The ACT Math Shortlist

The Math section of the ACT covers a wide range of topics, from basic arithmetic and pre-algebra to logarithms, imaginary numbers, and advanced Algebra II. Preparing for such an exam can seem like an overwhelming task, and it is easy to feel paralyzed by the sheer quantity of material covered in so many years of math courses. Fortunately, not all math topics are created equal, and the test tends to favor certain topics over others. Contained here is a shortlist of topics to start with for those of you who don’t quite know where to start!

Linear Equations

Linear functions are of paramount importance in mathematics and thus appear frequently on the ACT. The test will require you to find slopes of lines, given the coordinates of two points (remember: “rise ÷ run”), and to use these slopes to find the equations of the lines. Once you have the slope, you should use slope-intercept form if a y-intercept is provided, and point-slope form if the coordinates of a point on the line are provided.


Systems of Linear Equations

Linear functions also appear frequently on the ACT in systems of linear equations. These types of problems usually contain two equations with two variables each – often x and y, but not always – and have no exponents. The most common way to solve these equations is through the substitution method. Keep in mind that there are precisely three possible outcomes: one solution for each variable (i.e. the two lines intersect at exactly one point), zero solutions for each variable (i.e. the two lines are parallel), and infinite solutions for each variable (i.e. the two equations are actually one and the same line).


Quadratic Equations

Next come quadratic equations, which graph to parabolas. The first step to solving quadratics is to get everything on one side of the equation and zero on the other. Only once this has been done can the equation be solved! The three primary methods of solving are then:

  1. Factoring the expression and setting each factor equal to zero
  2. Graphing the function on your calculator and using the ZERO function under the CALC menu
  3. Plugging in the constants of the function (a, b, and c) into the quadratic formula.


Triangles appear on the ACT in a wide variety of contexts, but there are a number of basic things you must always keep in mind. All triangles contain angles that sum up to 180°, and the area of any triangle equals base x height ÷ two. For right triangles, in particular, the Pythagorean Theorem can be used to solve for the length of a third side if given the lengths of the other two. Right-triangle trigonometry will make an appearance as well, so at some point, you will likely be asked to set up (and possibly solve) a trigonometric equation using SOH-CAH-TOA.


Area, Perimeter, and Volume

In addition to the area of a triangle, you should also have memorized the equations for the areas of a circle, rectangle, and trapezoid. For circles, you should also know how to calculate the perimeter, known as the circumference of the circle. 3-D solids appear less frequently than 2-D shapes, but you should also be prepared to calculate the volumes of a rectangular prism and cylinder.


This is by no means an exhaustive list of topics on the ACT Math, but it should serve as a starting point for any student preparing for the exam. If you can master these topics, you should be able to answer a majority of the first 30-40 questions of the test, and you’ll be off to a great start. Good luck!

LogicPrep in CNBC: Colleges Aren't Looking for Well-Rounded Students

One common misconception in the college application process is that colleges are only interested in well-rounded students who are perfect in every way. So, what are colleges actually looking for? Students who are passionate and have specific strengths.

College consultant and former Stanford admissions officer Grace spoke with CNBC reporter Abigail Hess about why colleges aren't looking for well-rounded students.

"Not every student who is admitted to Stanford or Harvard or Northwestern or any of these schools needs to be good at everything," she argues. "In fact, it's sometimes even more fun when you meet a student who is very angular. A student who, you know, leans very much in one direction."

A Season of Gratitude for College Applicants

As the new year is upon us and the days are incrementally longer, I’m grateful the winter solstice has passed and…for Regents Earth Science.

At this time of year, I’m thankful for my earth science teacher, for the pleasures of plotting the daily motion of the sun across the sky (grease pencils and plastic hemispheres in the high school parking lot), and for the pride he instilled in our great planet and its tilted axis—without which there’d be no seasons!

As you return to school and continue to plot your path from high school to college, what are you grateful for? Consider asking yourself whether a teacher or member of your school community has--

  • Advocated for you
  • Imparted good advice
  • Influenced your educational trajectory
  • Inspired your interests
  • Prepared you in some way for life beyond high school

If so, now is the time to say thank you. Why?

The benefits of expressing gratitude are well established. Gratitude can enhance empathy, improve physical and mental health and even help you get better sleep. But the very exercise of identifying an individual who has contributed to your educational priorities or values also will help bring into focus what matters and is important to you. Cultivating gratitude therefore has its own intrinsic rewards and can help foster a strong sense of self that will result in greater equanimity along the path from high school to college. 

Some of you have just put the finishing touches on applications or are awaiting decisions from various colleges. Now is a perfect time to write a note of thanks to a teacher or counselor who has supported you through the application process. Don’t wait—your gratitude is not outcome dependent! And while you’re at it, consider expressing gratitude to family members who’ve facilitated visits to colleges near and far, familiarized themselves with application components, or financed various aspects of the college search and application process.

