Going into the ACT test as a high school sophomore or junior, it is very important to have had Algebra and Geometry as well as just good overall number sense. However often overlooked, is the importance of being able to properly use a TI-84 Plus Graphing Calculator. Knowing how to operate this calculator alone will not give you a high score on the ACT math section, but it can save you lots of time which is absolutely vital on this 60 question, 60 minute test.
There are at the very least 2 questions on the math section that require reducing fractions into their simplest form after performing some algebraic operation. Rather than do all this math in your head or on paper, letting the calculator do the work for you is the most efficient way most students can do this problem.
After performing the operations of the problem in your calculator, your screen will most likely be displaying a decimal answer. In most cases, the ACT multiple choices will be in fraction form so this answer will not do. Immediately after obtaining this answer, you need to next hit the MATH key which will bring up an entirely new screen. Hit 1: FRAC and then hit ENTER once more and your calculator should automatically convert the decimal to the simplest fraction form.
It is also worth noting that if you just have a fraction with an extremely large numerator or denominator, the TI-83 or TI-84 will reduce this for you. Put the original fraction in your calculator as a division problem, and repeat the steps mentioned above. This little trick helps you on just two questions, but sometimes two correct answers can be the difference between thousands of dollars in awarded scholarship money. Not to mention the TI-84 can perform so many other operations in addition to the simplifying fractions tip that has been mentioned in this article. So while these devices are rather pricey, in the long run they are an excellent investment if you plan on heading to college one day. Spend a few dollars today and save big bucks one day in the future with any Texas Instruments graphing calculators.