Love it or hate it, math makes up ¼ of the ACT test and ½ of the SAT.
Students often attribute a less-than-stellar math score to the fact that they have not had pre-calc when, in fact, there is very little pre-calc/trig on these tests.
Math concepts from pre-algebra up through early pre-calc are fair game. Geometry questions make up about 30% of the ACT test, while the SAT places much less emphasis on Geometry (only about 6%). Both tests place heavy emphasis on algebra topics.
The ACT only has 4-6 pre-calc questions with 3-4 of those questions on a topic covered in geometry class (who remembers SOH-CAH-TOA??), while the SAT only has 2% of the questions related to trig.
Advanced math students sometimes find they have forgotten some of the earlier foundational math concepts, so reviewing pre-algebra and algebra 1 concepts they’ve not seen since junior high will benefit these students. Weaker math students should focus on the first ¾ of the test where the easier questions tend to hang out.
Regardless of how you feel about math, students who have completed course work up through algebra 2 have been exposed to at least 95% of the material on the test, so there is no reason to be intimidated by the math portion of the ACT and/or SAT. Algebra 2 completion is in the driver seat of when to test. Attend our ACT-SAT Planning Seminar to figure out the best, individualized timeline for you to test – one size does not fit all!
Are Calculators Allowed?
While students can use their calculator on the entire math portion of the ACT; the SAT is made up of a non-calculator section and a calculator section. Keep in mind, there are many ACT questions designed to be answered without a calculator – they just won’t require you to put it away. If you don’t though, you may waste valuable time on questions quickly answered without calculator assistance. Be sure you are using an “approved” calculator policy by checking the ACT or SAT site before test day.
SAT Abandons Multiple Choice?!
Both of the SAT sections contain open-ended questions where no answer choices are provided. Students must enter their answers for these questions into an answer grid. Don’t be intimidated – just think of it as math you do at school!