Time Management Techniques for the ACT Math

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• 0:01 Act Math
• 1:00 Question Order & Skipping
• 3:42 Strategies
• 6:31 Lesson Summary

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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Elizabeth Foster

Elizabeth has been involved with tutoring since high school and has a B.A. in Classics.

Do you run out of time on your practice ACT Math section? You're not alone! In this lesson, you'll find tips and strategy hints for beating the clock and maximizing the number of questions you answer.

ACT Math

The ACT math test isn't just a test of how much math you can do. It's a test of how much math you can do fast. In fact, that's part of what makes it so tough. The test throws 60 questions at you in 60 minutes - one question per minute. That's not a lot of time, so you'll want to make every second count.

That doesn't mean just frantically trying to work faster, though. It's much better to use smart time management strategies and play up your own strengths. Time management means making effective use of your time, so you work smarter, not harder. In this lesson, you'll get some tips and advice for moving through the test fast, without sacrificing accuracy.

Question Order & Skipping

First of all, let's talk about how to approach the questions. Questions on the ACT Math are arranged roughly in order from easier to harder. So, start with the beginning, and work your way through the test.

On the other hand, you don't have to fixate on every question until you solve it. Every question is worth just as much as every other question. So, there's no benefit to killing yourself over the hard ones. Skipping a question and just bubbling in a random answer is perfectly okay if:

• You can't answer the question
• You could answer the question, but it would take way too long

But wait, if the questions go from easy to hard, why does it make sense to skip any? Won't they just keep getting harder down the line?

Well, first of all, they're arranged roughly in order from easy to hard; it's not an exact science. But more importantly, it often happens that students are better at one subject area than another. For example, let's say there's some student, Joe, and Joe is an algebra whiz but never quite got the hang of geometry.

Joe might start skipping geometry questions around question 30 or so, but he can still answer the algebra questions up to question 45. So even though those geometry questions would be 'easier' for a student who was equally good at everything, they're harder for him personally. It's still useful for Joe to start at the beginning and go from there, but he's also not married to the precise question order on the test. Instead, he's using smart time management strategies to pick the questions he's good at and leave the rest.

Just as a reminder though: even if you skip a question in the sense of not figuring it out, always bubble in something. There's no guessing penalty. So, at worst you'll get zero points, and at best, you'll get lucky and get the point anyway. It's a good idea to quickly glance through your answer sheet in the last 30 seconds of the test and make sure that you haven't left anything blank.

Strategies

By making smart choices about which questions to tackle and which ones to skip, you'll already save yourself a lot of time even if you don't get any faster at the questions themselves. But next we're going to talk about strategies to use once you're already working on a question. Here are three tips to get through the questions faster.

1. Look for formulas and principles. Brute-force arithmetic is rarely an effective way to solve ACT problems. If you're doing a large amount of annoying calculations, writing down huge columns of numbers, or spending a lot of time fiddling with arithmetic, there's probably a faster way to do the problem. For example, take this one:

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