The ACT is designed to test what you’ve learned in high school. The Math section covers a span of topics from pre-algebra to trigonometry. Because of its wide scope, it’s essential that you do some serious preparation before actually sitting down to take the test. Follow these steps to ensure you are sufficiently ready for ACT Math:
1. Get to know the parameters of the test. Know how many questions you’ll have to complete and how much time you’re given to do them. Find out what kind of calculators are permitted and the amount of “scratch” space you’ll be allowed to use during the test.
2. Now that you know the nitty-gritty boundaries of the test, make a list of the math topics that are covered. Briefly go over each of these topics using either your notes from high school or an ACT prep book. Plan to do at least five problems per topic in this initial assessment. As you do the problems, record how many of them you attempt for each topic and how many you answer correctly.
3. Highlight any topics in which you answered more problems incorrectly and then plan to delve deeper into those subjects. Did you get 3 out of 5 coordinate geometry problems incorrect? Pay special attention to the coordinate geometry examples in your prep book and consider reviewing your textbook or notes from class more in-depth. If you’re still having trouble, consult a tutor, teacher, or friend who’s comfortable with the topic.
4. After reviewing the relevant learning materials for a given topic, seek out ACT questions that specifically deal with this topic. Plan on doing at least 15 of these on each of your problem areas.
5. Once you’ve mastered all of the mathematical concepts of the ACT, it’s time to work on complete ACT Math sections. One of the most challenging aspects of the ACT is staying within the time parameters. Complete one initial ACT Math section, circling any problems that take you a lengthy amount of time (about a minute for “medium” questions and a 1:30 for more difficult ones).
6. Collaborate with a friend, teacher, or tutor on your circled problems. Are there ways to do these problems faster? What could you have done differently? Going through and identifying your mistakes will help you prevent similar mistakes in the future.
7. Complete one or two practice ACT Math tests per week under the real time conditions, with the appropriate calculator and pencils and with an answer grid (if possible) for at least three weeks leading up to the test. Consistent practice will keep all of the math concepts you reviewed fresh in your mind, and it will allow you to become familiar with all of the question formats on the test. Continue going over difficult problems with someone who is willing to help you.
8. On the week of the test, do a final review of any rules, theorems, and postulates with which you often struggle. Take one last practice test a few days before your actual exam, and then rest the night before it, knowing that you have put forth your best effort at preparing.
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