Many students struggle to finish the ACT math paper. This is either because they run out of time, or because they can’t solve the more difficult problems. One good way to get around that is to aim to complete only part of the paper. This is a great strategy if you’re aiming for a math score in the 20-30 range. If you want above a 30, you need to attempt all the questions (you can probably get away with 2 or 3 guesses).

Here’s a strategy for getting to a 21: You need to get roughly half the questions right.

- First 30 minutes: Aim to answer questions 1-20. Count the number of questions you have to skip, and put a * by any questions that you’re unsure of.
- Next 20 minutes: From questions 20-45, try to answer 15, plus the number you needed to skip from the first 20. This means you’ll have answered 35 questions without guessing any. Fill in the bubble sheet with what you have so far.
- Last 10 minutes: Go back to the * questions, see if you can finish any.

Here’s a strategy for getting to a 25: You need to get about 38/60 to get this score.

- First 30 minutes: Work through questions 1-30. Count the number of questions you have to skip, and put a * by any questions that you’re unsure of.
- Next 20 minutes: Focus on questions 30-60. If you read the question and have no idea, cross through it. If you can solve it, but it’s taking too long, put a * by it and come back to it later. Don’t forget that although the questions go in order of difficulty, there are sometimes some easy questions at the end of the test. Don’t write of questions 55-60, you may be able to do them. Fill in the bubble sheet with what you have so far.
- Last 10 minutes: Go back to the * questions, see what you can do.

Here’s a strategy for getting to a 30: You need to get approximately 50 questions right. This means you need to attempt almost the whole paper.

- First 20 minutes: Do questions 1-30. Work at a steady pace, don’t rush. If you can get this bit right, you have a huge time bonus for the harder questions. It’s essential that you practice this a lot so that you know what pace enables you to do 30 questions in 20 minutes.
- Next 20 minutes: Tackle questions 30-50. You’re now working at 1 minute per question. If you have to skip any, replace them with questions from 50-60. For example, if you skip questions 37 and 42, you need to do questions 51 and 52 instead. Put a * by any you think you should come back to.
- Next 10 minutes: Investigate questions 50-60. See what you can do. If there’s any that you don’t have a clue about, put a line through. Also fill in your bubble sheet in this time.
- Last 10 minutes: Go back over your * questions. Anything you can get here is a bonus, because you’ve already answered 50+ questions.

What’s your timing strategy? Is it working for you?