The ACT science section routinely destroys students the first time they try it, and it has nothing to do with the questions. There are 40 questions in the section, and only one or two – at most – demand outside scientific knowledge. The rest are just reading comprehension questions. Students struggle on this section not because the questions are difficult, but because they have the wrong strategy. Once students learn the right way to approach the section, their score skyrockets.
The 40 questions on the science section are spread out over six or seven passages. Each passage describes an experiment and its results. It starts with a short paragraph about the experiment, followed by data in the form of tables, charts and/or graphs, and then five to seven questions. An example is in the picture to the right.
Here’s the key to getting through the section quickly: LOOK AT THE QUESTIONS BEFORE YOU LOOK AT THE DATA!
You can spend 15 minutes memorizing numbers from a table, only to find that none of the questions require those numbers. Most of the time, students forget what they looked at by the time they get to the second question. All you’re doing when you study the data independently is waste time.
Read the short paragraph at the beginning of the passage to get an idea of what’s going on, then go to question 1 and work backwards. Figure out what you need to know for each question so you’re not wasting time on information you don’t need. Get in; get out; score high.