ACT Math Tips for Aspirants

Updated on 15 April, 2024

Mrinal Mandal

Mrinal Mandal

Study Abroad Expert

A standardized test used throughout the USA, the ACT, or American College Testing, assesses students' readiness for college education. Scoring well on this test enables students to secure admission to renowned American colleges. 

This paper and pencil exam comprise multiple-choice questions. It is conducted for two hours and 55 minutes, with an additional 40 minutes for those appearing for the optional Writing section. 

Besides Writing, there are four mandatory sections – English, Math, Reading, and Science. 

The questions in the ACT Math test are highly varied, ranging from Geometry to Algebra. Vital ACT Math tips include regular practice, which makes securing a good score easy. 

ACT Sections 

Find the details of the ACT sections below: 

ACT Section

Number and Type of Questions


Areas Assessed



75 multiple-choice questions

45 minutes

Rhetoric skills, grammar, and sentence structure


40 multiple-choice questions

35 minutes

Analysis of science-based passages through tables, graphs, and charts


60 multiple-choice questions

60 minutes

Geometry, Trigonometry, Algebra I and II


40 multiple-choice questions

35 minutes

Comprehension skills through four passages on natural sciences, social studies, fiction, and humanities


1 essay

40 minutes

Observation and Analytical skills through essay writing based on a short passage and its perspectives

Out of these, only the Writing section is optional. Among the mandatory sections, the Math section is allotted the maximum time. Scoring well here can significantly improve the overall ACT score. 

A vital ACT Mathematics test tip is to focus on straightforward questions before attempting the challenging ones. Use a calculator to speed things up. 

Tips to Ace ACT Math Sections 

Students who need to strengthen their preparations will benefit from the ACT Math section tips below –

  1. Learning the Art of Prioritization: In time-sensitive examinations like the ACT, it is essential to learn time management. This begins with understanding the importance of attempting the easier questions before challenging ones. 

Students must ensure they are 100% confident with the easy questions before proceeding to the tough ones (the aim is not to answer all questions but to answer as many correctly). 

2. Taking the Smarter Route: In some cases, students may not need to dive into complex algebra. They can look at the question and make the choices work to help them get the correct answer. This is an efficient way to solve and takes lesser time. 

3. Replacing Abstract with Concrete Values: The ACT loves to ask questions that contain variables such as 'x' and 'y'. Since it is more challenging to work with abstract values, students must replace them with concrete numbers. This will make the calculation process efficient. 

4. Cutting Through the Fluff: In the case of word problems, there is often much fluff. Learning to navigate through the fluff is essential – this is also among the critical ACT Mathematics test tips. 

Regular practice will help students identify the problem's actual question. 

5. Having Proper Content Knowledge: The ACT English and Mathematics sections depend heavily upon content knowledge— even the most complex formulas must be memorized. 

Students are recommended to stay in touch with these formulas till they become second nature. 

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6. Identifying Question Concepts: Though ACT math problems are generally divided into three broad sections – Modelling, Integrating Higher Skills, and Preparation for Higher Math – the crux lies in understanding the tested concept. 

For instance, students must identify whether the question tests their trigonometry, exponents, or geometry skills. This helps to cut through the fluff and answer faster. 

7. Embracing the Guessing Game: ACT does not penalize students for the wrong answers, so it is best to try at least to attempt all (if left with some time). 

Students can use the power of elimination for complex questions to arrive at the most likely correct answer. 

8. Becoming Calculator-Savvy: Students must work with and without calculators during practice sessions. 

This will help them understand what works best for a particular problem. Also, frequent use of the calculator makes it easy to operate on examination day. 

9. Going Black-and-White: Students often choose to solve a math problem in their heads without writing it down. This can be a mistake, even if the question is easy. 

Writing down (even briefly) helps double-check the figures and arrive at the correct answer. 

10. Being Suspicious of Figures: In ACTs, the instructions read, "figures may NOT draw to scale." What this means is that looks can be deceptive. 

The idea is to not rely on figures and refer to given values. For instance – Do not immediately assume that an angle is 90 degrees because it appears so. Always refer to the value provided. 

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Disclaimer - ACT® is a registered trademark belonging to ACT, Inc. ACT, Inc. is not involved with or affiliated with, nor does ACT, Inc. endorse or sponsor any of the products or services offered by


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Frequently Asked Questions

Is ACT Math more difficult than SAT?

The level of difficulty is subjective and depends upon the student. The truth is that both tests assess students based on similar mathematical concepts. Even the questions are more or less similar. Even so, students may find one to be easier than the other. 

How many times is ACT conducted in a year?

ACT is conducted seven times yearly – during December, October, September, July, June, April, and February. 

Mrinal Mandal

Study Abroad Expert

Mrinal Mandal is a study abroad expert with a passion for guiding students towards their international education goals. He holds a degree in mechanical engineering, earned in 2018. Since 2021, Mrinal has been working with upGrad Abroad, where he assists aspiring students in realizing their dreams of studying abroad. With his expertise and dedication, he empowers individuals to navigate the complexities of international education, making their aspirations a reality.

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The above tips are the Author's experiences. upGrad does not guarantee scores or admissions.