Ace the ACT Science Section


Don’t get too excited, ACT science has little to do with your knowledge of biology, chemistry, natural science, or physics.  In fact, you don’t need any knowledge of science to ace this section.

ACT science should be renamed to “reading with charts and graphs.”  You are given seven passages full of diagrams, data, tables, examples, and figures and you are expected to answer questions based on your evaluation of the information.According to ACT, this section tests your interpretation, analysis, problem solving, and reasoning skills.  It does not test any science.

Honestly, this is the only section on any of the admissions tests that I have trouble finishing.  I’m a great test taker and I have to keep an eye on the clock to finish 40 science questions in 35 minutes.  I don’t want to rush and make careless errors, but there is so much information to process.  Again, accuracy will be key to your success.

The best way to make it through the ACT science section is to think of it as a giant search and find.  You remember these from when you were a kid.  When we go to a restaurant the children’s menu will have a big block of letters and my kids love looking up, down, across, and diagonally for the words.  When you used to do this, I bet you had a similar approach.  To fine the word “spaghetti” you didn’t read every letter on every line; you’d scan through looking for the letters you need, slowing down only when you saw some of the letters from “spaghetti”.  This strategy will help you ace the ACT science.

Do not start by reading and attempting to understand each science passage.  Begin with the questions.  If question one asks about study 2, scan until you find study 2 then look for the information needed to answer the question.

Most questions require interpretation of information and your ability to recognize patterns.  Do the readings increase as temperatures go up?  Is there a correlation between length and pressure?  Do the results in example 1 support or contradict the results in example 2?  Look for connections and patterns, but don’t try to understand all the details.  You don’t need them to answer questions correctly.

When you can limit your focus to read question, find relevant info in the chart, compare answer choices, pick the best match, you will increase your accuracy, answer more questions, and improve your score.  Often you do not need to fully understand the passage to search out the information being tested. Remember whatever you don’t finish get the “letter of the day!”

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