# ACT Math: Problems Involving Averages

Many of the problems on the ACT Math test — 40% of the problems, in fact — are categorized as Pre-Algebra and Elementary Algebra. These problems test things like averages, ratios, proportions and the like. Often times, students think that because these topics are so basic, they don’t need to review them. But the makers of the ACT find clever ways of testing these seemingly “easy” topics.

Consider the following problem involving averages:
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# ACT Math: Working with Averages

Averages are one of the concepts that the ACT includes in the “Pre-Algebra & Elementary Algebra” category. So what could be hard about that? We all know how to compute an average, right? Just add up all the numbers and divide by however many there are.

But the thing is the ACT finds clever ways to test the “easy” concepts. If you look at the answer key for any of the ACT practice tests, you’ll see Pre-Algebra & Elementary Algebra questions at the end of the test among the harder questions.

So let’s take a look at averages and how they work. The first thing that’s important to understand is that average problems are very often about the total. If, for instance, you are given a problem in which the average age of five people has to be 30, what do you know about the total of their ages? That total has to be 5 x 30 = 150.