The Definitive Guide to Acing the Math Section of the ACT


LeoPatrizi / E+ / Getty Images

Taking any exam can be an intimidating experience. Leading up to the big day, its natural for your thoughts to race, leaving you with a muddled mind and spinning head. If youre fortunate, the pre-exam jitters may avoid seeping to the surface. This feeling of surety is much more likely with proper preparation. If you feel prepared and ready, your confidence will provide that extra blanket of reassurance when test day arrives.  

Now, with the ACT (American College Testing) exam, the event may seem overwhelming. Dont worry, its completely approachable when you have a full understanding of the test, supplemented by preparation that will prime you for the best outcome. One particular section that can induce a feeling of apprehension is the math section of the ACT. Here, well cover the steps you can take to substitute apprehension with eagerness.  

What is the ACT?  

Close up of a student taking the math section of the ACT
Tevarak Phanduang / EyeEm / EyeEm / Getty Images

So, first things first, what is the ACT? Essentially, its a standardized test used by colleges and universities to assess a students academic potential. Its made up of four sections: English, Math, Reading, and Science, plus the optional writing section. The math section consists of 60 multiple-choice questions covering topics such as arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and trigonometry. Remember, it is designed to test your readiness for college. With the right preparation, youll be putting yourself ahead of the curve.  

What are ACT Scores Used For?  

Back view of two high school graduates
Kingfisher Productions / DigitalVision / Getty Images

After taking the exam, what happens? Well, your ACT score is used by colleges and universities to determine your academic readiness and potential for college-level work. A high score can show that you are prepared to succeed in college-level classes and can help you get accepted into the college of your choice. Essentially, a high score opens doors and gives you the liberty to determine your academic future.  

What Kind of Math is On the ACT? 

Two students studying for the ACT math section
SolStock / E+ / Getty Images

As weve already touched upon, the ACT math section tests your knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and trigonometry. Questions can range from basic arithmetic to complex algebraic equations and geometry proofs. Therefore, its important to become familiar with every area—even those you feel more confident with. And it doesnt end with the content. Ensure that youre aware of the tests format, time allowance, and the best way to navigate it.  

Is the ACT Math Section Hard?  

Frustrated student struggling to study
Paul Bradbury / OJO Images / Getty Images

This may be a question that plagues many prospective test-takersminds, particularly those who lack confidence with the subject. However, while its natural to feel this way, its not necessary. With the right preparation and the ability to recall math concepts and use logical and analytical thinking, the idea of the ACT math section being “hard will melt away. It may offer challenges, but if youre armed and equipped to deal with them, theyll seem like scalable hurdles. 

What is the Best Way to Study for the ACT Math Section?  

Close up of a teen boy studying for the ACT math section
PeopleImages / E+ / Getty Images

We’ve discussed this already, but its worth repeating: preparation is key. The best way to prepare for the ACT math section is to practice, practice, practice! Start by reviewing and refreshing your knowledge of the topics covered on the test, and then work through practice tests to familiarize yourself with the types of questions youll be facing.  

Make sure to time yourself as you practice, and try to complete the test in the allotted time. This can be achieved through mock exams. If youre comfortable and familiar with the overall environment (test conditions, time management, test format, etc.), the big day wont hold as much gravitas. Also, ensure that you take advantage of online resources and tutoring to get extra help if you need it. 

The Best Way to Study for the ACT Math Section 

Now, weve hammered home the importance of ACT math test prep, but what is the best way to study? With the ACT math section in particular, focus on the topics that are most likely to be tested and practice your problem-solving skills. Its important to understand the concepts behind each topic, and to practice as many different types of questions as possible. Research and evaluate what areas youre confident with and what could use more work.  

Make sure youre comfortable with algebra, geometry, and trigonometry. Its also helpful to use online resources and practice tests to help you identify areas of weakness and focus your study time. Try and put yourself in test conditions regularly before the day of the exam. If youre familiar with the situation, it wont seem like such a looming presence.  

Should I Get a Tutor for Math Test Prep? 

Tutor giving a virtual study session for the ACT math section
Drs Producoes / E+ / Getty Images

Whether or not you should get a tutor for math test prep depends entirely on you. If youre struggling to understand a certain concept or topic, or if you need help figuring out how to approach a certain type of problem, a tutor may be beneficial. If you would like to cement your understanding and master certain aspects of the subject, tutors are a solid option. Theyll provide you with ACT math tips and a welcome level of support during a relatively pressurized time.  

However, its important to make sure that youre comfortable with the material (and comfortable with your choice of tutor) before you commit to regular sessions. If youre interested, trial some tutors and see if they meld with your personality and learning style. They can be a vital resource when used effectively.  

What are the Most Common Math Questions on the ACT? 

Back view of a teen girl studying math in a virtual tutoring session
sefa ozel / E+ / Getty Images

The most common math questions on the ACT are those related to algebra, geometry, and trigonometry. You may also see questions related to data analysis, linear equations, and probability. Its important to understand the concepts behind each topic, and to practice as many different types of questions as possible. Become familiar with every area, as it will leave you in a much better position when faced with a challenging question. 

What Do I Do When I Get Stuck on a Question? 

Teen girl stuck on a question on a test
Willie B. Thomas / DigitalVision / Getty Images

You come across a question thats tricky, what now? First, take a step back and review the problem. Make sure you understand the question, and if youre still not sure, make an educated guess. Remember, there is no penalty for guessing on the ACT, so its better to take a guess than to leave the question blank. That will save you from hearing your tutor or teachers voice in your head, asking: “Why did you miss a math question?” Make an estimation, its the logical option.  

Tips for the Day of the Test  

The day has arrived! With an arsenal of preparation and knowledge at your disposal, you may even find yourself raring to go. To mitigate any unnecessary feelings of anxiety, make sure to get a good nights sleep the night before and arrive on time to the testing center. Bring snacks and water to keep your energy up, and make sure to bring extra pencils and erasers in case you need them.  

During the test, read all of the questions carefully and make sure to answer them to the best of your ability. Dont worry if you dont know the answer to a question—it’s better to guess than to leave it blank. Remember to navigate your time management smartly, as this will reduce panic if you find the clock is ticking by a bit too fast for your liking. Try not to discuss too much about the test with your peers afterwards (I know this can be hard) as it may leave you with feelings of unwarranted uncertainty.  

How Do I Get a Perfect Score on the ACT Math Section? 

Picture of a multiple choise scantron
denkcreative / DigitalVision Vectors / Getty Images

This is a question that will likely cross your mind. While setting such high goals is admirable, its also important to be realistic and prepared to dedicate yourself. With a bit of tenacity, getting a perfect score on the ACT math section is a challenging but achievable goal. Go over the topics again and again, practice as many different types of questions as possible, and use online resources and practice tests to help you identify areas of weakness. 

Ultimately, the math section of the ACT can be daunting, but it doesnt have to be. With a clear understanding of the topics and practice, you can prepare yourself for success. Make sure to focus on the topics that are most likely to be tested, practice your problem-solving skills, and use online resources and practice tests to identify areas of weakness. If youre struggling with certain concepts or topics, seek a tutor or supplemental learning to bolster your chances. With enough practice and dedication, you can achieve a perfect score on the ACT math section. 

TakeLessons Staff

Created with the help of AI technology.

TakeLessons Staff


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here