How To Prep For The ACT Science Section

ACT Science: 40 questions, 35 minutes

A lot of students worry about the science section of the test because they don’t feel very comfortable with science classes.

Good news!  You do not have to memorize any formulas from biology, chemistry, physics, or any other science class.  Almost every last piece of information you need to know for this section can be found in the graphs and charts provided for each passage. Consider familiarizing yourself with this format ahead of time with ACT practice tests.

There are three types of passages in the science section:

 Charts and Graphs

These passages will have very little writing and feature large or multiple charts and/or graphs.  For these sections, try to use that visual information as much as possible.  Sometimes there will be a question that asks for information not the chart but can be predicted.  Let’s say the question asks what a certain temperature will be after 12 minutes but the chart only provides 10 and 15 minutes.  Based on the information, estimate a temperature in between the two given.  Most answer choices will not be so close that you have to refine this estimate.


These passages have more writing, which explains how the experiments are set up.  You will see headers that label the different experiments or studies.  Always make sure to know the similarities and differences between the experiments.  What the independent and dependent variables?  Is there a constant?  Knowing information as simple as that can help answer questions.  Reading the information is more important in the experiment sections, but reading the charts and graphs in these passages is still important. 

Try to pinpoint what the question asks about.  Experiment 2, so put your finger on experiment 2 and then move down to the sugar content of the water.  Figuring out the information by stages will keep you from getting confused in questions that have three or four qualifiers.

The “reading” passage

The Science section will feature one passage that looks like a reading passage, covering two scientists arguing about a theory, or perhaps just two different theories about how something works.  Sometimes, one of these theories will be obviously wrong, but don’t get hung up on that, just find the information and answer.  Look for which theory or scientist the questions are targeting and then key words within that passage.  This is usually the hardest passage for students, so save it for last if you feel uncomfortable.