Science is one of the most challenging sections in the ACT, compared with the SAT, PSAT, and other tests. ACT Science is often a race against the clock with just 35 minutes to read 6-7 passages and answer 40 questions. Especially if you don’t have a strong background in science, how are you going to answer all 40 questions? You only need a little knowledge of science to take the ACT Science section. So, you won’t need to memorize a lot of information to do well in this section. The three types of questions are as follows:
Table 1. ACT Science
|Topics||Description||No. of Passages||No. of Questions|
|Data Representation||There should be one or two paragraphs about the studies and 1-4 visual data representations||2-3||5 or 6 per passage|
|Research Summary||Research summaries are similar to data representations, but they focus on one or two specific experiments||2-3||5 or 6 per passage|
|Conflicting Viewpoints||Different scientific theories or viewpoints presented in multiple short essays||1||7 per passage|
Table 1 summarizes the ACT Science Test. There are six or seven short passages with graphics and explanations. The passages can be divided into three main categories:
- Data Representation:
- In each passage, 2-4 graphics are presented from a study or experiment.
- Graphics and data reporting are heavily emphasized in questions.
- Anatomical diagrams, maps, or complex graphics may be included.
- You should skim the passage and move directly to the questions after reading it.
2. Research Summary
- Charts, graphs, diagrams of an experiment’s setup are included in 2-6 graphics per passage.
- You are asked to report and extrapolate data in questions.
- Asks about the purpose of experiment procedures or how properties are related.
- An effective strategy: Carefully check the setup and note each experiment.
3. Conflicting Viewpoints
- Graphics can be either one or zero.
- Provide two or three competing explanations for scientific phenomena.
- You will be asked to identify key differences and similarities between the theories and to apply these theories to hypothetical situations.
- An ideal strategy: Read each hypothesis carefully, but don’t assume any are correct.
To learn more about ACT, download ACT’s free e-book to learn more about the ACT. For a comprehensive diagnostic report, students can also grade ACT practice test bubble sheets online using Socrato’s test grading software.