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ACT Science Quick Reference

Students are often intimated by the ACT Science section. The very word “science” conjures up images of tedious lab classes and densely-worded textbooks packed with advanced terminology. Yet, the ACT’s concept of science is relatively straightforward and follows the same set of “rules” as every other multiple choice section of the exam. This week we’re presenting a handy quick reference guide of our most essential ACT Science strategies. Print out this guide and keep it by your side as you practice the Science section.


Ways ACT Science differs from “real” science

  • Related concepts are interchangeable (e.g. weight = mass).
  • You don’t have to completely understand the “data” (passages) to answer questions correctly.
  • There isn’t that much actual science. Most questions involve data analysis/interpretation.


Types of questions

  • Single sources
    • Data: Read the correct data presentation carefully and accurately.
    • Text: Treat these the same way you would Reading section questions.
  • Multiple sources
    • Data and text: Combine the information in a data presentation with the information in the text.
    • Data and data: Combine different pieces of information from two different data presentations.


Understanding passages and answering questions

  • Everything you need is (usually) right in front of you.
    • Most questions can be answered by what is in the text, data, and question itself.
    • Scientific knowledge questions appear a maximum of 1 time per passage.
  • Match labels on data presentations with key words in questions and answers.
  • Examine ONLY the data source(s) a question is asking about.
  • Watch out for wrong answers that pull from the wrong sources.
  • Advanced-sounding scientific terms needed to answer questions correctly MUST be defined elsewhere in the passage.
  • Don’t bother preparing for questions that require outside scientific knowledge.
    • There are only a few scientific knowledge questions per exam.
    • The concepts they pull from are seemingly-random.
  • You can miss ALL outside scientific knowledge questions and still earn a 32-33.

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