6 ACT Math Tips – Strategies To Improve Your Test Score In 2023

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incorporating act math tips makes getting a perfect act score easier

Understanding The ACT math Sections

Before diving into the ACT Math strategies, let’s make sure we understand the format, structure, and types of questions you will encounter on the math section. While the ACT Math section is one cohesive section, there is a divide between general math and graph-in.

Content covered by act

Pre-Algebra (14 Questions)

Elementary Algebra (10 Questions)

Intermediate Algebra (9 Questions)

Coordinate Geometry (9 Questions)

Plane Geometry (14 Questions)

Trigonometry (4 Questions)

timing and structure

ACT Math has a total of 60 questions.

You have 1 minute on average to spend on each question

The first 30 questions are generally easy to medium. The level of difficulty increases from easy to hard through the 60 questions in a generally linear pattern.

Be prepared for the last five questions to be most difficult.

Strategy #1

Understand the difficulty Levels

a lightbulb of understanding on the act math section

ACT Math section features questions that progressively gets harder (questions 1-60)

Questions 1-20: Mostly easy, medium questions mixed in (near the end)

Questions 21-40: Mostly medium, easy questions mixed in (near the beginning), hard questions mixed in (after question 30)

Before question 30: Rarely more than 1 hard question

After question 30: Rarely more than 1 easy question

Question 41-60: Mostly hard questions, medium questions mixed in (near the beginning)

Question 55-60: Very difficult questions

Strategy #2

you don’t need to attempt all the questions!

Don’t leave any questions unanswered, but that doesn’t mean you have to solve them, particularly if you don’t understand them or don’t know how to solve them.

Remember, there is no penalty for guessing, and even a random guess is likely to yield a correct answer 20% of the time.

Strategy #3

Know the performance trends

students working studying trends in preparation for act math section

The majority of errors occur after question 30.

Students who scored below 23 only correctly answer less than 50% of questions after #30 and less than 30% of questions after #40.

Students who scored 23-29 only correctly answered less than 50% of questions after #50 and less than 25% of questions after #55.

Students who scored 30 or above correctly answered less than 50% of questions after #58.

Based on these trends, it is in many students’ interests to focus on answering the first 30 questions correctly first before spending the rest of their time on the last 30.

Know your personal weakness. Identify your limit and plan ahead to make the most of your limited time.

Strategy # 4

 take a diagnostic ACT test to identify where your weaknesses ARE

Note at what point in the text you miss more than 50% of the remaining questions. This will give you a strong idea of your areas of weaknesses. 

Based on the percentage of your correct answer, you can start planning out which area on the test to focus on. (Remember the order of increasing difficulty!)

Also, keep in mind that you may want to plan for certain types of questions you should guess on as part of your strategy.

Strategy #5

Optimize your pacing

A strategy you can utilize will involve guessing on the last 15 questions.

This will give you an extra 15 minutes to delegate however you’d like on the first 45 questions. If evenly spread, this will give you a solid 1.25 minutes per question.

However, since questions 1-20 are fairly easy, if you keep the original pace of 1 min per question, you can dedicate the extra 15 mins to questions 21-45.

This gives you an almost 60% increase in time per question, averaging 1.6 minutes to spend on each question.

Strategy # 6

Apply your pacing

For questions 1-20: make sure the time it takes you to complete this portion of the test (in minutes) is below the number of total questions. For example, for questions 1-20, you should be done in less than 20 minutes.

Assuming you finish this section in 20 minutes or less, you will end up with at least 40 mins to complete the next 25 questions. 

For these next 25 questions, you should be completing 5 questions every 8 minutes.

It is recommended that you check your time after completing question 30 (you should be at the 36-minute mark here) and after completing question 40 (you should be at the 52-minute mark here). 

After question 45, go ahead and bubble in your guesses for questions 46-60. Make sure you save a couple of seconds in the end to get this done.

How to get 36 on ACT MATH?

Are you confident in your content knowledge, but are finding yourself hitting a wall with your ACT score in Math? Are you doing well, but find yourself unable to break the 32-34 score range? If you want to raise your ACT score to the perfect 36, it is not impossible!

It should come as no surprise that scoring 36 on the ACT Math section is no easy feat. That is not to say it is out of your reach. With some extra help, MathTowne can definitely get you to perfection, or at the very least, very close to it. 

Schedule an ACT Lesson with an ACT math Tutor

Tutored students often outperform students who have only used reference books or studied on their own. Some experienced guidance may be all you need to push you over the edge. 

More often than not, it is not even a case of subject mastery, but understanding the test itself. Be sure to look into test-taking strategies or discuss them with your tutors to increase your performance.

studying math tips for word problems will help student get a better act score on the act math section
Students and parents look for answers to frequently asked questions about act math exam

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a graphing calculator for ACT Math?

While it is perfectly fine to use a scientific calculator or any other that you prefer, it is our recommendation that you use a graphing calculator on the ACT and SAT. There are numerous benefits to using a graphing calculator.

Being able to see the graph as you plug it in is a great help during the test. Most graphing calculators such as TI-83, and TI-84 can solve quadratic equations, polynomials, and systems of equations. Learning to use your graphing calculator will help boost both your speed and accuracy.

Do I have to memorize formulas for ACT Math?

What’s the average ACT Math section score?

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