What To Expect on the ACT Math Test
You will have 60 minutes to answer 60 multiple-choice questions based on “topics covered in typical high school classes.” For those of you who aren’t sure if you went to a typical high school, these questions break down into rather precise areas of knowledge.
The ACT Math Test usually breaks down into 6 questions types: pre-algebra, elementary algebra, and intermediate algebra questions; plane geometry and coordinate geometry questions; and some trigonometry questions.
- 14 pre-algebra questions based on math terminology (integers, prime numbers, and so on), basic number theory (rules of zero, order of operations and so on), and manipulation of fractions and decimals
- 10 elementary algebra questions based on inequalities, linear equations, ratios, percents, and averages
- 9 intermediate algebra questions based on exponents, roots, simultaneous equations, and quadratic equations
Total: 33 questions
- 14 plane geometry questions based on angles, lengths, triangles, quadrilaterals, circles, perimeter, area, and volume.
- 9 coordinate geometry questions based on slope, distance, midpoint, parallel and perpendicular lines, points of intersection, and graphing.
Total: 23 questions
- 4 questions based on basic sine, cosine, and tangent functions, trig identities, and graphing
Total: 4 questions
ACT Math Formulas
The ACT does not provide any formulas at the beginning of the Math Test. This means you need to memorize relevant formulas, so you can recall them quickly as needed. Don’t panic! Because ACT is so specific about the types of questions it expects you to answer, you can easily prepare to tackle them.
Not all standardized tests allow calculators. Fortunately, ACT does. Your calculator can help to save a ton of time on operations that are easy to mess up like multiplying decimals or working with big numbers. The place where you have to be really careful with your calculator, though, is on the easy ones. Be careful with negative numbers!
What kind of calculator should I bring?
TI-89, TI-92, and TI-Nspire CAS model calculators are not allowed on the ACT (among others). In our book Cracking the ACT, we show you to how solve problems on the TI-83.
- handle positive, negative, and fractional exponents
- use parentheses
- graph simple functions
- convert fractions to decimals and vice versa
- change a linear equation into y = mx + b form
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