April 22, 2019

What Math Formulas Are Given on the ACT/SAT?

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Math makes up a significant part of both the ACT and SAT.  Knowing which math formulas to expect from each test can help you prepare to take the test of your choice and get a good score.

Math Formulas Given on the SAT Test

College Board offers a handy official SAT study guide that shows which formulas you'll be expected to work with on the SAT test.  Geometrical formulas and formulas pertaining to degrees are provided on the test itself, which means you won't have to memorize this information before taking the test.  Even so, it is highly recommended that you practice working with the formulas in question so you can solve problems quickly and easily using them. 

Math Formulas Given on the ACT Test

Sadly, the ACT does not provide a comprehensive list of geometrical formulas like the SAT does.  While the ACT does offer information pertaining to complex geometrical formulas and trigonometry identities, test-takers will need to memorize basic geometrical and other important math formulas before taking the test in order to get a good score.  These include the formula for Pythagorean identity, the fundamental counting principle, and the formula for determining an average (or mean).

Now What?

If you don't have a good memory, it can be daunting to have to learn a bunch of formulas by heart.  If that is the case, you may want to consider taking the SAT rather than the ACT.  While the SAT has more math questions than the ACT, it does offer formula information you need to provide accurate answers. 

On the other hand, don't immediately ditch the ACT in favor of the SAT just because you're put off by the idea of having to learn a bunch of math formulas by heart.  The ACT has its advantages as well, including allowance for using a calculator throughout the entire math section and fewer math questions than the SAT.

Those who aren't sure about memorizing a lot of math formulas may want to try out a few SAT and ACT practice tests to see which one is the best fit.  UWorld offers a number of great practice exams coupled with comprehensive assistance to help you shore up your weak areas.  Furthermore, taking practice exams will help you use the fundamental math formula information in the correct manner, a skill that is just as important as memorizing the formulas in the first place.

Now that you know what formula information to expect from the ACT and SAT, it's time to act on the information you have.  Make a list of any formulas you need to memorize and hang it in a place where you can review it regularly.  Use ACT and SAT practice tests to make sure you know how to use the formulas properly.  With time and practice, you'll learn the skills you'll need to ace the exam of your choice.


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