ACT Math

The ACT Math Test assesses the mathematical skills students are expected to obtain before grade 12 (meaning through advanced algebra and basic trigonometry, but not calculus).



What to Know:

  • It’s the second section of the ACT
  • You have a 60-minute time limit
  • You will face 60 multiple choice questions
  • You get to use a calculator for the whole test (but it must be an approved one)


What to Study:

  • Geometry formulas for the area, volume, and surface area of basic shapes (unlike the SAT, the ACT won’t give you these!)
  • Multiple-choice math test strategies such as “backsolving” the problem using the answer choices, substituting in numbers, and estimating.
  • Pre-Algebra
    • decimals, fractions, integers, positive and negative numbers, square roots, scientific notation, factors, ratios, proportions, percents, charts and graphs of statistics
  • Elementary Algebra
    • exponents, evaluating algebraic expressions through substitution, using variables to express relationships, algebraic operations, and factoring quadratic equations
  • Intermediate Algebra
    • quadratic formula, rational and radical expressions, absolute value equations and inequalities, sequences and series, systems of equations, quadratic inequalities, functions, matrices, roots of polynomials, probability, and complex numbers
  • Coordinate Geometry
    • evaluating points and lines on a graph, polynomials, circles and other curves, graphing inequalities, slope, parallel and perpendicular lines, distance, midpoints, and conics
  • Plane Geometry
    • angles and relationships among perpendicular and parallel lines, properties of circles, ellipses, rectangles, triangles, parallelograms, trapezoids, transformations, area, volume, three-dimensional geometry
  • Trigonometry (on a very basic level)
    • trigonometric relations in right angles, values and properties of trig functions, graphing trig functions, using trig identities, solving trig equations


What Not to Study:

  • Trigonometry beyond the very basics. However, you should know:
    • how to solve right triangles
    • the unit circle
    • tan θ = sin θ / cos θ
    • sin^2 θ + cos^2 θ = 1
    • what sine, cosine, and tangent graphs look like


Where to Start:

Right here! First, read How to Get a Perfect 36 on ACT Math: The Jurassic Guide, which will guide you through all the basics (if you’re a beginner) and how to improve your score (if you’ve already taken the test). There’s a lot to know, and we are here to help! On this page, you will find math review lessons for all of the content tested on the ACT as well as test-specific strategies to help you find answers quickly and efficiently so you can get your best score.



Image Credit: eflon


By the way, Magoosh can help you study for both the SAT and ACT exams. Click here to learn more!

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