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Three Types of Probability Items to Expect on the ACT Math Test

You walk into the testing site and sit down, nervous but confident. You know you’ve prepared and you’re ready to give the ACT one last shot. You are sure this will result in your best your score yet. The English test is no problem. You open the math test and begin working, but something has changed…

act prep math probability liquid marbles in a glass


Modifications to the ACT Math Test

Maybe you haven’t heard, but ACT announced test-takers could look forward to “the inclusion of additional statistics and probability items in the mathematics test” (Source: ACT FAQ). ACT hasn’t released volumes of materials on the changes, but the last two released exams contained in the Preparing-for-the-ACT Guides are consistent with the announced changes and provide the best clues we have on the amendments. We have divided the following items into three categories. The items are provided to give you examples of the ways you can expect ACT to test probability. These are screenshots from the ACT’s booklets, not the property of 36 University.

Item Type 1: Basic Probability Items

These items require you to apply the basic probability formula:

P(A) = (# of events corresponding to A/ total # of possible events)

act prep math probability item 31











act prep math probability item 32

Item Type 2: Probability from Graphs

These items require you to utilize your graph reading skills and basic probability concepts.

act prep math probability item 43 - pie graph

act prep math probability item 1 - bar chart

Item Type 3: Probability of Multiple Events

Multiple events probability items ask you take one additional step. Often, that means you’ll just need to multiply the probabilities of each event. Here are examples:

act prep math probability item 21

act prep math probability item 59

Wrapping It Up

The good news is these items aren’t that complicated and are likely to replace more difficult items. These changes may mean it’s time for you to brush up on basic probability, especially since ACT may begin testing these concepts in more challenging ways.

Do you want to see these items worked? Check out our follow-up post. For more practice, check out the online Sample Items published by ACT. Specifically, try Set 3 Item #2.


Recent & Related Posts:

Post Follow-up: Working the New ACT Math Probability Items

Origami: Sharpen Visual-Spatial Skills & Boost Your ACT Math Score

Your Week-Before-the-ACT Game Plan (Part 4 of 4: Science)

Your Week-Before-the-ACT Game Plan (Part 3 of 4: Reading)

Your Week-Before-the-ACT Game Plan (Part 2 of 4: Math)

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