By Kelly Roell
So, you took the Mathematics portion of the ACT Test, and once you got your results, weren't especially impressed with your underwhelming ACT Math score, huh? Yeah. It happens. But that doesn't mean it has to happen again. You can raise that ACT Math score to a number you're willing to live with, but first, you're going to need to follow some advice. Here are five steps to take to get that math score up to a level you're actually willing to discuss with people.
It seems silly, really, but many people (I'm not saying you), go into the ACT Math test blind; they haven't taken six seconds to find out what's actually on the test. If you took the test and hate your score, then perhaps you're one of those people? Let's hope not. To spare you some time, the content you need to know is listed below. In short, you'll have about 33 Algebra questions, 23 Geometry questions, and 4 Trigonometry questions. They'll be all mixed up together, but you'll get the following 3 Subscores, based on how well you perform on each. (more detailed explanations, here):
In math class, the process of getting to the correct answer is often graded by your teacher. On the ACT test, the graders could give a flying flip how you get to the right answer as long as you arrive and on time. Use those answer choices to your advantage! Sometimes, especially with the Algebra questions, it's easier to just plug in the answer choices for the variable instead of working out the entire problem to solve it. This is not cheating; it's just good strategy for a higher ACT Math score. You never know - you may strike it rich and get the correct answer the first time you try!
Speaking of math, let's do some. You'll have 60 minutes to answer 60 questions on the ACT Math test, which means that you have 1 minute per question. Easy, right? Definitely, but it doesn't seem that way when you're in the thick of things. If you start spending more than a minute on difficult questions right up front, you're going to be kicking yourself when you get to the end of the exam and realize you only have 20 seconds or so to answer each one of those (and the end could be brimming with easy questions, too!) Stick with your time frame; in fact, practice ahead of time so you can shorten that answer time by 15 seconds or so. You'll thank yourself when you get stuck on a tough question that you've got back-up time waiting for you!
The ACT test-makers rely on your mistakes to make appropriate wrong answer choices. They know that you're going to forget the basics! They know you'll forget things like the least common multiple is different from the greatest common factor. (Maybe this tripped you up the first time around?) They understand that you're going to forget that whatever you do to one side of an equation you must, must, must do to the other. They recognize that you'll forget to FOIL, so that Choice B looks really appealing when the answer is obviously Choice D. Fool them all. Those test-makers have nothing on you. Practice and prepare those easy math rules so you're bubbling in the correct answer choice, not one that just looks really good.
Contrary to popular opinion (and your own knowledge since you probably already took the test), you will not be getting a formula sheet for the ACT Math exam any time soon. What's that mean? You're going to have to memorize all of those bad boys so you can actually have a shot at scoring well in case you don't want to plug in answer choices for every stinking question. Some ACT prep companies have compiled pretty good lists to memorize and review. Here's a pretty good one!