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The math portion of the ACT is designed to test the math skills you’ve learned up through the start of your senior year. It includes 60 multiple-choice questions. You have 60 minutes to complete it. The test makes you use reasoning skills to solve practical math problems. It tests your knowledge of basic formulas and computational skills, not complex formulas. You can use a calculator for this portion of the test.
The math test includes six different sections—pre-algebra, elementary algebra, intermediate algebra, coordinate geometry, plane geometry, and trigonometry.
You receive four scores on the math test: one overall score out of 60; a pre-algebra and elementary algebra sub-score out of 24; an intermediate algebra and coordinate geometry sub-score out of 18; and a plane geometry and trigonometry sub-score out of 18.
The content of the Science Test includes biology, chemistry, physics, and the Earth/space sciences (for example, geology, astronomy, and meteorology). Advanced knowledge in these subjects is not required, but background knowledge acquired in general, introductory science courses is needed to answer some of the questions. The test emphasizes scientific reasoning skills over recall of scientific content, skill in mathematics, or reading ability.
The main goal of Algebra 1 is to develop fluency in working with linear equations. Students will extend their experiences with tables, graphs, and equations. They will solve linear equations, inequalities, and systems of linear equations. Students will extend their knowledge of the number system to include irrational numbers. Students will generate equivalent expressions and use formulas. Students will simplify polynomials and begin to study quadratic relationships.
Algebra 1 students learn to use and understand the following five fundamental concepts:
1. Simplify expressions
2. Solve equations/inequalities
3. Use numerical representations
4. Use graphical representations
5. Use algebraic notation
Algebra II is designed to build on algebraic and geometric concepts. It develops advanced algebra skills such as systems of equations, advanced polynomials, imaginary and complex numbers, quadratics, and concepts and includes the study of trigonometric functions. It also introduces matrices and their properties. The content of this course is important for students’ success on both the ACT and SAT college mathematics entrance exams.
Geometry is designed to emphasize the study of the properties and applications of common geometric figures in two and three dimensions. It includes the study of transformations and right triangle trigonometry. Inductive and deductive thinking skills are used in problem solving situations, and applications to the real world are stressed. It also emphasizes writing proofs to solve (prove) properties of geometric figures.
The Quantitative sections measure a student’s ability to solve mathematical problems and interpret data presented in graphical form. These sections contain four distinct question categories:
Multiple-Choice (select one answer choice) – these questions present a mathematical problem and require students to select exactly one correct answer choice from among the five presented.
Multiple-Choice (select one or more answer choices) – these questions present a mathematical problem that may have more than one solution among the answer choices; students must select each answer choice that applies. Students do not receive credit unless they select all and only those answer choices that are correct.
Numeric Entry – students must type the answer to a mathematical problem into the answer box provided.
Quantitative Comparison – students must select the answer choice that accurately describes the relationship between the quantity in column A and the one in column B:
(A) always means that the quantity in column A is greater;
(B) always means that the quantity in column B is greater
(C) always means that the two quantities are equal; and
(D) always means that there is not enough information to determine which quantity is greater
Questions from all four categories are intermixed throughout each Quantitative section.
Each question type covers at least one of four basic areas of mathematics: arithmetic, algebra, geometry, or data analysis. Data analysis questions require students to interpret charts or graphs and typically appear in clusters of three or four, all of which pertain to the same graphical data. There is no trigonometry or calculus on the GRE, nor are there any questions that require mathematical knowledge beyond what most American students learn in the first two years of high school.
Students who take the computerized version of the test have access to an on-screen calculator for the Quantitative sections. Students who take the paper version have the option of using a calculator provided at the test site.
The goal of Prealgebra is to develop fluency with rational numbers and proportional relationships. Students will extend their elementary skills and begin to learn algebra concepts that serve as a transition into formal Algebra and Geometry. Students will learn to think flexibly about relationships among fractions, decimals, and percents. Students will learn to recognize and generate equivalent expressions and solve single-variable equations and inequalities. Students will investigate and explore mathematical ideas and develop multiple strategies for analyzing complex situations. Students will analyze situations verbally, numerically, graphically, and symbolically. Students will apply mathematical skills and make meaningful connections to life's experiences.
The math sections measure a student’s ability to reason quantitatively, solve mathematical problems, and interpret data presented in graphical form. These sections focus on four areas of mathematics that are typically covered in the first three years of American high school education: Arithmetic, Algebra and Functions, Geometry, and Data Analysis. The Algebra section was recently expanded to include basic College Algebra. To test these skills, the SAT employs two different question types:
The multiple-choice questions carry a .25-point penalty for incorrect answers. The grid-in questions carry no penalty for wrong answers, because the likelihood of guessing the correct answer is negligible.
The format of the three sections is:
25 minutes: 20 Multiple-Choice questions
25 minutes: 8 Multiple-Choice questions followed by 10 Grid-ins.
20 minutes: 16 Multiple-Choice questions