ACT Science Overview

•    40 questions
•    Multiple-choice
•    4 answer choices
•    Passages with charts/diagrams

•    Biology
•    Chemistry
•    Physics
•    Geology
•    Astronomy
•    Meteorology

Time: 35 minutes

The ACT science section does not test specific science facts. Instead, students will need to understand how to use certain skills of scientific reasoning. Nearly every question can be answered by referring to the material in the passage. Yet, somewhere between 1 and 5 questions on every ACT test, will concentrate on science-based knowledge not given in the passages. There will be a few questions that require some arithmetic. You may have to find an average or utilize your algebra knowledge. 


Question types and scoring
Students receive 1 raw point for every correct answer. There’s nothing lost for answering incorrectly. The raw score is calculated by tallying up the raw points. The overall raw score is then converted to a score on a 1-36 point scale. The ACT science score is 1 of 4 scores that's factored into the ACT composite. The ACT composite is an average of 4 section scores. Meaning, a lower science score will bring down the ACT composite, and a higher score, will help to increase the ACT composite. This, of course, relies on the scores from the other ACT sections: English, reading, and mathematics.  

Each ACT test contains:
•    6-8 Conflicting Viewpoints questions. These questions will present two or more scientific theories. Amongst all of the theories, not all of them can be correct. The questions may not ask you to prove which theory is correct, but instead, ask you to describe the viewpoints and how they relate to one another. 
•    12-16 Data Representation questions. These questions usually present charts and tables that display different variables. Students will find 2-4 variables and must be able to describe the relationships between the variables. 
•    18-22 Research Summary questions. These questions describe an experiment and the scientific findings. The passage will detail the results, makeup, and hypothesis. The questions will ask you about the experiment’s findings, design, and implementation. 

Every ACT test will include the same set of instructions for the science section. Master the instructions and you won’t need to read them when taking the test. This enables you to spend more time on the problems by skipping the instructions. 

ACT SCIENCE DIRECTIONS: There are seven passages in this test. Each passage is followed by several questions. After reading a passage, choose the best answer to each question and fill in the corresponding oval on your answer document. You may refer to the passages as often as necessary. You are NOT permitted to use a calculator on this test. 


Attractor answers
Watch out for attractor answer choices. The ACT anticipates the student making careless mistakes. The test will setup traps for students, and those most impacted, will be students who are not ready for them. The attractors mainly show up on medium to difficult questions. 

ACT science tips: 
•    Focus on one passage at a time
•    Learn which types of passages come easier for you
•    Tailor your strategies to each passage type
•    Don’t worry if the subject is unknown to you. Most of the information is in the passage. 
•    Work on timing and pacing by practicing passages
•    Know the directions, so that you can skip them
•    You have 52 ½ seconds per question
•    Adjust your pacing to the passage types
     o    Data Representation passages: spend 4 minutes
     o    Research Summary passages: spend 5 minutes
     o    Conflicting Viewpoints passages: spend 7 minutes