ACT and SAT Math Tips: How to Conquer Complex Fractions

SAT Prep | ACT Prep | SAT Math | ACT Math

 You’ve probably beenFractions leaning on your calculator for so long that you’ve forgotten what a complex fraction even is.

The ACT and SAT like to reach way back into your math history to gather concepts you learned in elementary school (remainders, anyone?). The more years that have passed since you mastered an operation, the more likely that operation will appear (and cause panic) on the ACT or SAT. One of the most anxiety-inducing concepts for high school students is complex fractions, those fractions that have a separate fraction in the numerator and/or denominator:

describe the image

The test makers know that most of you are going to reach for your calculator as soon as you see a complex fraction, so  they make sure to use at least one variable; that way, you CAN’T use a calculator to simplify the expression or solve the equation:

Fractions 2

If complex fractions weren’t intimidating enough, the variables make them downright terrifying for some students.

But there is a simple way to beat these beasts: turn them into simple division questions. Instead of using a fraction bar, use a division sign:

Fractions 3

Voila! Menacing monsters tamed into sweet furry kittens. Well, maybe not sweet, but you get the idea. These once-scary fractions should now induce relief rather than panic, because you’re sure to rack up easy points that other test takers will miss.

Need more help? Consider an ACT course or tutoring or check out our ACT Free Help Area or SAT Free Help Area.

Photo: "Fractions display," courtesy of Misskprimary