How to Make Predictions on the ACT Science Section

The ACT Science section can be a difficult part of the ACT for many students – especially those who aren’t familiar with the kind of data interpretation and critical analysis required for success on the test. With the limited time allotted, using predictions can help you avoid using more time than necessary on any one question. If you’re wondering how to make predictions on the ACT Science section, check out these testing techniques:

1. Identify the type of question

Identifying the type of question being presented to you can be a powerful tool in predicting the right answer to a question. Is the question asking about the hypothesis of an experiment described in the passage? If so, you now know not to select an answer that deals with the results of that experiment. Identifying the kind of question being asked can help you focus on what you expect the answer to be and can help you eliminate incorrect answers.

You can practice doing this by taking online ACT Science practice tests or discussing question identification tips with your ACT Science tutor. Either provides you with practical experience differentiating among question types and possible answers.

2. Determine the quality of answer you’re expecting

Some questions on the ACT Science test will expect you to, say, qualitatively assess the results of a chemistry experiment and the data obtained from those results. When you read the question stem and the corresponding data, ask yourself what qualities you expect the answer to have. Do you expect to see a positive correlation? A negative one? Do you expect the answer to be a big number or a small one? Developing informed predictions using the data given and the information in the prompt can help you anticipate what the right answer will be.  

3. Use your rounding and estimating skills

Sometimes questions expect you to manipulate data with numbers that are hard to get a “sense” of without employing long-handed mathematical operations. You can shortcut such complicated operations by using your rounding and estimation skills to understand in which logical direction the answer is expected to go. Rounding decimals in tables and experimental procedures in the ACT Science test can help you more quickly identify correlations and other trends of significance within the passage. 

4. Eliminate ACT Science answers before you see them

Knowing what your answer won’t be about can be just as useful as predicting the correct answer. Some question stems can be difficult to decode, and you might find yourself unable to identify exactly what kind of answer you might expect. In these situations, you can help yourself choose the right answer by mentally eliminating answers that pertain to topics that you know the question stem is definitely not asking about. For example, say you are presented a question about an experiment but can’t tell which part of the experiment the question concerns. Eliminate answers ahead of time by predicting what the question isn’t about – the hypothesis or results, perhaps. By telling yourself that the answer won’t concern the hypothesis or results, you might then be able to find answers that concern another part of the experiment, like the experimental design. Use your prediction skills to gather as much information as you can to make a prediction about the problem before you approach the answer options.