Pillar III: Use What You Know

Words of “Wiz-dom”—The ACT is not a test that simply indicates how much you know. It is a test of academic achievement. Its purpose is to indicate how ready you are to do college-level work. Very few of the questions (except in the English Test) simply require you to show what you’ve memorized. For example, many of the math concepts are ones you learned before high school. There are even fewer high school science facts on the test. The Science Test is all about reading and interpreting charts and graphs and demonstrating that you understand the scientific process (experiments). Having basic knowledge is important for the test. However, learning how to “Use What You Know” is very important for improving your scores.


This section of the test is more about the knowledge you’ve gained than any other section. This is especially true of the Usage/Mechanics questions. You need to know basic punctuation and grammar rules. The Rhetorical Skills are much more logic-based since they have to do with writing strategy, organization and style. The questions are related to how you organize and present written information. In short, it’s the writing skills your English teachers have been teaching you that you’ll need to know how to use!


You are going to see a few questions on the ACT for which you simply do math calculations. This means you need to be sure you’ve memorized some basics that we’ll cover in the math sections. However, most of the questions have to do with applying basic knowledge from pre-algebra, algebra, geometry, and trigonometry.

Take a look at the following examples.

Which of the following two questions would more likely appear on the test:

1. If a right triangle has a hypotenuse of 5 units what are possible lengths of its sides?A. 1 and 2
B. 2 and 3
C. 3 and 4
D. 4 and 5
E. 5 and 6
2. In the figure ABCDE, the small angle at vertex C is a right angle. What is the perimeter of the figure?A. 26
B. 28
C. 30
D. 32
E. 36

Answer for which question would more likely appear on the test

Words of “Wiz-dom”—The world of math is a world of patterns. Applying what you know about math should help you understand patterns. For example, what is the pattern created by raising a negative fraction to higher and higher powers? What do all multiples of 9 have in common? What is the pattern you find as you raise “4” to higher and higher powers? If you double, triple, quadruple the side of a square, what happens to its area?

Words of “Wiz-dom” on patterns


Using what you know during the Reading Test is as much about writing as it is about reading! You know that well-written passages have certain characteristics. For example, the main idea is present throughout the passage. Each paragraph has a “topic sentence” at or near its beginning. Each paragraph is related to the main idea. No irrelevant ideas are introduced. You’ll use these and other principles of writing to read the passage quickly so that you can get to the questions and earn some points!

Science Reasoning:

There is some minor knowledge that you will find helpful on this section. It was mostly taught to you in the introductory materials of your science courses. The questions will focus on information provided in the passages and you’ll only need previous knowledge as background information.

REVELATIONS: Demystifying the ACT is available for the exclusive use of students who have registered through MaxTheTest.com or attend a school which is licensed to distribute it. Any distribution or use of these materials beyond these students or schools by any individual or organization and/or removal of this notice is a violation of federal copyright laws.