Teach Yourself: ACT Self-study guide (Mathematics only)
Please read the whole of this page before purchasing IDK resources. It is strongly advised students attempt to prepare themselves for the exam as a first port of call:
- Purchase the Official Real ACT Prep Guide. This is a comprehensive resource produced by the ACT exam board itself. The book contains 5 practice tests.
- Complete and grade at least one practice test. This will familiarise students with the format of the exam and allows students to identify their own problem areas.
- Decide whether external help is required and in which areas.
Other practice tests are available here.
SCOPE OF THIS GUIDE
It is not possible to cover all of the content required for the ACT exam.
- The Maths section looks at algebra, geometry and data-handling. It will cover the vast majority of the concepts required for the ACT exam.
- Please refer to the Maths index for a full list of topics covered.
- This guide does not look at the following areas of maths: simultaneous equations/systems of equations, logarithms, complex numbers, graphs of polynomial functions, parametric equations, matrices, proportionality/percentages, working with trigonometry quadrants.
ABOUT THE EXAM
The ACT exam is not like standard UK academic exams (GCSE's/A-levels) in which extensive subject-specific knowledge is required.
- The top students at GCSE should be able to self-teach these exams with very little outside help.
- Exam technique is more important than subject knowledge hence preparation for the ACT should only take a couple of months maximum.
The exam is split into four compulsory components- Maths, English, Reading and Science.
- The English, Reading and Science sections rely on a students reading ability, deduction skills and exam technique- only minimal subject specific knowledge is required for science.
- The maths section requires the most subject knowledge. Students taught to an A* GCSE level will have covered 95% of the content required for the exam.
- There is an optional writing section that is required by some U.S universities. Please enquire directly with your chosen university if you're unsure whether the writing section is required.
The Maths, English, Reading and Science sections each have an equal weighting towards your overall score. These are scaled for each section (see individual practice papers) then averaged to give a composite score. The maximum scaled score for each section is 36 and the maximum composite score is also 36.
With the exception of the essay section, the test is multiple choice with no negative marking. You are unlikely to be in the position to answer all of the questions but educated guessing is essential. This is not the case with the SAT exam where you are penalized for incorrect answers.
ON TEST DAY
- Bring yourself a banana and a bottle of water. The ACT is a long exam requiring an extended period of concentration.
- Look over your formula sheet repeatedly. You should have memorized these formulae before the day of the exam anyway!