What Students Should Know About ACT Math Test Format & Structure

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Are you preparing for the ACT math test? Some teachers hold after-school sessions devoted to ACT test prep, or incorporate some prep activities into their regular lesson plans. Make sure you take advantage of any study help you can. However, as with most exams, a key factor to success is familiarity with the format and content. Familiarize yourself with the test’s structure to feel more confident on test day.


The ACT math test covers what students typically learn in their high school math courses by the end of 11th grade. There are 60 questions on every test and the breakdown of content is always the same. Nine questions deal with intermediate algebra, nine with coordinate geometry, and 14 with pre-algebra. There are 10 elementary algebra problems, 14 questions about plane geometry, and four trigonometry problems. Students are allowed 60 minutes to complete the 60 problems.


All 60 questions on the test are multiple-choice. The tests are scored based on the number of correct answers and there is no penalty for guessing. You will be expected to know basic formulas.

Calculator Policy

Calculators are allowed on the ACT math tests, but only those on an approved list. Check the list (provided in the information packet upon registration) well in advance of the test to make sure you have an approved calculator. You should bring a calculator you are familiar with using on the day of the test.


To best prepare for the test, first review concepts, definitions, and basic formulas. Then, work on plenty of practice problems. There are excellent materials available for this purpose, including free ACT practice tests for math. The information packet issued at the time of registration also contains practice problems that are very similiar to those on the actual tests.

Study smart, get a good night’s sleep before the text and good luck!

This post is part of the series: ACT Test Prep

This is a series of articles about various aspects of the ACT college entrance exam. Topics covered in the series include why ACT test prep is important, how to register for the exam, free resources for ACT test prep, and an in-depth look at the math section of the ACT.

  1. ACT Test Prep: An Introduction
  2. ACT Test Prep: Why It Is Important
  3. ACT Prep: Resources for Free Practice Tests
  4. What You Should Know About ACT Math Tests