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Thomas Broderick

ACT Math Review

You’ve taken the ACT for the first time. A few weeks go by, and the results are available on your online ACT account. You see your Math score….

ACT Math Review -Magoosh

Well…you won’t be the first person to have to retake the ACT because of a low Math score. Most students report that Math is the hardest section, after all. There’s no shame in it. A lot of your classmates are probably in the same boat as you.

Take a minute to get yourself together. It’s time for a plan of action. Though you may have felt prepared when you tested, there’s a lot about ACT Math you still need to know.

In this article I tackle some of the lesser known (but still just as important) skills involved in successful ACT Math review. So if you’re getting ready to take the ACT for the second, or even first time, you should find some new wisdom in the following paragraphs.

Making Old (and New) Math Fresh

The ACT Math Test covers A LOT: Pre-Algebra, Algebra, Geometry, and Trigonometry. You might have taken Pre-Algebra in middle school, and are only halfway through your Trig course. Don’t freak out just yet. There are ways to fill in these gaps in your knowledge.

For Pre-Algebra, check out some practice questions to test your skills. Though ‘easy,’ Pre-Algebra will make up 12-15 questions on the ACT Math Test. This is where you want to do your best. If you’ve mastered the easier topics, move onto some harder examples.

For Trigonometry, check out a few basics. Having these skills under your belt will boost your chances of success on the 3-6 Trigonometry questions that appear on the ACT Math Test.

Where Everyone Struggles

Years of ACT testing have led to a few trends that can help you with your ACT Math Review. Though you may not have noticed it at the time when answering questions, there are a few qualities that makes a question ‘hard,’ no matter the type of Math involved in the question:

  • Questions that have multiple steps.
  • Questions that that require you to use different mathematical concepts.
  • Questions that involve concepts that students are still learning (Ex: Trigonometry)
  • Long word problems.
  • Questions that ‘look’ easy.
    • Though ACT Math will have easy questions, anything that ‘looks’ easy in questions 41-60 is trying to trick you up.

Now that you know the types of ‘hard’ questions, you can compare practice questions where your struggle to this list. For some test takers, knowing ‘why’ a question is hard is the first step in solving it.

Being Mindful of Your ACT Math Review

Though I’ve written before about how perfect practice makes perfect, you need to evaluate if your studying is successful. When I taught ACT Preparation some years ago, this was my weekly schedule for students:

Monday: Students took a timed ACT English, Math, Reading, or Science Test. Students’ scores were their baseline results. Students recorded these scores in their notebooks.

Tuesday – Thursday: I led students through a series of test prep lessons that involved both content review and test taking strategies. Each lesson involved students answering 10 practice questions at the beginning and end of each lesson to see if the new skills were effective.

Friday: Students, applying everything they had learned throughout the week, took another practice test in the same subject. Students who had successfully applied my lessons saw increases in their scores.

Even if you’re studying alone, a form of this plan can work for you. In just a single week of studying you can track improvement through applying different techniques into your ACT Math review.

Though ACT Math review isn’t a perfect science, having a plan of action will give you a leg up on test day. Happy reviewing, ACT Math scholars!

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About Thomas Broderick

Thomas spent four years teaching high school English, social studies, and ACT preparation in Middle Tennessee. Now living in Northern California, he is excited to share his knowledge and experience with Magoosh's readers. In his spare time Thomas enjoys writing short fiction and hiking in the Sonoma foothills.

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