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June 15, 2017
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July 15, 2017

5 Helpful Tips for the ACT Science Section

Author: Rebecca Walsh

The best way to approach the science section of the ACT is as not as a test of your general science knowledge but as a test of your ability to distill and analyze information. While there may be 4-5 questions on each science section that require background knowledge of a scientific topic, 95% of the answers can be found within the passages. So don’t panic! By developing your ability to read graphs, charts, and tables you can greatly improve your score.

The science section includes three types of passages: charts or graphs, experiments, and conflicting hypotheses. I recommend that students skim the questions before reading the passages. Most of the questions concerning charts or graphs can be answered without reading the entire passage. For a student struggling with time, this can free up precious minutes. However, passages that present conflicting scientific theories must be read completely before answering any question.

Perfect practice, not just practice, makes perfect.

Be mindful while taking practice science sections. While the topics covered may differ, the same skills are being tested. Below are a few of my most common suggestions for students as they conquer the science section.

  1. ALWAYS circle units. Many questions concern units and initially taking a moment to notice the units being using will save you time.
  2. If the passage includes a graph, state the relationship between the independent and dependent variables in your own words. Does the dependent variable increase as the independent variable increases? Does it increase exponentially? Does the dependent variable decrease as the independent variable increases?
  3. After reading each paragraph in the passage write a few key terms in the margin. While it may feel like this slows you down, this will ultimately save you time. I challenge you to time yourself completely a science section with annotation and without. I guarantee you will be faster and more accurate with annotation.
  4. Don’t forget your thinking hat! Some answer choices you will be able to eliminate using common sense. Use what you know to improve your chances of correctly answering a question.
  5. Work on a few passages every day. Breaking up the material will make it more manageable.

Good luck! With hard work and daily practice, in no short time you will be able to achieve your dream score.

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