SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips

The Ultimate ACT Math Prep Guide: Strategies, Topics, and Tips

Posted by Courtney Montgomery | Dec 4, 2015 8:00:00 AM

ACT Math



We at PrepScholar believe in providing you with the best quality ACT study material ever. And we have put together the best guide for your ACT math prep here, all of it available for free. 

This is the best, most comprehensive guide to the ACT math section available. 

We compiled all of our ACT math guides and brought them together in one place. The path the mastering the ACT is challenging, but if you're dedicated to doing your best on the ACT and you're ready to commit your time and energy to improving your score, then our guides are here to help you reach your greatest potential. 

This ultimate  guide will break down what you need by first comparing the ACT and SAT math sections so that any of you still on the fence can make the best decision about which test is right for you. Next we'll go through the ACT math section at a high level, so you know what to expect from the test, point you towards the best free ACT tests and math practice problems. Afterwards, we'll dive into the more general ACT tips you'll need for the test, and finally list the individual math topics you'll need to know.

It's a good idea to go through each guide we've linked roughly in order, at least for the first time. Afterwards, you can come back to any of the guides you need, in order to give yourself a refresher.

Let's dive in!





For those of you who aren't sure whether the SAT or the ACT is right for you, we've broken down what each test looks like, how they differ, and which test is best for the type of math student you are. 

The Difference Between ACT and SAT Math

What, exactly, is the difference between the ACT math section and the SAT math section? We'll show you how each test differs in terms of structure, style, and content, and what that means for you. 


Which is Easier—ACT or SAT Math?

Everyone seems to have an opinion on whether the ACT or the SAT math section is easier, but different people find that different tests suit them best. Learn which which one is likely to be easier for you

High-Level ACT Math Section Overview

Now that you've (presumably) decided to choose the ACT math section, let's talk big picture. These guides will lay the foundation for your ACT studies and give you an idea of how the ACT math section works as a whole, as well as how to master it at the higher level.


What’s Tested on ACT Math?

The first step to understanding how to master the ACT math section is understanding exactly what you'll be  tested on. This guide will take you through all the math topics tested on the ACT so that you know exactly what to study. 


How the ACT Math Section Is Ordered

Because the ACT is a standardized test, you can use its structure to predict what your own ACT will look like. We'll take you through the ways in which the ACT math section is ordered and show you how you can use that information to your advantage while studying and on test day.  


How to Get a Perfect 36 on ACT Math

For those of you who are already doing well in the ACT math section, but who are aiming for perfection, this is the guide for you. Written by a perfect-scorer, our guide will help you take your scores to the very top. 


Free ACT Tests and ACT Math Practice Problems

Mastering the ACT is a combination of arming yourself with knowledge of the test and taking the time to practice on real ACT math practice tests and problems. We've linked here all the free ACT materials you can find online that you can use in your ACT prep. 


ACT Math Practice Tests Available for Free

If you haven't yet taken a full practice test, set aside some time and take one of these free, real ACT tests. This will give you a score as a starting point to work with and will show you how your math scores fit into the larger picture of your ACT score. 


Complete List of Free ACT Math Practice Problems

In addition to the full ACT tests, there are many ACT math problems available for free online. We've linked to them all here and provided the key tips you need to master them.


The Hardest ACT Math Questions

We have compiled the 21 hardest ACT math problems from the past ten years and provided answer explanations for each. So take a look if you're ready to test yourself against the most difficult problems the ACT has to offer. 




ACT Math Tips and Tools

So far, you've learned what the test looks like, high-level strategies for improving your scores, and where to find ACT math practice problems. Now let's look at the skills and tools you'll need to further master the math section. 


The 31 ACT Math Formulas You MUST Know

One of the most important aspects for the test is knowing your ACT math formulas and how to apply them to your problems. We'll show you what math formulas you'll absolutely need to know and what formulas you can get away with not knowing. 


How to Actually Use ACT Math Formulas

Now that you know the key formulas, how do you make the best use of them? We'll show you how and when to use  formulas to their greatest effect as well as take you through which of the formulas you'll need the most.


How to Use ACT Math Problems Effectively

Knowing how to use your practice problems effectively is just about as important as having access to practice problems in the first place. Learn how to put those problems to work to their greatest effect and improve your score. 


Guide to ACT Calculators

A good (and allowed) calculator on the ACT math section is indispensable. Learn which calculators are allowed on the test and get the inside knowledge of which calculators the ACT experts prefer. 


How to Guess Strategically on ACT Math Questions

When should you make a guess on the ACT math section? How can you make the best guess for the question? Learn how to increase your guessing odds and get the greatest score possible when you have to guess on questions. 


How to Stop Running Out of Time on the ACT Math Section

Running out of time on ACT math? This section is fast-paced, but we'll take you through the steps you'll need to get your best score and beat that clock.


How to Know When You’re Stuck in Math (and What to Do About It)

If you've ever found yourself stymied by a problem, then this is the guide for you. We'll help you identify (quickly) when you're going down the wrong ACT math path and how to get yourself out of it. 




ACT Math Topics Guides

Now that you've got a solid grasp of the most important higher-level ACT math strategies, it's time to take a look at each and every math topic on the test. We have written individual informational and strategy guides for every topic on the ACT and provided practice problems with answer explanations for each. 

Strategies for Multiple Types of Math Problems

Many ACT math problems can be solved in multiple ways and two strategies in particular can help you solve many different kinds of problems. Understanding these strategies can allow you to answer questions on math topic you are not sure you want to solve the "traditional" way or can help you double-check that you've chosen the correct answer. 



Plugging in Answers

Instead of actually solving the math problem, you can use the structure of the test against itself. Learn how!


Plugging in Numbers

For those complex algebra problems, nothing beats working with real numbers instead of variables. We'll show you exactly how to do it. 


Individual Topic Guides

Now let's look at each math topic on the ACT by subject. 






Coordinate Geometry


Plane and Solid Geometry


The Take-Aways

There's a lot of information here, so take your time with it and balance your studies over a period of several months, if possible. The ACT math section is complicated and there is a lot to study and understand if you want to get the score you're aiming for. 

But always take to heart that it is possible for you to do well on ACT math. It takes dedication and discipline, but mastering the test is completely doable. Taking the time to work through these guides means you're already on the right track. 


What’s Next?

Check out our other ACT section guides: English, Reading, and Science.  We also have an index to a variety of ACT test Prep info here.

If you're still feeling overwhelmed, it may be a good idea to work with a prep program. Our PrepScholar ACT prep program learns your strengths and weaknesses and tailors your study materials and lessons to the areas where you need it most. We'll also show you how to balance out your time over the course of your prep so that you can get the most for every hour that you prep. 

And if you're still procrastinating, take a look at how you can overcome it and get your focus back


Want to improve your ACT score by 4 points? 

Check out our best-in-class online ACT prep program. We guarantee your money back if you don't improve your ACT score by 4 points or more.

Our program is entirely online, and it customizes what you study to your strengths and weaknesses. If you liked this Math lesson, you'll love our program. Along with more detailed lessons, you'll get thousands of practice problems organized by individual skills so you learn most effectively. We'll also give you a step-by-step program to follow so you'll never be confused about what to study next.

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Courtney Montgomery
About the Author

Courtney scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT in high school and went on to graduate from Stanford University with a degree in Cultural and Social Anthropology. She is passionate about bringing education and the tools to succeed to students from all backgrounds and walks of life, as she believes open education is one of the great societal equalizers. She has years of tutoring experience and writes creative works in her free time.

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