With four weeks to go until the April ACT, this month we’re providing a four-week ACT program that students can do on their own to improve their English, Reading, Math, and Science scores.
4 Week Program for Math
Please download a free ACT exam to familiarize yourself with the test. We also recommend purchasing The Official ACT Prep Guide
There are 60 math questions, and they tend to progress in difficulty from beginning to end. So the first 20 should be the easiest, 21-40 should be medium, and 41-60 should generally be the most difficult. The content includes Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2, and some Precalc topics. Flip through the test to get a feel for the balance of geometry, algebra, and data problems.
Now, take the math test. Time yourself, and don’t worry if you take longer than 60 minutes. Just make note of how much time the full test takes you. You might want to put a star or note on the question you were at when 60 minutes passed.
It’s time to analyze how your practice test went. Correct your practice test and make note of the topics you missed the most. How was your algebra 1 (lines and systems of equations)? How did you do on quadratics? Data problems and graphs? Probability? Geometry?
Identify the top three topics you need to practice, and find some problems and videos on Khan Academy. If there are any problems you still don’t understand after reading the correct answer and explanation, ask a math teacher to help you understand it.
Next, think about your timing. How far did you get in 60 minutes? A lot of students find it difficult to finish in time. If this is you, you should focus on getting as many problems right out of the first 45 as possible, and don’t worry too much about getting through the last 15.
How many problems did you miss in the first 30? These problems should be the easier ones, so you should be aiming to miss as few of the first 30 as possible. If you missed 5/30, aim to miss 4 or fewer next time. As you practice the topics you struggled with, especially focus on any question types you missed at the beginning of the test.
This week you should take another practice test from the Official ACT Prep Guide. Before you do, here are some words and topics you should probably familiarize yourself with, as they can help add easy points to your score.
- “Permutations” are just arrangements of numbers or letters (like words, phone numbers, or license plates) where order matters.
- A factorial (denoted with an !) is just a number multiplied by all the positive integers less than itself. For example: 5! = 5(4)(3)(2)(1).
- You should know the basics of sine and cosine waves. What is “amplitude“? What does “period” mean?
- You should be able to find expected value or a weighted average. This should be a guaranteed point on each test.
Finally, when you see a right triangle, you should always think of two things you might need to use:
- The Pythagorean Theorem
Now take a practice test, giving yourself only 60 minutes. Focus on getting as many of the first 45 right as possible, even if it means you don’t get through the last 15. If you have to skip any of the first 30 problems, go back to them.
How did it go? Did you miss fewer questions in the first 30? Did you improve on the topics that you studied? What topics did you struggle with the most?
This week you should take 1-3 more practice tests (as many as you have time for). Each time try to reduce the number of problems you miss out of the first 30. Try to get this number down to 2 or less!
Lastly, make sure you’re comfortable with your calculator. So many problems can be solved just by relying on your calculator to do the calculations for you.