The ACT Science Test tends to scare most students. When I was in high school, I said to myself, “I’m not a scientist. I’d better take the SAT.” What I failed to realize back then was the well-kept secret that the ACT Science Test requires little to no specialized knowledge of biology, chemistry, and physics. It’s basically a test that measures how well you can interpret charts, tables, and graphs. In this article, I’ll break down the 5 types of questions that you’re likely to see on the ACT Science Test.
1) Specific Detail Questions
These questions ask you to locate and consider the significance of a specific detail contained within a graph, chart, table, or passage. They’re incredibly easy and very straightforward, and they’re designed to test your ability to quickly locate information.
How to tackle these? Be certain that you’re searching in the correct location! If the question directs you to “Table 2,” make sure that’s where you’re looking. Pay attention to whether the table name is displayed above or below the table itself.
2) Pattern Recognition Questions
These questions are designed to test your ability to identify and interpret the significance of patterns! You’ll be asked to observe a trend or relationship among data. Are temperatures going up as you approach the equator? Are elk leaving the east coast at a constant rate? You might be asked to predict what will happen beyond the parameters of the given data. That’s no problem, if you’re able to spot the trend.
To solve these questions, look at what’s being measured and ask yourself how those factors correlate.
3) Drawing Inferences Questions
These questions require that you draw inferences based on the data presented. You may need to consider the experiment or study as a whole, and consult multiple charts and graphs. You might also be asked how the results of the experiment or study might change if a new factor were introduced.
To solve these questions, make sure you understand the conditions of the experiment and the relationship between data. Once you’ve got this information clear in your head, drawing inferences should be a breeze!
4) Assessing the Scientific Method Questions
These questions test your understand of the scientific method as it applies to specific experiments. They ask you to consider how the experiment is designed or conducted, what the implications of the hypothesis are, how data is measured and interpreted, what conclusions the scientists draw, and so on. They might, for example, ask you to identify the independent and dependent variables in an experiment.
To solve scientific method questions, read the introductory paragraph before each experiment. Consider the data presented and form an impression of how the hypothesis and testing procedure relate to the outcome. These questions are the least common, but they crop up a couple of times per test!
5) Compare and Contrast Questions
These questions appear on the “Conflicting Viewpoints” section toward the end of the test. In this section, you’re presented with two paragraphs that summarize the hypotheses and experiments of two scientists, each of whom draws a different conclusion. You’re asked to compare and contrast the two experiments—the hypotheses, the methods, the data, and the conclusions. If you’re able to read closely and understand what each scientist does and believes, this should be a piece of cake!
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