There comes a point where you begin to feel like you don’t know what to do to study for the ACT.  Where do you start?!

Let’s talk about math here and you can also apply this information for studying for the other parts of the test…

So first the types of math tested on the ACT….

1. Pre-Algebra/Elementary Algebra
Pre-Algebra (20-25%)
  • Basic operations using whole numbers, decimals, fractions, and integers

  • Place value

  • Square roots and approximations

  • The concept of exponents

  • Scientific notation

  • Factors

  • Ratio, proportion, and percent

  • Linear equations in one variable

  • Absolute value and ordering numbers by value

  • Elementary counting techniques and simple probability

  • Data collection, representation, and interpretation

  • Understanding simple descriptive statistics

Elementary Algebra (15-20%)
  • Properties of exponents and square roots

  • Evaluation of algebraic expressions through substitution

  • Using variables to express functional relationships

  • Understanding algebraic operations

  • The solution of quadratic equations by factoring

2. Intermediate Algebra/Coordinate Geometry
Intermediate Algebra (15-20%)
  • The quadratic formula

  • Rational and radical expressions

  • Absolute value equations and inequalities

  • Sequences and patterns

  • Systems of equations

  • Quadratic inequalities

  • Functions and modeling

  • Matrices

  • Roots of polynomials

  • Complex numbers

Coordinate Geometry (15-20%)
  • Graphing and the relations between equations and graphs, including points, lines, polynomials, circles, and other curves

  • Graphing inequalities

  • Slope

  • Parallel and perpendicular lines

  • Distance

  • Midpoints

  • Conics

3. Plane Geometry/Trigonometry
Plane Geometry (20-25%)
  • Properties and relations of plane figures, including angles and relations among perpendicular and parallel lines

  • Properties of circles, triangles, rectangles, parallelograms, and trapezoids

  • Transformations

  • The concept of proof and proof techniques

  • Volume

  • Applications of geometry to three dimensions

Trigonometry (5-10%)
  • Trigonometric relations in right triangles

  • Values and properties of trigonometric functions

  • Graphing trigonometric functions

  • Modeling using trigonometric functions

  • Use of trigonometric identities

  • Solving trigonometric equations


You can see there is a lot of information here, but what do you actually study?  Do you need to study an entire course in trigonometry in order to get a high score on the ACT?!?!?!  What about reviewing all 16 chapters of the Geometry course you took freshman year?!

The answer to these questions is NOOOOO!!!

In all honesty, you only need to study the pieces that will be on a test, and the things you don’t already know.

I know that seems logical, but for some reason I see a lot of students wasting time reviewing things they already know because it gives them this false sense of confidence.  What you really need to zero-in-on are the things you don’t know and use those to eliminate weaknesses.

So make flashcards of all questions you get wrong when you take a practice test and study those questions as often as possible.  There are only so many types of questions on both the ACT and SAT.  Once you go through enough sample test questions, you will start to see patterns and repeats of the same things over and over again.  So familiarize yourself with the test and continue to review your past mistakes over and over resolving the flashcards for the correct answer.  Once you know the card inside and out, then you can put it in a separate pile that you go through less often.

If you missed a question once, but learned it again and again, you won’t miss a similar question again when you see it on the ACT.