Math can be a challenge for many students, especially when it comes to test-taking. For the ACT exam’s math section, it may seem like there are numerous formulas to memorize, concepts to learn, and computations to make. There is little margin for error and only a limited time to finish the questions, so it may feel impossible to score high on the test. However, these are all misconceptions—it is possible to turn the test in your favor without having to spend hours cramming formulas or perfecting calculations. Here are some of the vital tips and tricks that will help you ace the math portion of the ACT most efficiently.
Tips and Tricks to Improve Your ACT Math Score
1. Take a Diagnostic Test
Lots of information goes into an ACT math exam, so taking a diagnostic test will help you eliminate lots of unnecessary studying. Learn your skill on each topic, and only focus on the ones that need the most improvement. Make sure you use a timer so that your scores best reflect a test-taking environment!
2. Identify Your Weaknesses in Math
Use your time effectively by attacking the topics you need to work on most. Utilize free online tools like Khan Academy and ACT Academy. Curvebreakers also offers a variety of valuable ACT guides for all aspects of ACT Math, so be sure to take advantage of the available resources.
3. Make a Cheat Sheet
A personal cheat sheet can help you ingrain the most necessary topics in your head so that you’ll have them memorized without even looking at the paper. Start with a list of the most common formulas for ACT Math and add to it as you need. Make sure to circle the ones you struggle with you most.
4. Program Your Calculator
Some students program their calculators to hold math concepts and formulas for the exam. Since calculators are allowed on the exam, this is a viable option to increase your score quickly. Note: Do not use a CAS calculator or any algebra-solving functionality! Make use of the other advanced built-in programs.
5. Get to Know the ACT Math Section of the Test
Repetition on standardized tests is vital to familiarize yourself with the relevant topics and concepts that appear. Also, experience with the types of questions and the wording of answer choices is invaluable, so practice until it eventually becomes perfect.
6. Focus on Your Mistakes
It can be disheartening to focus on the questions you got wrong, but learning from your mistakes is a crucial part of efficient learning. There is no need to spend a lot of time reviewing a question you understand. For anything you’re not sure about, take the time to lookup an explanation or complete more practice on the topic.
7. Budget Your Time During the ACT Math Section
Time management can make or break your ACT exam, so you should know the formatting and timing for the math section to succeed. One helpful strategy is to finish the first 30 questions in 25 minutes. The problems get harder towards the end, so leave more time for the challenging ones.
8. Plug-in the Answer Choices
One characteristic of math is that you can plug the answer back into the problem to verify that it is correct for many questions. This strategy is known as backsolving. It is perfect for a test like the ACT, where there are always four answers for a problem. This strategy is helpful for variable questions.
9. Learn the Crucial ACT Math Topics
To achieve a perfect score on the ACT, you must get every question right. Although rare, some obscure topics appear in the math section that you must know to maximize your score:
These may only show up as a few questions, but it will earn you a few points if you learn and apply these concepts to get the upper edge.
10. Be Transparent With Yourself
Transparency is helpful when it comes to test-taking. Accept what you know and don’t know, and become comfortable with learning. Constantly ask yourself how you can best learn the material, how you work best, and how you can specifically work to achieve your goal score.
These ten tips can bring you from an average score to an outstanding one. Math may be a difficult subject to grasp, but you can outsmart the exam in many different ways to achieve your ideal score. Going through each of these tricks and making sure to always try to work on your shortcomings is an essential skill to have for the ACT Math section and all other tests.
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