ACT Math Format

How long is the Mathematics test? What will I be tested on?

The Mathematics section has 60 questions in 60 minutes. The areas which are covered are pre-algebra, elementary algebra, intermediate algebra, plane geometry, coordinate geometry, and elementary trigonometry. This basically covers all mathematics that a typical student would learn from middle school to the end of 11th grade. Calculators are permitted in this section only, but computer algebra systems are not allowed.

What is the layout of the test?

There are 60 multiple choice questions. There may be some diagrams, drawings, and charts and a couple of questions related to them, but for the most part the questions are unrelated to one another. You will be told which questions are related to one another. The skills which are tested are interspersed throughout the exam. Most of the questions are ‘stand alone’ math questions, not given in any sort of outside context. No mathematical aids (multiplication charts, lists of formulas, etc.) will be provided or permitted in the test room.

I’ve never taken trigonometry (or geometry, etc.) in school! What do I do?

The Mathematics ACT test is geared towards students who have completed up to the end of the 11th grade in various math courses. Everything on the exam should have been covered in your math classes according to national teaching standards. If you still feel unprepared, start studying now! You can take practice ACT Math tests, take ACT Math prep courses, or watch math lesson videos online. You can also ask your math teacher if he or she has any extra practice work, or if he or she can tutor you in a certain area before the ACT exam.

What general academic skills will help me?

A thorough review of your mathematics knowledge will serve you better than anything else in this section. There are topics ranging from middle school math to 11th grade math! This is really the best way to be prepared and to do well on this section of the test. As stated earlier, studying ACT prep books and taking ACT practice tests are a great way to get a feel for what the math test will be like. Working with a tutor or taking an ACT prep course would be helpful as well, particularly if math is not your subject.

Is it true I can use a calculator?

Yes! However, there are many requirements as to which kind of calculator is acceptable. Basically, any calculator that can perform built-in algebra systems or any calculator that is attached to another device such as a cell phone or iPod are unacceptable. You can read more about acceptable calculators to use on the ACT here. Do not be overly reliant on your calculator! According to the ACT rules, your calculator will only be able to perform basic functions. You will have to work out the formulas and functions on your own!