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ACT Math Section

Teacher/Instructor Devorah Goldblatt
Devorah Goldblatt

Case Western Univ., summa cum laude
Perfect scorer on the SAT & the ACT

Devorah is the founder of Advantage Point Test Prep and the author of the book “Boost Your Score” The Unofficial Guide to the Real ACT.

Welcome to the Math section before we can start it let me tell you a little personal story. Junior year of high school I actually started working in a coffee shop in the summer. And I remember walking in and thinking, "Huh it's probably not too hard to make a bunch of people same coffee right? Huh," no it was hard. You know those people those personalized beverage choices? You know who you are things like, you know "Can you make this fat free? Oh my gosh this needs to skim and oh it's not skimmed enough. Do they make this in organic? Oh can I take out all the ingredients in this drink and still keep it the same drink?" Et cetera, et cetera more whip, this and that and I remember thinking oh my God it was so overwhelming all the different stuff involved. You know what after a couple of days I got it down I knew exactly what to expect, I knew exactly what do to. I was calm, I was relaxed and I did a great job. The Math section is exactly like this we're going to go over a lot of the concepts today briefly and we're going to look at them and think, "Oh my God that's a lot," there's a lot that's tested on the Math but don't get overwhelmed. In this course we're going to go through all the strategies and all the concepts that you need and you're going to do a great job on the Math section on test day.
Remember it's really important to know the instructions ahead of time so you don't waste time reading them on day test day. So let's take a look; instructions for the Math: 'After solving each problem pick the correct answer from the five given,' five answer choices here 'And fill in the corresponding oval on your answer sheet. Solve as many problems you can in the time allowed. Do not worry over problems that take too much time skip them if necessary, return to them is you have time. Calculator use is permitted on the test. Calculators can be used for any problem on the test though calculators maybe more harm than help for some questions.' Some notes: unless otherwise stated on the test you should assume the following: First, figures accompanying questions are not drawn to scale, meaning when you have a question with a diagram attached to it they're telling you it might be longer or shorter or bigger or smaller than it looks like not drawn to scale. Next, 'geometric figures exist in a plane,' nothing funky here it's going to look like high school Math. When given in a question 'line' refers to a straight line. And when given in a question 'average' refers to the 'arithmetic mean' so 'mean' is the same thing as average. So that's the instructions let's take a look at the format.
5 multiple choice answers instead of four. Remember the other sections have four answers attached to them and in Math they're five. Also 60 questions and 60 minutes to answer the questions kind of cool this is actually the longest you'll have to answer a question on the ACT, a minute per question. Great let's look at the question types that you'll see. There's two types first a really basic problem very straight forward like this, simple algebra and we'll tackle these actual problems later. But just to see what they'll look like. If you know five X plus three equals twenty three what's twelve X minus ten? Not a lot of words, straight forward simple Math problem. Then you've got word problems these are wordy that's why they're word problems, don't worry we've got great strategies for these. But you see a bunch of words and then again your five answer choices. And that's it, those are the two styles of questions that you're going to see.
We want to talk about the topics that you're going to see in the Math ACT. It's going to look like a lot as we go through and you may be feeling a little overwhelmed but don't worry. A couple of things you need to know first of all this is all stuff you reviewed in high school. So it should seem really familiar to you and we're going to review the top concepts that you'll need, so you'll feel really good about them on test day. Also on the ACT the Math questions aren't nearly as sneaky as they are on the SAT. So you'll feel really good, they're going to be really straight forward and we got some great strategies to help you get those questions right. So let's take a look at the topics. First we've got pre-algebra always 14 remember ACT is always so predictable it's great that you always know exactly what you expect from each topic on the Math section. 14 pre-algebra topics and these are things like multiples, factors, primes, absolute value, they're pretty algebra stuff you probably learned a long time ago and we'll review it. Next elementary algebra, always shows up ten times on your Math section. Things like inequalities, simplifying algebraic equations, substitution just basic algebra concepts. Next intermediate algebra these are the tougher algebra questions. A lot of students have trouble with this, but don't worry it's cool you know they're only nine and we'll go over them. These test things like quadratic equations, logarithms, functions, solving systems of equations.
Next, plane geometry. These are the questions you usually think of when you think geometry, things like circles, triangles, squares okay and 14, so that's a lot of plane geometry. Next, coordinate geometry, nine of these, these are the things about lines, slopes, angles you know parallel or perpendicular lines, how equations look on a graph. And last we've got trigonometry four questions about things like SOHCAHTOA, we'll go over what that is if you need a review. And different trigonometric identities and graphs. Those are the topics tested on the Math section and how cool that you'll know exactly how many times they'll show up each time. So this really helps you, if you need to pin point your strengths and weaknesses. Look and see how many times each concept is showing up. You know, you really want to review your plane geometry if you don't feel great about it because it's showing up 14 times. Same thing with pre-algebra. On the hand if you're running out of time, you really rushing to study for this test you may not have to worry about trigs so much because it's only showing up four times.
Let's recap. We talked about the instructions so you'll know exactly what you're going to see on test day and you don't have to waste any time reading them. We talked about the format again so you'll know exactly what to expect five answer choices, not four. And we've our two question types we talked about the basic ones and the word problems. And last we talked about the topics we already broke it down and talked about how predictable they really are and how often they show up. And that's how you're going to know exactly where you need to direct your time and your energy to prepare before test day. So just like my time at Star Box at that time I felt totally overwhelmed, it was pretty crazy and then afterwards, I just did it enough times and I learned about it and I felt really comfortable and confident and relaxed and I nailed it. That's exactly how you're going to be on the Math section. By the time we finish going through the Math episodes you're going to know exactly what to expect, you're going to have great strategies and you're going to do a fabulous, fabulous job on the Math part of the ACT.