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ACT Math Topics

The ACT is a great alternative to the SAT, especially if you’re a strong math student, since the ACT Math is generally considered more challenging than the SAT Math sections. Here are the top ten most-tested ACT Math topics to review. Get these down and you’ll rock the ACT Math Test!


Top ACT Math Topics

1.  Number Properties. The properties of odds and evens, integers, fractions, positives, and negatives will all appear in various questions on your ACT test. The more comfortable you are with them, the more quickly you will arrive at the correct answer.

2. Lines and Graphs. On the ACT Math Test, you will need to be confident graphing lines, parabolas, and circles. Know the standard equations for each, and how to find the equations if given only the graph. You will also need to know the slope formula, the distance formula, and the midpoint formula.

3. Plane Geometry. Triangles are tested a lot on the ACT. You should know the Pythagorean Theorem, Triangle Inequality Theorem, the special right triangles: 45-45-90 and 30-60-90, as well as the properties of isosceles and equilateral triangles. Other plane geometry concepts to review include angles, circles, and polygons.

4. Data Analysis. You might be asked about things like tables, charts, and graphs. Other statistical concepts include mean, median, and mode, range, and domain. Make sure you can find the union and intersection of sets, and can add and subtract simple matrices.

5. Probability. The probability of an event occurring is the desired outcomes/total possible outcomes. The probability of two events occurring together is the product of the two probabilities.

6. Ratios and Proportions. A ratio is a relationship between two things. Given a ratio and one “real world” number, you can always set up a proportion to solve for the other missing “real world” number. Sometimes you will need to do this for similar triangles in Geometry, and sometimes in algebraic word problems.

7. Functions. A function is a different way of writing an equation. Instead of y = mx + b, we’d have f(x) = mx + b. It’s helpful to think of a function as simply replacing the “y” with a symbol called “f(x).” The ACT may also present made-up symbol functions; pay attention to any definitions you are given, and expand accordingly.

8. Trigonometry. Use SOHCAHTOA to help you recall the Trig identities. Remember their inverses: cosecant, secant, and cotangent, and be able to find any of these 6 identities for any angle in a right triangle.  Be comfortable converting from radians to degrees and back and understand the unit circle and how it relates to the sign of a trig identity. You might also look at the law of sines if you really want to go the extra mile!

9. Inequalities. Remember that when you multiply or divide by a negative number, you must reverse the direction of the inequality. Be comfortable with expressing inequalities on number lines.

10. Systems of Equations. You will need to be able to solve for a system of equations. Remember the “n equations with n variables” rule. If you have 2 variables, x and y, then you will need 2 equations with those 2 variables to solve for both. Familiarize yourself with Substitution and Combination.

That rounds out our top ACT Math topics. The list isn’t exactly comprehensive, but will point you in the right direction.  So which math topics on the ACT are you most concerned about? Let us know below!


About Magoosh ACT

Magoosh is a company of passionate educators, located in Berkeley, CA. We are here to provide you with everything you need to prep for the ACT, SAT, GRE, GMAT, and TOEFL! Be sure to follow us on Twitter @Magoosh.

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