The Mathematics section of the ACT is designed to assess a variety of mathematical skills acquired by students during the time spent in middle school and high school. It is comprised of 60 multiple-choice type questions and students are allowed 60 minutes to complete this section. Students are expected to use logic skills as well as reasoning skills to answer the various questions presented. The questions may be presented as simple mathematical problems or may be more complex, such as the presentation of a chart or graph followed by a set of similar questions pertaining to that illustration. A student should have the knowledge of basic mathematical formulas and understand general computational skills for this section.
There are six areas included in the mathematics section of the ACT. These are pre-algebra, elementary algebra, intermediate algebra, plane geometry, coordinate geometry, and trigonometry. A few examples of pre-algebra questions would include problems related to using decimals, fractions, integers, ratio, proportion, percent, probability, and absolute value. Elementary algebra examples would include problems related to exponents, square roots, quadratic equations, and using variables to express functional relationships.
Questions on the test regarding intermediate algebra build on the foundations learned in elementary algebra. They are based on topics such as radical expressions, sequences and patterns, functions, and quadratic inequalities. The third subsection of the math exam involves coordinate geometry. A few examples of questions in this section are based on graphing principles such as points, lines, curves, and polynomials. There are also questions pertaining to distance, slope, and parallel and perpendicular lines. Examples of questions in the plan geometry subsection are based on angles, parallelograms, trapezoids, and properties of various shapes. The trigonometry subsection contains questions based on topics such as the properties of trigonometric functions, graphing trigonometric functions, the use of trigonometric identities, and solving trigonometric equations.
A calculator may be used on this section of the ACT. There is, however, a policy regarding the type of calculator permitted. Please consult the following link to read more information about what calculators are permitted in the testing center: ACT Calculator FAQs.
Several enhancements have been made to the ACT. Many questions were included to align the test more closely with Common Core Standards used by the majority of public and private high schools in the nation. Further information on this may be found on the official website, ACTstudent.org. You may also visit the official ACT website to find helpful study tips, tips for exam day preparation, sample exam questions, and answers to other frequently asked questions.