Mastering the First 20 Questions: A Crucial ACT Math Strategy

By Steven Darby - February 19, 2024

Achieving a high score on the ACT Math section is a critical goal for many students seeking admission to top colleges and universities. To excel in this section, it's essential to adopt effective strategies, and one such strategy is mastering the first 20 questions. In this blog post, we will delve into the importance of paying careful attention to operations and steps in these initial questions and highlight the significance of these "goal questions" in setting the tone for a strong ACT Math performance.

The Importance of the First 20 Questions:

The ACT Math section consists of 60 questions to be completed in 60 minutes. Among these, the first 20 questions are considered the foundation upon which your overall score is built. These questions are generally designed to be more straightforward and can be seen as the building blocks for the more complex problems that follow.

Why Are They "Goal Questions"?

We refer to the first 20 questions as "goal questions" because successfully answering them can set a positive momentum for the rest of the section. These questions are designed to be more manageable and can be completed relatively quickly if you approach them strategically. By doing so, you conserve valuable time and gain confidence, which can be instrumental when tackling the more challenging problems later in the test.

Key Strategies for Success:

  • Paying Attention to Operations and Steps:

    • Take the time to read each question carefully, paying special attention to the operations and steps required to solve it.

    • Avoid rushing through these initial questions; instead, aim for precision and accuracy.

  • Using Your Calculator Wisely:

    • While the first 20 questions may involve arithmetic operations, using your calculator for calculations can help conserve your mental energy.

    • Ensure that your calculator is functioning correctly and that you are comfortable with its functions.

  • Practicing Smart Pacing:

    • Maintain a steady pace when answering these questions, ensuring that you allocate sufficient time to each.

    • Avoid getting stuck on a single question; if you're unsure, mark it and return to it later.

  • Building Confidence:

    • Successfully answering these early questions can boost your confidence for the remainder of the section.

    • Confidence can help you tackle more challenging problems with a positive mindset.

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