The ACT Math section is unique. Whereas the other sections might seem unrelated to the high school curriculum, the Math section contains content from algebra, geometry and trigonometry classes across the country. This means you have probably learned almost all of the test’s material at some point in your high school career. The challenge is, first, recognizing what type of question is being asked, and second, remembering how to solve each one.
Let’s start with the second of these two challenges. To do well on the test, you will need to brush up on your math skills. We advise the following steps:
- Take a practice section. You can find practice questions on the ACT website or even purchase a practice-test booklet.
- Identify the concepts that give you trouble.
- Learn (or re-learn) them, either with the support of a test prep book or a tutor. Check out online resources like Khan Academy for helpful videos and, of course, Signet Education for personalized help.
Now, let’s turn to the first of these challenges: recognizing which concept each question is testing. Here, it’s all about practice: increased exposure to sample problems improves your ability to identify what each question is asking. To reap the full benefits of practice, we suggest a structured approach. Namely, you should track the questions you get wrong, using a table like this:
This kind of spreadsheet is a tremendous tool. Too often, students get a question wrong, glance at the correct answer, and then move on in frustration never to return to that particular problem. As a result, you may only master troublesome concepts after making the same mistake several times. That’s a waste of your valuable time. Work smarter by cataloging your wrong answers and the reasons why you got them wrong; then review them at the start of each study session until you can give the correct answers with confidence.
The combination of these two approaches – learning how to identify what the question is testing and knowing how to solve these questions – has allowed countless students to land a solid Math score. If, however, you are someone for whom the material is totally new, or if you only struggle with the more complicated questions that come near the section’s end, then this approach may be insufficient. In these cases, one-on-one coaching is particularly helpful, and for that, Signet is always here to help.
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