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

In the previous post, we divided the probability items found in the last two Preparing-for-the-ACT Guides into three categories. In this post, we work those items. If you have questions or comments, shoot me an email at kshipley@36university.com.

act prep math probability liquid marbles in a glass

These 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 question 31











#31 Solution:

Step 1) Recognize there are now 755 pieces.

Step 2) Of those 775 pieces, 5 are the new “extra” pieces.

Step 3) Use probability formula: P(extra piece) = 5/755


act prep math question 32

#32 Solution:

Step 1) Current probability of red marble: 12/32

Step 2) Recognize we need a fraction that will reduce to 3/5, so the denominator has to reduce to 5.

Step 3) Begin adding red marbles in increments so that the total number of red marbles is divisible by 3.

Current Probability of red: 12/32 –> 3/8

Add 3 red marbles. Updated probability of drawing red marble: 15/35 –> 3/7

Add 8 red marbles. Updated probability of drawing red marble: 20/40 –> 1/2

Add 13 red marbles. Updated probability of drawing red marble: 25/45 –> 5/9

Add 18 red marbles. Updated probability of drawing red marble: 30/50 –> 3/5.  (I should have known!)


Item Type 2: Probability from Graphs

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

act prep math pie graph question 43

#43 Solution:

Step 1) They provide formula for odds. Odds = in the age range:not in the age range.

Step 2) Percentage of persons in 25-35 years range: 42% or 42 out of 100.

Step 3) If 42 out of 100 are in the age range, the other 58 must not be in the age range.

Step 4) Set up the odds. 42:58 –> 21:29


act prep math probability bar chart item 1

#1 Solution:

Step 1: P(Type A or Type AB blood) = (# of Type A + # of Type AB)/ (Total # of possibilities)

Step 2: P(Type A or Type AB blood) = (67 + 6)/150 –> 73/150


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 question 21

#21 Solution:

Step 1: 80% pass written test. Of 1,000, we expect 800 to pass written test. (80% • 1000)

Step 2: Of those that pass written test, 60% pass driving test. 60% • 800 that passed written –> 480 expected to pass both

act prep math question 59

#59 Solution:

Step 1: Chances of guessing a particular item correctly is 1/3, since there are three answer choices.

Step 2: Chances of guessing all 4 items correctly? Multiply the probabilities: (1/3) • (1/3) • (1/3) • (1/3) –> 1/81


Wrapping It Up

We hope these solutions helped you work these items more efficiently! If you have an alternative, quicker method to solving any of these items, we’d love to see it.

Recent & Related Posts:

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

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

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


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