
Be prepared for any temperature changes during the test. You can wear comfortable layers of clothing and take off one layer if it gets too hot.
Believe in yourself
If you believe in yourself, you will do better in your test. Before the test, imagine that you answer all the questions correctly and pass the test. Your expectation supports your performance.
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During the Test!
The most important thing to remember during ACT is to stay cool. Especially due to time pressure, students who suffer from test anxiety usually freak out if they have to skip a few questions. Do not let this happen to you! Move forward and respond to what you can. You may find a question that at first seem impossible when you go back to them is much easier.
Pay attention to diagrams
The ACT Math section often provides you with diagrams of the figure that describe the problem you want to answer. It is important to pay attention to these figures because they give you clues that are the most logical answer options.
If a problem asks you to understand an angle, for example, and some choices are acute, and some are obtuse, you can delete at least two answers just by looking at the diagram. If the answer does not seem to base on visual aid alone, it is usually safe to cross it out.
Plugin answers and numbers
Two of the most important ways to help you verify the correct answer to a math problem are to plug in answers and plug in numbers.
Plug-in answers mean: If a question asks you to solve for x, it is enough to connect each answer option to the original equation and see which one answers. This will tell you which option is the correct answer. You do not even need to solve the real problem!
The plugging in numbers is a little different. Using this strategy, you select random numbers to plug into algebraic variables. This strategy allows you to analyze the problem using real numbers instead of unknowns and answers better for questions with several variables.
While useful, these strategies can sometimes be more time-consuming than solving the equation directly, so use them only as a last resort if you slip.
Elimination of incorrect answer
For each part of the ACT, use the elimination process as your main strategy to attack difficult or confusing questions. This is in line with the fundamental rule of ACT reading, which says that there is only one perfectly correct answer to each question – the rest can be omitted based on the evidence in the text.
Translate each word
With each question, translate the words into math so you can identify and solve the problem more easily. Do not forget that “of” indicates multiplication is required.
Identify trap answers
Keep your eyes open for “trap” answers. These include bizarre answers and answers that are too big or too small. Identifying trap answers helps you limit your answer options.
Answer every question
Since there is no penalty for guessing on the ACT, make sure you fill each bubble! The unanswered question and an incorrect answer have the same effect on your raw score, so even if you have no idea how to answer something, it is better to go ahead and guess anyway.
Always double-check your calculations. It is not uncommon to mess up a calculation when going through a problem quickly.
After the Test!
After the test, take some time to relax and rest. Do not dwell on what you should have said, done, or written. You cannot change the decisions you made during the ACT, so accept it. During the day, spend your time and energy on activities that make you entertained and happy.