The benefits of gratitude can prove a surprisingly effective antidote to aspects of the admission process that otherwise tend to erode self-esteem. The sooner you cultivate gratitude, the better you’ll feel and the better able you are to spot new opportunities to express appreciation.

January 2018 promises to be a banner month for an earth science enthusiast—with a first full moon on January 1st and a second full moon on January 31st (a Blue Moon). In between now and then I intend to thank my earth science teacher for a lifetime interest in the earth-sky-related phenomena. Who will you thank? We look forward to hearing from you!

LogicPrep in CNBC: 3 Common College Essay Mistakes to Avoid

With college application deadlines just over one week away, high school Seniors are looking forward to completing their essays this holiday season. 

Our College Consultant Grace spoke with CBNC reporter Abigail Hess about 3 common college essay mistakes and how to avoid them.

"We always said when I was an admissions officer, we want it to be so personal to the student that you couldn't put anyone else's name on that essay and have it still be true about that other student," Grace says. "Make sure that whatever story you decide to tell really highlights the adjectives you want the admissions officer to know about you."

What are the other common mistakes? Read the full article here.

LogicPrep in CNBC: The Key to a Perfect College Essay

With the college application deadlines looming, many students are putting finishing touches on their college essays. How important are these essays? VERY important. 

Grace spoke with CNBC reporter Abigail Hess about the key to a perfect college essay. 

"Its funny, because I think my application essay is something I would advise students not to write about now," she tells CNBC Make It. "Often times we see essays about service trips that people do abroad and mine actually was about a trip that I took to Costa Rica with my church."

How can you be sure your essay is perfect? Be sure to read the full interview here.

LogicPrep in Real Simple: 6 Questions to Ask When Your Child Brings Home a Disappointing Report Card

There are few things more disappointing than thinking your child is doing well in school and then realizing they're really not. But don't panic! Our Director of Academic Advisor Eli recently spoke with Laura Asmundsson of Real Simple about getting your child's grades back on track. 

“It’s not the worst thing if your child doesn’t do well on a report card,” Eli says. “It’s a great opportunity to figure out where this is coming from and set them up with good habits going forward.”

What questions can you ask yourself or your child if you find yourself in this predicament? Be sure to read the full article by clicking the button below.

Where were you when you got into college?


It's that time of year when all of the hard work pays off and high school Seniors lives' change forever.

In the 2016-2017 application cycle, 93% of LogicPrep students were accepted into one of their top three schools. We asked some alumni to share where they were when they got accepted into college. Watch their reactions below!

Looking forward to hearing our Seniors’ stories next week!

LogicPrep in Forbes Magazine: Making an Impact

You may remember that LogicPrep recently won the Audience Choice Award from the Forbes Main Street Awards, a contest designed to champion impact of small businesses that are leading the way forward by taking big steps for both their businesses and their communities.

We just received the latest issue of Forbes and were so excited to see LogicPrep inside!

Read the article here and be sure to pick up a copy of the December 12 issue of Forbes Magazine to check out the feature for yourself!

And thanks again for helping us win the Audience Choice Award!

5 Helpful Tips for Hopeful Pre-Med Students

Many of our students are have dreams of careers in the medical field, and it can be daunting trying to figure out what programs each school offers. I have a relative who just went through this process at Emory University. Emory does not have a pre-med major, but they do have a pre-med “track” and an amazing Pre-health Mentoring Office to help make sure you know everything you need to know about getting into medical school. Here are a few tips I learned that I think would be really helpful to all of you pre-med hopefuls, no matter the university you plan to attend.

Emory University

Pre-med is hard! Know what you’re getting into.

Shadow physicians as often as you can, volunteer in a hospital or clinic, and imagine yourself in the doctor’s shoes. It is important to get as much exposure as you can as early as possible, to make sure this is really what you want to spend the rest of your life doing.


You don’t have to be a science major to be pre-med.

Major in whatever you want! I have had friends major in English, Business, even Art History- that have all been successful pre-med students and gotten into medical school!


Start planning early.

Meet with an academic or pre-med advisor to make sure you know what pre-requisites you need to take and when. Consider whether you may want to go straight to medical school after college or take a gap year. Here is a helpful planning tool:


Make the most of your summers.

Consider taking summer courses, volunteering, shadowing, or doing research in a lab. You will thank yourself later when you can take a lighter course load one semester because you took pre-requisites over the summer or when you are working on your applications and you can draw upon all of the diverse and interesting experiences you had volunteering or doing research.


Pay attention in class!

Not just to get good grades, but because you will need to know all of this information for the MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test). Doing your best to understand the concepts as you encounter them in class will help you later as you prepare to take the MCAT.

College was the best time of my life and I hope it will bring you the same joy and excitement that it did for me. Remember, school is important, but it is not your whole life. Spend time with your friends, get involved in whatever you’re passionate in, and learn something new from every moment – the good and the bad. Dream big, challenge yourself, and know that it’s ok to ask for help when you need it!