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ACT Science Reasoning Information

What's on the ACT Science Reasoning Section?


ACT Science Reasoning Information

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ACT Science Reasoning Introduction

Sounds scary, right? Reasoning and Science all in one ACT section? Before you run screaming for the nearest bridge, consider reading the following explanation about what you’re really going to encounter on the ACT Science Reasoning section.

ACT Science Reasoning Basics

If you’ve read ACT 101, you know the following info, but just in case you haven't, here are the basics about this section of the ACT:

  • 40 multiple-choice questions
  • 35 minutes on this section.
  • Can earn you between 1 and 36 points. The average is about a 20.

ACT Science Reasoning Content

Before you get all worried, don't sweat it! You don’t have to have some sort of advanced degree in any of the areas listed below. Not all of this content will be tested. The ACT test-makers will merely pull passages from the following areas. Plus, the test is about scientific reasoning, so even if you don’t remember a few content details, you’ll still probably be able to figure out the answers to many of the questions in these fields:

  • Biology: biology, botany, zoology, microbiology, ecology, genetics, and evolution
  • Chemistry: atomic theory, inorganic chemical reactions, chemical bonding, reaction rates, solutions, equilibriums, gas laws, electrochemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry, and properties and states of matter
  • Physics: mechanics, energy, thermodynamics, electromagnetism, fluids, solids, and light waves
  • Earth Sciences: geology, meteorology, oceanography, astronomy, and environmental sciences

ACT Science Reasoning Question Format

All the questions on the Science Reasoning Test will contain some sort of data given to you in graphs, charts, tables or paragraphs, along with an explanation of what to do with the data. The questions are broken down into 7 different passages:

  • 3 Data Representation passages with 5 questions each: Tests knowledge of graphs, scatterplots, and interpretation of info in tables, diagrams, and figures.
  • 3 Research Summaries passages with 6 questions each: Tests your ability to interpret results from given experiments.
  • 1 Conflicting Viewpoints passage with 7 questions: Gives you two or three different viewpoints on some sort of observable phenomenon and asks you to understand differences and similarities in the hypotheses.

ACT Scores and the Science Reasoning Section

Obviously, you want this score to be fantastic, so your overall ACT score will be, too. Here are some helpful hints to get your closer to that 36 and farther away from that 0.

  1. Read the questions before you read the charts in Data Representation. The Data Representation sections contain very little actual writing. So, before you slog through the charts, read the questions first. In many cases, you'll be able to answer the questions by just looking at one chart exclusively.
  2. Mark up the text. Physically underline, cross-out, and circle things that stand out to you as you read. Some of the text is going to be pretty heavy, so you’ll want to dissect it as you go to make the most sense of it.
  3. Paraphrase the questions. Before you read the answers, put those questions into words you would use if you can’t understand what they’re asking.
  4. Cover the answers. Keep your hand over the answers while you read the question. Then, make a wild stab at answering before you uncover your choices. You may just find a paraphrase of your own answer in one of the choices, and odds are, it’s the right choice.

There it is – the ACT Science Reasoning section in brief. Good luck!

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