Because the test is so predictable, the best way to prepare for the ACT math section is with a complete review of math concepts in Number and Quantity, Algebra, Functions, Geometry, Statistics and Probability.
Use your Personal Order of Difficulty to determine if a question is for Now, Later, or Never. Now: Do the problems you're sure you can complete quickly and accurately. Later: If a problem looks time consuming, save it for later. Do the Nows first. Never: Sometimes it's better to just walk away. If a problem has you totally confused, guess, and move on.
Many of the math problems on the ACT exam are word problems. Having the ability to translate word problems from English into mathematical expressions or equations will help you to score high on the test.
|Which, what||x (or any other variable)|
|The difference between x and y||x - y|
|X more than Y||x - y|
|Y years ago||- y|
|X times as old as Y||x times y|
With Algebra questions in ACT Math, it's easier to just plug in the answer choices for the variable instead of working out the entire problem to solve it. This is not cheating; it's just good strategy for a higher ACT Math score. You never know - you may strike it rich and get the correct answer the first time you try!
Never leave any blanks! Even if you don't “work” a problem you should always answer it, even if you have to guess. You won't lose points if you get the answer wrong, but you could gain points if you get it right!
Build up those mental computation skills! Do this in your study sessions, but also do this in your daily life. Mentally calculate the totals (including sales tax!) when you buy things. Mentally figure your average times to get to school, or the number of tiles on your bathroom floor.
You can use a calculator in ACT Math, and on especially hard problems, this can be a lifeline. But the funny thing about a calculator is that it's really easy to hit the wrong key and get an answer that's way off. Conversely, there are no “wrong keys” inside your mind. The more ACT Math calculations you are able to successfully do in your head, the fewer mistakes you'll make on the exam.
If you are struggling to remember mathematical formulas to solve questions, you have not understood ACT Math well enough. This not only costs you time, but it also indicates that you have not practiced enough with ACT Math to have the required formulas come to you smoothly.
Full-length practice tests are available in ACT practice books at local bookstores or at your local library. Find a quiet place where you can take the practice ACT, and clear off the table or desk. Try and eliminate any distractions and do the best you can to mimic your test-day environment. Keep a clock or timer in front of you so you can periodically check and see how you are doing. You may want to set the timer to go off every 10 minutes. Don’t rush, but make sure you can move confidently from one question to the next and answer ALL questions in the time allotted.