4 ACT Science Tricks That Will Boost Your Score

ACT Science Reasoning Help

No one said it was going to be easy. The ACT Science Reasoning section is a test filled with all sorts of questions ranging from challenging to really challenging, and it makes sense to get a few ACT Science tricks up your sleeve whether you're taking the test the first time around or taking a stab at a second (or third!) attempt. Here are a few of those ACT Science tips to make sure you're getting the best possible score.

ACT Science Trick #1: Read the Data Representation Passages First

Data Representation on the ACT Science section

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The Rationale: On the ACT Science Reasoning test, you'll see three different types of passages: Data Representation, Conflicting Viewpoints, and Research Summaries. Data Representation passages are the easiest because they incorporate the least amount of reading. They basically ask you to interpret coordinating tables, draw inferences from graphics, and analyze other diagrams and figures. In some cases, you can go straight to the first DR question and answer it correctly without reading any explanatory material whatsoever. You may just have to refer to one chart! So it makes sense to get as many points as is possible right out of the gate by answering those questions first before slogging through the lengthy Conflicting Viewpoints or Research Summaries passages.

A Helpful Reminder: You'll know it's a Data Representation passage if you see several large graphics like charts, tables, diagrams, and graphs. If you see a lot of reading in paragraph format, you're not reading a DR passage!

ACT Science Trick #2: Use Shorthand Notes In the Conflicting Viewpoints Passage

Taking notes
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The Rationale: One of the passages you'll see on the ACT Science Reasoning test will involve two or three differing takes on one theory in physics, earth sciences, biology, or chemistry. Your job will be to interpret each theory to locate its key components and find the similarities and differences between the two. This is tough to do, especially when the theories could be about radioactivity or thermodynamics. The terminology starts getting confusing. So, use an ACT Science trick! Right when you start reading, make notes in plain language on the side of the paragraph. Summarize each theorist's basic premise. Make a list of the key components of each. List complex processes in order with arrows showing causality. You won't get bogged down in the language if you summarize as you go.

A Helpful Reminder: Since the Conflicting Viewpoints passage contains seven questions versus the Research Summaries' six, complete this passage right after the Data Representation passages. You'll get a higher possibility of points (7 vs. 6) with this set of data.

ACT Science Trick #3: Cross Off Information You Don't Need

X out in ACT Science

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The Rationale: The ACT Test writers sometimes include information that is unnecessary for solving any of the questions. For instance, on many Research Summaries passages, where there are two or three experiments to consider, some of the data inside accompanying tables, charts or graphs will not be used at all. You could have five questions about coffee bean #1, and none about coffee bean #2. If you're getting all the coffee bean data confused, feel free to cross off the unused portions!

A Helpful Reminder: It may be helpful to write a sentence describing the basic gist of each experiment, especially if it's complicated. That way, you won't have to reread the passage to figure out exactly what happened each time.

ACT Science Trick #4: Pay Attention To the Numbers

Numbers on ACT Science

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The Rationale: Even though this isn't the ACT Mathematics test, you'll still be expected to work with numbers on the Science Reasoning exam, which is why this ACT Science trick is key. Often, experiments or research will be explained numerically in a table or graph, and those numbers could be explained in millimeters in one table and meters in another. If you accidentally count the millimeters as meters, you could be in big trouble. Pay attention to those abbreviations.

A Helpful Reminder: Look for big numerical changes or differences in tables or charts. If Weeks 1, 2, and 3 had similar numbers, but Week 4's numbers spiked, you'd better believe there will be a question asking for an explanation of the change.

ACT Science Tricks Summary

ACT Science Reasoning - Do you need to be Einstein?

Getty Images / Glenn Beanland

Getting the ACT Science score you want isn't as difficult as it seems. You don't have to be a science genius who dabbles in meteorology for kicks in order to score in the high 20s or even 30s on this exam. You'll just need to pay attention to the details, watch your time so you don't get behind, and practice, practice, practice before your test. Good luck!

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Roell, Kelly. "4 ACT Science Tricks That Will Boost Your Score." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, thoughtco.com/act-science-tricks-that-will-boost-your-score-3211602. Roell, Kelly. (2020, August 27). 4 ACT Science Tricks That Will Boost Your Score. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/act-science-tricks-that-will-boost-your-score-3211602 Roell, Kelly. "4 ACT Science Tricks That Will Boost Your Score." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/act-science-tricks-that-will-boost-your-score-3211602 (accessed March 21, 2023).