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4 Common ACT Math Mistakes And How To Avoid Them – San Mateo ACT SAT test prep tutoring

Math can be very challenging on the ACT. It is very fast paced and it requires you to know how to work with a wide breadth of math knowledge. Here are four mistakes that arise often that are likely to bring your score down.

1) Timing

The Math section on the ACT is very fast paced. You will need to answer 60 questions in 60 minutes. For many students this is the most challenging part of the math exam. Some of the questions will take you more than a minute to solve, so you will need to solve the easier questions faster to have time for the more challenging questions. The test moves from easiest to hardest progressively, so answer the first questions as quickly as you can. The best way to practice timing is to take timed practice tests. Don’t give yourself any wiggle room. Then you will develop a feel for how quickly you will need to move through each problem.

2) Formulas

The ACT doesn’t provide any formulas. You will need to have them all memorized. If you have taken geometry, trigonometry and algebra, you may feel that you have learned the formulas and will be able to recall them on the exam. However, if any time has passed since you have taken these courses, you may not be able to recall important formulas quickly. Review formulas and know how to use them, inside and out, so that you can call them up from your memory without hesitation.

3) Answering the Wrong Question

Math questions on the ACT tend to offer more information than is necessary to answer the question. If you employ the wrong value or work to answer the wrong question, you will make a mistake. Look at all the information given and carefully choose the information necessary for finding the solution. Don’t use numbers you don’t need.

4) Missing the Trick

The ACT often presents familiar questions in unfamiliar ways. It may offer different values or an equation in a different order than you are used to, but you probably know how to solve the problem. Start plugging in numbers or rearranging the equation until it looks like something you know how to work with. Once you know what you are working with, you are likely to find the right answer.


Knowing these four mistakes can help you avoid them. The best way to score well on the math portion of the ACT is to practice. The more familiar you are with how to read and answer questions, the easier it will be on the day of the exam. At Mr. Test Prep you will practice the exam in timed conditions and address your trouble spots immediately. Then you can know how to focus your studies to be successful on the exam.


San Mateo ACT SAT test prep tutoring


Mr. Test Prep has been a part of the San Mateo SAT Prep community for nearly 20 years. His experience working with students—from math wizzes to numberphobes, from novelists-in-training to kids who hate to read—has shown him that improving test results first requires improving a student’s confidence. To directly address this important facet of SAT prep, his tutoring program exposes students to the conditions of the test, while training them in subject-specific skills and teaching them testing strategies that can make the test much easier.

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