ACT Science Format

How long is the ACT Science Reasoning Exam? What will I be tested on?

The Science section has 40 questions in 35 minutes. There are reading passages, often accompanied by displays of data in charts and/or graphs, followed by questions. The questions require you to recognize and understand the basic features and concepts of the provided information, examine critically the relationship between the information provided and the conclusions drawn or hypotheses developed, and generalize from given information and draw conclusions, gain new information, or make predictions.

What is the layout of the ACT Science Reasoning Exam?

The test has 40 questions and 35 minutes in which to answer them. Much like the Reading test, the Science Reasoning test has the passage to the left of the page and the associated question on the right side of the page. The passages often have charts, graphs and/or drawings in which associated data will be displayed. There will be four passages with ten questions associated with each. Each section is independent of the others and is clearly separated from the others.

What types of sciences will be on the test?

The topics that may be included on the Science Reasoning test are biology, chemistry, physics, and the earth/space sciences. You do not need to have a high level of knowledge in these areas, but general introductory information from your high school science courses will be sufficient.

So, what do I really need to know?

Much like the Reading test, which measures your ability to read and understand more than the specific topics of the readings, the Science Reasoning test is assessing your ability to think about data, experiments, and research questions scientifically. Your knowledge of the specific types of sciences on the test is much less important than having the skill of thinking logically about a scientific problem. The ability to effectively read and understand data presented in charts and graphs will also be very useful. Other skills that will be useful are basic math and reading abilities.

This test sounds scary!

Yes, many students fear this portion of the ACT test. However, as stated above, it is not difficult to succeed on this test. As long as you understand data presented both in essay form and in graphs or charts, you will not have trouble understanding what is asked of you. If you have an understanding of the Scientific Method used in experiments and you are able to think through a problem logically, you will have no problems!

So, no calculators allowed?

No, no calculators are permitted on this section of the test. There may be some basic math skills needed, but the lack of a calculator will not affect you in any way!