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


We at PrepScholar believe in providing you with the highest quality ACT study material. We've put together a detailed, entirely free guide for your ACT math prep right here. This is the best, most comprehensive guide to the ACT Math section available anywhere. To make this article, we brought all of our top ACT Math guides together in one place.

The path to mastering the ACT is challenging, but if you're dedicated to doing your best on the test and are ready to commit your time and energy to improving your score, using our guides can help you reach your greatest potential!

This ultimate guide to ACT Math will start by comparing the ACT and SAT Math sections so that any of you still on the fence about which test to take can make the best decision for you. Next, we'll go through the format of the ACT Math section, point you toward the best free ACT Math tests and practice problems, and dive into more general ACT tips you'll need to know for the test. Finally, we'll go over the individual math topics bound to appear on test day.

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

Now that we've covered the basics, let's dive in! If you'd rather skip around, here are quick links to the main sections of this article:




ACT Math vs SAT Math

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


ACT vs. SAT: 11 Key Differences to Help You Pick the Right Test

What are the main differences between the ACT and SAT? How different (or similar) are their Math sections? We'll show you how each test differs in terms of structure, style, and content—as well as what this means for you. 


Is the ACT Easier Than the SAT?

Everyone seems to have an opinion on whether the ACT or SAT is easier, but different people will find that different tests suit them best. So which is easier: ACT or SAT Math? In this guide, we help you determine which exam will be easier for you based on your own strengths and weaknesses.


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 to give you an idea of how the ACT Math section works as a whole and how you can master it.


What’s Actually Tested on ACT Math Section? Concepts, Subjects, and Skills

The first step to understanding how to master the ACT Math section is to learn exactly what you'll be tested on. This guide takes you through all of the major math topics tested on the ACT so that you can know what and how to study for this section.


How You Can Take Advantage of ACT Math Question Order

Because the ACT is a standardized test, you can use its structure to predict what your own ACT will look like. In this guide, we explain how the ACT Math section is arranged and teach you how to use this information to your advantage during your studies and on test day.  


How to Get 36 on ACT Math: 8 Strategies by a Perfect Scorer

For those of you who are already doing well on ACT Math and want to aim for perfection, this is the guide for you. Written by a perfect scorer, our article gives you expert advice and tips to help you take your ACT Math score to the top.


Free ACT Tests and ACT Math Practice Problems

Mastering the ACT, especially the Math section, requires you to arm yourself with tons of content knowledge and take the time to practice with real ACT Math practice tests and problems. Here, we give you our picks for the best free online ACT Math materials to use in your test prep. 


Complete Official ACT Practice Tests, Free Links

If you haven't yet taken a full ACT practice test yet, 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 score fits into the larger picture of your ACT score goals.


Complete List of FREE ACT Math Practice Questions

In addition to full ACT tests, there are many ACT Math problems available for free online that aren't part of full-length tests. We link to all of them here and give you helpful tips you'll need to master in order to be able to solve them both fast and accurately.


The 21 Hardest ACT Math Questions Ever

We've compiled the most difficult ACT Math problems from the past 10 years and provided answer explanations for each of them. 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 ACT Math section looks like, high-level strategies for improving your scores, and where to find high-quality ACT Math practice problems. Now, we'll look at the skills and tools you'll need to further master the Math section.


The 31 Critical ACT Math Formulas You MUST Know

One of the most important aspects of the test is knowing your ACT math formulas as well as how to apply them to problems. In this guide, we show you what math formulas you'll absolutely need to know, and what formulas you can get away with not knowing on test day.


How to Actually Use Your ACT Math Formulas

Now that you know the key formulas, how do you make use of them on ACT Math? We show you how and when to use math formulas to their greatest effect, and take you through the formulas you'll need to know most for the test.


How to Improve Low ACT Math Scores: 9 Tips From a Perfect Scorer

If you're consistently scoring in the range of 14-24 on ACT Math but want to hit 26 or higher, this is the guide for you. Here, our resident full scorer gives you the motivation and essential tips needed to easily and effectively raise your Math score.


How to Get the Most Out of ACT Math Practice Questions

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 best approach ACT Math problems and ultimately improve your score.


Guide to ACT Calculators: Expert Tips

A good (and pre-approved) calculator on ACT Math is indispensable. Learn which calculators are allowed on the test and get the inside knowledge of which calculators our ACT experts prefer. 


How to Guess Strategically on ACT Math

When should you guess on an ACT Math question? More importantly, how can you make your best guess possible? Learn how to increase your guessing odds and give yourself the greatest possibility of getting a Math question right.


How to Stop Running Out of Time on ACT Math

Running out of time on ACT Math when you practice? This section is fast paced but not impossible. Here, we take you through the steps you'll need to beat the clock and get your best Math score.


How You'll Get Stuck in ACT Math Questions, and What to Do About It

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




ACT Math Topic Guides

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


Strategies for Multiple Types of ACT Math Problems

Many ACT Math problems can be solved in multiple ways, and two strategies in particular can help you solve several kinds of questions. These key strategies give you the power to answer questions on math topics you aren't sure how to solve using the "traditional" way, and help you double-check that you've chosen the correct answer.


Plugging in Answers: A Critical ACT Math Strategy

Plugging in Numbers: A Critical ACT Math Strategy

Instead of solving math problems directly, you can use the structure of the test against itself. These two essential strategies involve putting answer choices back into problems and using numbers to test equations and inequalities. They're especially helpful for complex algebra problems—nothing beats working with real numbers instead of variables!


Individual ACT Math Topic Guides

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






Coordinate Geometry


Plane and Solid Geometry




Advice for Using This Ultimate ACT Math Guide

There's a lot of information here, so take your time as you read through it. Similarly, try to balance your studies over a period of several months. The ACT Math section is complicated, and there's a lot of content and problem-solving techniques to understand if you want to score highly on it.

That said, always take to heart that it is possible for you to do well on ACT Math. Getting a good Math score requires dedication and discipline, but mastering the section is completely doable.

And don't forget that taking the time to work through these ACT Math prep guides means you're already on the right track!


What’s Next?

Want more guidance? Check out our other ACT section guides for English, Reading, Science, and Writing. We've also got an ultimate guide to the ACT as a whole!

Think you might be procrastinating on your ACT study plan? Then read our guide to learn how you can get your focus back and stop putting off ACT prep.

If you're still feeling overwhelmed, consider working with a prep program.Our ACT prep program learns your strengths and weaknesses to tailor your study materials and lessons to the areas you need to focus on most. We also teach you how to balance your time during your studies so that you can get the most out of every hour of prep.



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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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