ACT Math Tips

Learn the best ACT Math tips to increase your ACT score!

ACT Math Prep: Strategies and Tips for the Math Test

Here we will discuss ACT Math prep tips and strategies that will help you maximize your score and performance on the ACT Math test. Remember, because the ACT is a timed test, strategy is just as important as your knowledge of the content!

It is possible to increase your ACT score by several points simply by taking the ACT in a different way.

General ACT Math Prep Tips

Here are five ACT Math prep tips that will help you on the ACT Math test:

  1. The ACT Math test goes generally from easier to harder, although some easier questions will also be scattered into the late part of the test. This ordering of the questions means two things: First, you want to spend less time on the earlier questions to give yourself more time for the mor difficult questions later in the test. Second, you want to make sure you get as many of the earlier questions correct as you can.
  2. Learn how to use your graphing calculator well. Make sure you know how to use the “Fraction” function and the “Graphing” function, and know where the different math concept buttons are located (exponent, square root, etc.).
  3. Use the diagrams to your advantage. They are generally drawn to scale, although you should be careful about angles.
  4. Write in your test booklet. A lot. Draw diagrams, label diagrams, write out equations, etc. Visualizing the math problems will be very helpful in answering them.
  5. Use substitution from the answer choices if you are stuck or if this will save time.

ACT math prep

ACT Math Prep Tips – Timing for the ACT Math Test

The ACT Math test is 60 minutes long, so you should spend no more than 1 minute for each question. However, as mentioned earlier, you should seek to spend less time on the earlier, easier questions.

The ACT Math test is more rushed than the ACT English test, but if you know your math concepts, you may finish earlier. In any case, make sure you do not make silly mistakes, especially during the earlier part of the test.

ACT Math Prep Tips – In what order should I do the questions?

You should not do all of the ACT Math questions in order. You will generally go in order, but you will want to skip questions that either you do not know how to do at first or you know will take a long time to do (over a minute).

ACT Math Prep Tips – Skipping/Marking Questions

Skipping Questions

Skip two kinds of questions: 1) Questions you do not know how to do at first, and 2) Questions you know will take a long time to do (over a minute). Write the numbers of these questions on the first page of the Math test.

You will come back to these questions after you complete the rest of the test, both to give yourself more time to work on them and to make sure you are able to complete the test.

Marking Questions

Mark down the numbers of questions you are unsure about. Write these numbers on the first page of the Math test (separate from the questions you skipped). Come back and check over these questions after you complete all of the questions on the test.

ACT Math Prep Tips – Bubbling

Bubble two pages at a time (left and right pages). This will help you maintain focus and flow throughout the test, as well as help you avoid bubbling mistakes.

When you hear the five minute warning, bubble one question at a time to make sure you are able to bubble every question.

ACT Math Prep Tips – Foundations to Work on before Taking the ACT Math Test: Math Concepts

ACT Math Concepts

ACT math prep
Because the ACT Math test covers so many different math concepts it is vitally important that you learn them well before you take the ACT Math test. To learn these math concepts well, you can do two things: 1) Work hard in your math classes in high school, and 2) Study specifically the concepts you are not skilled at.

A list of the math concepts that will show up on the ACT can be found at the ACT Math Test: Format and Content Overview page.

By |December 14th, 2013|ACT Math Tips|0 Comments

ACT Math Test: Format and Content Overview

ACT Math

Introduction to the ACT Math Test

The ACT Math test is the second section of the ACT. It is the longest test in terms of time, so it is important to not allow fatigue to hurt your performance on the test.

Although many consider the ACT Math test to be the most difficult section of the ACT, it is graded the most leniently, so you can miss more questions and still get a good score. Nevertheless, make sure you do not make careless mistakes and try to get as many questions as possible correct.

The ACT Math Format: Structure and Timing

Below you will see a chart that provides an overview of the Math test format. This chart includes how long the Math test is, how many questions are on it, how it is organized, and how long you have for each question.

Overview of the Math test format

Total Time Number of Questions Organization Time per Question
60 minutes 60 questions Questions go from easier to harder, although easier questions may be scattered throughout the test about 1 minute per question (less than 1 minute for earlier questions, more than 1 minute for later questions)

Although many students run out of time on the ACT Math test, if you are familiar with the math concepts tested, you may finish early. In any case, because there is a 10 minute break after the Math test, we highly recommend that you work for the entire 60 minutes, checking over answers you were unsure about if you have extra time. This may help you gain a few extra points and maximize your ACT Math score.

Because the ACT Math test is the “hardest” out of all four tests, it is graded the most leniently. Nevertheless, focus on getting every possible question correct to maximize your score. Stay diligent throughout the test and make sure you do not make silly mistakes.

The ACT Math Test Content: Math Concepts Tested

The ACT Math test covers more concepts than any other section of the ACT. Although there are tricks to solving unfamiliar problems, the ACT Math test is designed so that students who are not at a certain level of math proficiency will not do well on the test. This is why it is vitally important that students work hard in their high school math classes and actually learn the concepts being taught.

Below is a chart that lists out all the math concepts you need to know for the ACT Math test. Many of these math concepts show up in similar ways year after year, so knowing both the concepts and how they typically appear on the ACT Math test will be great preparation for the ACT test.

The Specific Content of the ACT Math Test


Pre-Algebra (23% – about 14 questions) Elementary Algebra (17% – about 10 questions) Intermediate Algebra (15% – about 9 questions)
  • Basic operations using whole numbers, decimals, fractions, and integers
  • Place value
  • Square roots and approximations
  • Concept of exponents
  • Scientific notation
  • Factors
  • Ratio, proportion, and percent
  • Linear equations in one variable
  • Absolute value and ordering numbers by value
  • Elementary counting techniques and simple probability
  • Data collection, representation, and interpretation
  • Understanding simple descriptive statistics
  • Properties of exponents and square roots
  • Evaluation of algebraic expressions through substitution
  • Using variables to express functional relationships
  • Understanding algebraic operations
  • The solution of quadratic equations by factoring
  • Understanding of the quadratic formula
  • Rational and radical expressions
  • Absolute value equations and inequalities
  • Sequences and patterns
  • Systems of equations
  • Quadratic inequalities
  • Functions
  • Modeling
  • Matrices
  • Roots of polynomials
  • Complex numbers
  • Geometry

    Coordinate Geometry (15% – about 9 questions) Plane Geometry (23% – about 14 questions)
  • 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
  • Applications of geometry to three dimensions
  • Graphing and the relations between equations and graphs, including points, lines, polynomials, circles, and other curves
  • Graphic inequalities
  • Slope
  • Parallel and perpendicular lines
  • Distance
  • Midpoints
  • Conics
  • Trigonometry

    Trigonometry (7% – about 4 questions)
  • Understanding trigonometric relations in right triangles
  • Values and properties of trigonometric functions
  • Graphing trigonometric functions
  • Modeling using trigonometric functions
  • Use of trigonometric identities
  • Solving trigonometric equations
  • To learn or review these math concepts, check out They have a lot of great review material and practice questions to help you learn or brush up on your math skills for the ACT.

    Next Step

    The next step in your ACT Math test preparation is to learn the strategies for taking the Math test. To learn the best ACT Math test strategies, visit the ACT Math Prep: Strategies for the ACT Math Test page.

    By |November 23rd, 2013|ACT Math Tips|0 Comments