How to Improve Your ACT Math Score

Student writing on paper preparing to improve the ACT Math Score
December 15, 2023


Reviewed by:

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 12/15/23

Are you wondering how to improve your ACT math score? We’ve got you covered! Read on to learn about ACT math strategies from some of the top experts in the US.

The ACT is a standardized test commonly used by colleges in the USA and Canada to assess applicants for undergraduate admission. It is one of the two most popular tests for high school students to take for college applications, with the other being the SAT. 

The ACT intends to measure how well students have learned high-school-level courses, especially the prerequisites for entry-level college courses. The ACT is composed of four subject tests and one optional writing test. The four subject tests include:

  • English 
  • Mathematics
  • Reading
  • Science

This article will go over some excellent ACT math tips and help you to improve your scores for the ACT Math test. 

ACT Math Tips to Improve Your Score

Now that we have covered important things to understand about the ACT Math test and score, let’s jump into specific ways you can improve your performance on the ACT Math test.

Here are useful strategies for the ACT Math section. 

1. Know What The Test Covers

Familiarize yourself with the content of the ACT math test to prepare. Remember not to neglect basic concepts. Fundamentals are crucial, and overlooking them is a sure-fire way to make avoidable mistakes.

2. Preparing for Higher Mathematics

It’s also crucial that you prepare for higher mathematics, including:

Number and Quantity

  • Understanding real and complex number systems, including natural numbers, integers, rational numbers, irrational numbers, real numbers, and complex numbers.
  • Knowledge of basic number concepts such as rounding, order of digits, pattern identification, primes, greatest common factor, etc.
  • Ability to understand, reason with, and perform operations with different forms of numerical values, including integers, decimals, rational exponents, vectors, and matrices.


  • Understanding types of algebraic equations: linear, polynomial, radical, exponential.
  • Ability to calculate algebraic equations and expressions, solve, graph, and model algebraic expressions, find solutions for systems of algebraic equations, and understand simple algebraic inequalities.


  • Understanding various kinds of functions: linear, radical, piecewise, polynomial, exponential, logarithmic.
  • Ability to identify and define functions, understand and use a coordinate plane, and graph and represent functions.


  • Understanding shapes and solids, especially triangles.
  • Ability to calculate missing lengths, perimeters, surface areas, volumes, and use trigonometry.
  • Understanding and applying concepts such as congruence and similarity, angles associated with parallel lines, and basic angle properties.

Statistics and Probability

  • Understanding the ability to calculate essential values in statistics, interpret graphs, tables, and charts, and calculate probability.
  • Understanding terms like "and," "or," and "not."

3. Integrating Essential Skills

  • Able to use multiple concepts, skills, and practices together to solve complex questions.
  • Ability to apply concepts, knowledge, skills, and practices into real-life situations.
  • Understanding numerical values and measurements commonly used in real life, including rates, percentages, area, surface area, volume, etc.

4. Search The ACT Website

The ACT website provides helpful information for test preparation, including guides, online lessons, and practice tests. It offers free tests and is a crucial resource for announcements and updates about the test.

5. Solve the Questions First

When working on a question, solve it on a scrap piece of paper before checking the choices. This helps avoid distractions and provides insight into potential mistakes.

6. Do Easy Questions First

As questions are not ranked in any particular order, start with easy questions to save time, boost confidence, and potentially find clues for solving harder questions.

7. Do Well in School

Capitalize on your high school education to excel in the ACT. Doing well in current math classes increases the chance of success in the ACT. Stay connected with math teachers for additional support.

If you want a free resource to help you prepare for the exam, check out this Free ACT Practice Questions Pop Quiz with explanations! 

How Are You Scored on ACT Math?

Like the other sections, the score of your ACT Math ranges between 1 to 36. It is determined by the number of questions that you answer correctly. This means there are no penalties for guessing. 

In the previous section, you can see that the ACT Math is broken down into different sections and subsections, each of which takes up different parts of the ACT Math test. Therefore, each section weighs differently in respect to the final overall score of the math test. The breakdown is shown as the following:

  • The “Preparing for Higher Math” section questions take up around 57% to 60% of the final score.
  • The “Integrating Essential Skills” section questions take up around 40% to 43% of the final score.
  • The five subsections of the “Preparing for Higher Math” section can be broken down into the following:
  • The “Number & Quantity” sub-section questions take up about 7% to10% of the final score.
  • The “Algebra” questions take up about 12% to 15% of the final score.
  • The “Functions” questions take up about 12% to 15% of the final score.
  • The “Geometry” questions take up about 12% to 15% of the final score.
  • Questions in “Statistics & Probability” take up about 8% to 12% of the final score.
  • The “modeling” section is not its own section, so all the questions in this section are distributed throughout the previous two sections.

FAQs: Improving Your ACT Math Score

Here are our answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about ACT tips for math.

1. Are calculators allowed for ACT Math?

Yes, but only the ones that contain nothing more than calculating functions. Graphing calculators and calculating apps on other devices, such as phones and personal computers, are all prohibited. Further instructions about the calculator policies for the ACT can be found here

2. What Math Is on the ACT?

The math section of the ACT covers a range of mathematical concepts typically taught in high school. Here are some of the main topics that are tested on the math section:

  • Pre-Algebra
  • Elementary Algebra
  • Intermediate Algebra
  • Coordinate Geometry
  • Plane Geometry
  • Trigonometry

It is important to note that the math section of the ACT does not include any calculus or other advanced topics beyond what is taught in high school.

3. How Many Questions are on the ACT Math Section?

The ACT Math section consists of 60 multiple-choice questions and has a time limit of 60 minutes. This means students have an average of one minute to answer each question. 

4. What Is A Good Score for the ACT Math Section?

The ACT Math section is scored on a scale of 1 to 36, with 36 being the highest possible score. What is considered a good score on the math section depends on the college or university you are applying to and their admissions requirements. However, a good score on the ACT Math section is typically considered to be in the range of 25 to 30 or above.

5. Is A 21 on the Math ACT Good?

A score of 21 on the ACT Math section is slightly below the national average of 20.4%. While it is not a particularly strong score, 21 is still considered a passing score and may meet the minimum requirements for admission to some colleges and universities.

Final Thoughts

It is undoubted that the ACT test is essential for students looking to apply for colleges. The ACT Math test is one of the four mandatory subjects, so doing well in this section could determine your chances of getting offers of admission. Fortunately, the ACT Math test is not too difficult, but it certainly requires lots of time and hard work if you wish to do well. 

The ACT Math test material consists of concepts you have likely already learned in school, so you can utilize school work to practice and improve your performance, and, chances are, you have your trustworthy teachers available. If you put in the time, effort, and eagerness, improving your score is certainly achievable, and you’ll be able to get a test score you’re satisfied with!

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