Are you looking for ACT Math Shortcuts to ace your upcoming exam? If you’re taking the ACT soon and you need some extra tips to help speed up or make sure you get the correct answer, then read on! This blog will cover some tricks to help you get that perfect score.
Tip #1: Complex Numbers
Complex number problems are those that generally have the imaginary number i in them. If you’ve never learned about i, then we recommend you check out the chapter on imaginary numbers in our ACT Math books. This tip helps with imaginary number equations.
This ACT math shortcut involves whipping out your trusty TI-84 graphing calculator. The first thing you’ll want to do is check your calculators mode. Press the mode button, and make sure that a+bi is selected. Now we can proceed to do imaginary number questions! Simply locate the i on the bottom of your calculator, and type the equation into the screen. You may think the equation isn’t too difficult to solve on your own, but why waste that time if you don’t have to!
If you have a newer calculator it might be easier to work with for this problem, but older calculators can also be used. You may notice on an older calculator there will be extra characters to the right of your answer (the video example shows -2E -13 i). This amount is so small that it’s basically nonexistent, which is why it can be ignored. Newer calculators won’t show this.
Tip #2: Graphs
We actually have two ACT math shortcuts that involve graphs. Our first is about pluck points. When we’re talking about pluck points, we mean points that are easy to “pluck” when you look at a graph problem. In the video example we can see that there are 3 different equations we are asked to graph. Instead of going through the trouble to graph everything, we can simply pluck points to eliminate answer choices. For example, if f(x)= -x+2 when x≤-1, then we can plug in -1 to find the point (-1, 3). Immediately, we can see some answers don’t have that point on their graphs, and we know they are wrong.
Our second graph shortcut is pretty simple: when in doubt, graph it out! If you have a graphing calculator to help with the exam, take advantage of it. You can find solutions, vertexes, zeroes for an equation, significant points, etc. Don’t waste time trying to graphs something in your head if you can simply plug it into the calculator instead.
Tip #3: Percents
This percent shortcut may be one you’ve heard before, but we’re often surprised by how many people don’t! When working with percents, remember to think about what percent is preserved from a number rather than what is taken off. You can find this by subtracting 1 from the percent in its decimal form.
In the video example, we know that Gary decreased his 6 minute mile time by 15%, followed by an additional 12% later. This means he preserved 85% of his time, followed by an additional 88%. To find what percent of his original mile time his new time is, all we need to do now is multiply .85 x .88= .748. This means his new mile time is 74.8% of his old time.
ACT Test Prep
If you’re interested in learning even more ACT math shortcuts, you can find this information and a whole lot more on our course, “The Best ACT Prep Course Ever.” Learn how to ace the ACT with 70+ hours of video instruction, and over 1,000 practice problems!