Last time, we tackled ACT Science, now we look at the Math section. So, let's start with the good news. You can use your calculator for the ENTIRE math section! For those of you who are familiar with the SAT, that's is a plus. However, don't get too excited because the math for the ACT is a little more involved. Let's look at what is in the math section.
So, the ACT has a bit more geometry and trig. While you can use your calculator, you will not be given the formulas like the SAT does. That's our first tip.
ACT Math Tip #1: Know your formulas!
The ACT expects you to know how to determine the area of a circle, volume of a cylinder, and the equation of a circle. The good news is that on the Trig questions, knowing SOHCAHTOA will enable you to come up with the answer. Know how to manipulate those formulas, as well. Don't just memorize them.
ACT Math Tip #2: Use your calculator.
Remember this entire exam is about speed. Yes, it's still close to 3 hours but you only have 52 secs per math question. The good news is that you'll not need the full 52 seconds when asked a question like this:
12x = -8 (10-x), what is x?
That will make up for when you need time to answer a more complex question.
Speaking of, the TI-84 Plus is the most popular calculator on the ACT. I'll be writing a blog post on some tips specifically focused on that calculator. (I have one and love it! And, yes, the circle formula is already on the calculator, I didn't add it.)
ACT Math Tip #3: Break word problems down.
EVERYONE gets stumped by word problems. The key is to figure out what they are asking. Take it sentence by sentence. Once you can figure out how to pull an equation from the wording, you're all set. Go back to the basics.
ACT Math Tip #4: Use Backsolving when possible.
Backsolving is the process of trying different values in the equation to determine the correct answer. Of course, everyone knows the "just try the answer choices", but did you know that you should start with choice C? Yes, because the ACT lists the answer choices in either ascending or descending order. So, trying C, first, you can either: 1) determine C is the correct answer or 2) that it's not and you either need a larger or smaller number.
Ok, so there aren't as many Math tips as Science but these will still help you. Remember the key is accuracy and speed for this section.
The next blog will show you how you can optimize using your TI-84 on the math section of the ACT. Stay tuned!