The Format of the Math Test
The Format of the Math Test
The format of the ACT Math Test is straightforward. ACT simply lumps all the problems into one big list of math questions. The only visible quirk in formatting is that all the questions are printed in the left half of the page, while the right half is reserved for “your figuring.” We’ll discuss this empty space and what you should do with it in the Strategies section of this chapter.There are two other aspects of Math Test questions that you should keep in mind. We’ll describe them to you below.
Five, Not Four, Multiple Choice Answers
Unlike the three other ACT Subject Tests, the Math Test offers you five, not four, multiple choice answers. You should be aware of this fact when filling in the bubbles on the answer sheet. If you are answering choices D or J, don’t automatically fill in the last bubble in the row because you’ll really be filling in E or K. Again, this is just another reason to verbalize to yourself which blank you want to be filling in as you actually fill it in.
Guessing with the Extra Answer Choice
The additional answer choice will also affect your chances of guessing the right answer. If you plan to guess blindly on a math problem, your odds of getting the correct answer are one in five, or 20 percent. On the other Subject Tests, your chances are higher: one in four, or 25 percent. This difference of 5 percent really isn’t that big of a deal and shouldn’t change your guessing strategy. You should still guess on any question you can’t answer. Guess blindly if you have no clue about how to answer the question. But your best bet is always to eliminate whatever answer choices you can and then guess.
Question Types: Basic Problems and Word Problems
There are two kinds of questions on the ACT Math Test: basic problems and word problems. Word problems tend to be more difficult than basic problems simply because they require the additional step of translating the words into a numerical problem that you can solve. Of course, a basic problem on a complex topic will still likely be more difficult than a word problem on a very easy topic.
Basic Problems
Basic math problems are exactly how they sound: basic. You won’t see any complicated wording or context in these problems. They simply present you with a math problem in a no-frills fashion. If you encounter a basic math problem that asks you to calculate what two plus two is (you won’t), the question would look like this:
2 + 2 = ?
That’s pretty straightforward; you shouldn’t have a problem figuring out what this question wants you to do.
Word Problems
Word problems are so named because they use words to describe a math problem. These questions are by nature more complicated than basic math problems because you have to sort through the words to figure out the math problem beneath them. In essence, you have two steps: figuring out what the math problem is and then solving it.
For example, if you were asked for the same calculation of two plus two as a word problem, it might look something like this:
Jane has two green marbles, and Beth has two red marbles. Together, how many marbles do Jane and Beth have?
This question isn’t exactly complicated, but it is certainly more complicated than the basic version of the problem. The setting of the problem, rather than elucidating the question, only adds to its complexity. Your job on this and all word problems is to sort through the muck and translate the words into a straightforward math problem. A question like “Together, how many marbles do Jane and Beth have?” really means “Jane’s marbles plus Beth’s marbles equals what?” or ultimately “Two plus two equals what?”
Help | Feedback | Make a request | Report an error