How to Improve your ACT Math Score

September 02, 2016

The next ACT test date is only 2.5 weeks away. If you’ve registered to take the exam and still need help with the Math section, you’re in luck!



The ACT Math section has 60 questions in 60 minutes. You have exactly 1 minute to answer each question, which are all multiple choice with 5 answer choices. You get 1 point for every correct answer and 0 points for every incorrect or skipped answer. There is no penalty for guessing if you’re running out of time, or don’t know the answer.

So, with this structure, how can you make sure you do the best with the knowledge you have and adapt a strategy that will ensure the highest scores?

1. Process of Elimination

Every question in this section is a multiple choice question. That means the correct answer is there on the page in front of you. The more you can narrow down your options, the better your chances are of getting the correct one.

If you can eliminate 4 of the answers, boom - you’ve got the right one! If you can only eliminate 3, you now have a 50-50 guess. Go with your gut, because that’s likely the educated guess. If you can’t eliminate any of them at all, just guess! Remember, there’s no penalty. When you do guess, be systematic about it and stick to your favorite letter you always go with.

2. Don’t be Tempted

The ACT is designed to trick you. There are some questions that will be straightforward, while others will disguise themselves as so, but actually require an additional step. Don’t fall into the trap when it’s a slightly more difficult question - double check and make sure you know what question you’re trying to answer.

3. Find Shortcuts

You’re not allowed a calculator on the ACT, so the math will never be tediously difficult to solve. Read the question. If it involves fractions, or scary looking variables and numbers, see how you can use that information to your advantage. The ACT wants you to find these shortcuts and are designed for you to find.

4. Approximation

Ball park the numbers. If you know the answer has to be positive, use this to eliminate any negative answers. Or you can work backwards. Use the second or fourth option, which is usually the second smallest or the second largest answer to see if your answer makes sense. From there, you can eliminate the answers below it or above those answer choices.

Need help studying for the ACT? Use Green Test Prep, an online SAT prep platform, to help improve your score.

Anthony-James Green, called “America’s Top SAT Tutor” by Business Insider, is renowned as the best SAT and ACT tutor in the industry. After working with over 450 students one-on-one, and thousands more through Green Test Prep, his online SAT and ACT program, Green has helped to raise students’ scores by an average of 346+ points on the SAT and 4.6+ points on the ACT. His work has been featured everywhere from The New York Times and CNN to FOX Business and Good Morning America. Learn more about Anthony.

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Hi, I'm Shannon! I'm from San Jose, California, spent a gap year living and working in Leipzig, Germany, and now I go to college in Washington D.C. I've shared everything I can remember about the college application process with y'all! :)

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