ACT Science Tips

Are you concerned about ACT Science? Even if you are not strong in the scientific areas assessed – biology, chemistry, Earth/space sciences, and physics – you can still perform well on this section. You may also want to consider enlisting the help of an ACT science tutor as well as taking a few ACT practice tests to help you prepare. The ACT primarily measures your ability to reason scientifically, not your recall of concepts. Here are several tips for the Science section:

1.    Write on the exam

The majority of questions involve reading lengthy passages or viewpoints, and the involved information can be dense. Underline or circle key terms that are frequently utilized, and mark key points. Writing on the test has two purposes: it keeps your mind active while you read the passages, and it highlights important parts that you can reference when you address the questions. Here are some great tips on how to prep for the ACT science section.

2.    Eliminate

With more difficult questions, it is often simpler to identify the wrong answers than to choose the correct ones. Eliminate responses you know are incorrect, and probability will be in your favor – even if you must guess between the remaining choices. If an answer seems correct, mark it but read the other options – you may locate an even better response.

3.    Summarize

This strategy is very useful with Conflicting Viewpoints questions: separate views about the same subject are provided, and seven questions test your ability to evaluate the argument and differentiate opinions. After reading, summarize – as quickly and accurately as possible – the main argument of each viewpoint. Note where the authors disagree, but also where they agree. When answering questions, refer to your summaries first, and then consult the original passages if the answer isn’t apparent. 

4.    Translate the question

The ACT measures your ability to interpret complex or confusing questions. A wrong answer will frequently appear appealing because of a difficult question. Do not permit a strange question to phase you. Instead, translate the question into your own words, and use it to determine the correct choice.

5.    Ignore the answers, briefly

Not only are questions complex, but the answers on the ACT are intentionally constructed to mislead you. It can be beneficial to initially cover up the multiple-choice answers and attempt to respond to the question in your own words – then, with the answer choices revealed, choose the one that most closely matches your own response. This method works best with general questions on the Research Summaries and Conflicting Viewpoint sections – problems that ask about the “general purpose” or “main idea” of a passage.

6.    Skim charts and graphs

Part of the ACT Science section, Data Representation, assesses your ability to read and interpret scientific charts and graphs. Spend several seconds examining the chart, noting the important parts – the title, subtitle, and units – then move on to the questions. You likely will not have to answer questions about every part of the chart or graph, and you will certainly have to refer back to them regardless. Do not waste precious time at the beginning analyzing them. You may want to take a look at these tips on how to improve your ACT score as well.