| | | |

Exponent Rules Review Game with ACT Questions and Distractors

I created this exponent rules review game in February of 2020. It exposes students to actual ACT questions from past released exams, and it gives students a chance to play the role of exam writer by crafting tricky distractors for each question.

photo of pencil bubbling in multiple choice answer with text "exponent rules activity with distractors"

I originally crafted this review game for my Pre-Calculus students. I wanted to give them a bit of ACT review and review exponent rules before jumping into our unit on exponentials and logs. This was just before the word “pandemic” became a common word in our vocabulary.

exponent rules review game act questions distractors
Image Source: https://twitter.com/mathequalslove/status/1232856408355414017

When I shared a few photos of the activity on twitter, it turned out to be one of my most popular tweets EVER. Numerous people asked if I would share the files I had created for the activity with them. The perfectionist in me wanted to recreate the files before I shared them because I had thrown them together rather quickly. I didn’t get around to it right away, then the pandemic came, and I didn’t think about it at all. That day has finally come!

I went through my old ACT tests to find as many exponent rule problems as possible. Okay, that’s not entirely true. I have a binder where I keep old ACT questions that I have worked out and sorted by topic. So, I just had to go to my sheet protector labeled “Exponent Rules” and pull out the stack of questions.

binder with act questions cut apart and sorted into categories.

I took the 17 exponent rule questions from my binder and used the snipping tool to snip out the question stems to be pasted on my template. (This was where my perfectionism comes in. I didn’t want to share the version with the snipped images since the original scans weren’t all that great. I decided to retype all of the questions in Word.)

exponent rules review game act questions distractors

My template has three sections – question, correct answer, and distractors. I provide students with the question. They must provide me with the correct answer and the four distractors they would use if they were writing a question for the ACT.

I like that this activity helps to expose my students to the many different ways an exponent rules problem can be written on the ACT.

exponent rules review game act questions distractors
exponent rules review game act questions distractors
exponent rules review game act questions distractors

Some are wordier than others, but they are all exponent rule problems.

I gave the templates to students in dry erase pockets.


dry erase pockets

I cannot imagine teaching math without my dry erase pockets! They instantly make any activity more engaging and save me countless hours at the copy machine since I can use the same class sets of copies year after year.

Here are my current go-to recommendations:

If you don’t have a classroom set of dry erase pockets, you could also use heavy duty sheet protectors. But, I highly recommend investing in a classroom set of the pockets since they are so much more durable.

exponent rules review game act questions distractors

So, how did I turn this into a review game?

Groups came up to my desk and grabbed a problem to start with. They took it back to their groups and found the correct answer. This was the easy part. Remember – I am doing these exponent rule problems with students in Pre-Calculus.

Most of them have been working with exponent rules since 7th/8th grade. Still, many misconceptions linger, hence the reason I spent part of a class period doing this review activity!

After answering the question, students had to put on the “hat” of an ACT exam question writer. What four distractors (wrong answer choices) would you put on the test? I did this in hopes of getting students thinking about common mistakes that are made with exponents.

When groups had finished both solving the problem and writing their four distractors, they brought it up to my desk to be checked. I awarded their group/team 10 points for a correct answer and 5 bonus points for each distractor that matched one of the actual distracts on the ACT.

This added a bit of an element of luck to the game because students really had no way to know exactly what distractors the ACT exam writer used. If students had answered the question incorrectly, I sent them back to their group to rework the problem. If students were correct, they got a new question to tackle.

The group with the highest score at the end of the time limit wins.

I did this with exponent rules, but you could do it with so many other topics. I did it with ACT questions (the ACT is technically our state assessment for high school math), but you could do it with SAT questions or questions from your state’s own test. I think this adds a bit of a fun twist to otherwise boring test prep.

Similar Posts