ACT Science Skills

Which exact skills will be tested on the ACT Science Reasoning exam?

Unlike the other portions of the test, the Science Reasoning test does not provide you with sub-section scores. However, there are still three major areas which are covered by this exam:

Data Representation (38%) These questions are based on material similar to that found in science journals and texts. Questions such as graph reading, interpretation of tables, diagrams and figures, and the understanding of scatterplots are addressed.

Conflicting Viewpoints (17%) These questions address different views or hypotheses which are inconsistent with one another. The focus is on the understanding and comparison of these differing views and drawing conclusions based on given data.

Research Summaries (45%) These questions are based on descriptions of one or more related experiments. The focus of these questions is on the design of the experiments and the understanding and interpretation of the results of the experiments.

So… my prior knowledge of each of these scientific topics is not that important?

That’s right! You should think of this test as being quite similar to the Reading test. There are many different topics, but what is really being tested is your ability to think critically and scientifically about each of the questions or problems presented to you. A great deal of this test is also based on understanding what you read, but you just have to think a different way about answering the questions.

As opposed to the Reading test, which tests your ability to understand what you have read and to make inferences and connections based on the text, the Science Reasoning test asks you to make those same connections and to use that same understanding, just from a scientific point of view. You also have to have the ability to read and apply information from charts and graphs.

Tackling the ACT Science Reasoning Test

As opposed to the Mathematics test, which becomes gradually harder the further you get into the test, the Science Reasoning test does have increasing difficulty, but within each set of questions associated with each passage. Knowing this, you may want to complete the first few questions of each section, and then return to the sections if you have time to complete the remaining questions.

Your ability to skim for important information within a reading will be important in this section of the ACT as well. Pay special attention to charts and graphs, as there will probably be several questions associated with those. Skimming the questions before reading the passage will also be very helpful in terms of being able to answer as many questions as possible in 35 minutes!