As you prepare for the ACT Science test, you may encounter content that slightly differs from that on the actual test. The differences are a result of the periodic reviews and updates done on the test to ensure that it represents current classroom instruction and continues to be a reliable predictor of college and career readiness.
The test is also regularly reviewed by members of the ACT staff and external consultants to make sure the content is a fair and accurate assessment for all examines without disadvantaging or unfairly influencing any group of examinees.
ACT Science Test Format
On the ACT Science test you will be asked to respond to a series of 40 multiple-choice questions within 35 minutes. These questions are broken into sets of scientific information that will measure your analysis, evaluation, interpretation, problem-solving and reasoning skills. The information may be presented in one of three different formats, including conflicting viewpoints, data representation or research summaries. You will be asked to choose the best response for each of the questions based on your ability to recognize and understand critical concepts.
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Since there may be multiple correct responses for each question, you will need to use critical thinking skills to determine the one best response. To allow yourself enough time to consider your choices more carefully on more complex questions, you should pace yourself throughout the duration of the test.
Responding to Questions
To record your responses you will need to fill in the corresponding oval on a bubble answer sheet that will be provided to you at the beginning of the test. If you are using time-saving strategies, such as skipping more difficult questions until the end of the test, you will need to take extra care to ensure you are not filling in any incorrect ovals. Always check to make sure you are filling in an oval on the same line number that matches with the question number you are on. If you accidentally fill in an incorrect oval, you can completely erase it. Be sure not to leave any smudges or it could result in an error when your test is scored.
What to Bring with You
To be admitted into the test location you will be asked to provide an approved form of photo identification. A calculator is not permitted on the ACT Science test, but you will need to bring the following items with you:
- Your paper ticket (for National and International ACT test dates)
- Multiple sharpened soft lead No. 2 pencils
- Watch without an alarm
Content on the ACT Science Test
There are a number of critical concepts presents on the ACT Science test that draw on discipline-specific content knowledge (biology, chemistry, Earth/space sciences and physics) and general science skills and practices. These concepts include:
- Basic features of the provided information
- Concepts related to the provided information
- Generalize from given information to gain new information
- Relationship between the information provided and the conclusion or hypothesis
ACT Science Test Reporting Categories
Evaluation of Models, Inferences and Experimental Results (25-35%)
- Judge the validity of scientific information
- Formulate conclusions and predictions
Interpretation of Data (45-55%)
- Interpolate and extrapolate
- Manipulate and analyze scientific data
- Reason mathematically
- Recognize trends in data
- Translate tabular data into graphs
Scientific Investigation (20-30%)
- Compare, extend and modify experiments
- Understand experimental tools, procedure and design
How the ACT Science Test Is Scored
There is no penalty for any incorrect responses on the ACT test, so you can take guesses on any difficult questions or if you run out of time as a way to improve your ACT Science score. Your score will be based on the number of correct responses, with your score report showing four different scores based on your performance: one total test score and three reporting category scores.
ACT Science Strategies
Most examinees will find that the 35-minute time limit for the test is enough time to thoroughly read the scientific information and respond to the questions when they pace themselves. When you pace yourself, you should aim to spend about 2 minutes reading each passage, leaving about 30 seconds to read and respond to each question.
You should also try to leave enough time to return to any unanswered questions and review your responses at the end of the test, if possible. Take care to carefully read the material you are provided before you begin reading the questions associated with it so you can note any critical ideas and consider the experimental design.
You may also notice that some material presents conflicting points of view. All of these details should be noted in your booklet to help you more quickly reference them as you respond to questions.
Improve Your ACT Science Score
To improve your ACT Science score you should begin your test prep well in advance of your designated test day. You should start by taking an ACT Science practice test to allow yourself to become familiar with the way the content is presented.
This is also a good opportunity for you to identify any strengths or weaknesses and know how to structure your study plan. Once you have completed one or multiple practice tests, you can use Mometrix’s ACT Science study guide to review critical concepts.
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by Enoch Morrison | Last Updated: January 8, 2019