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Panicking about  that ACT exam that’s fast approaching? Crying in your room eating cookies and cream because you  just don’t know what to do with the science portion ? Well then you came to the right place! This article will give you some quick and simple tips on how to kick the science portion’s butt!

Now to be completely honest when I took my first ACT I went into it without any preparation and I felt pretty confident until I got to the science section. Going through the science section I felt like this. EXACTLY like this:


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So I know how you feel. Since I did not practice, I was not prepared to see the millions of graphs, charts and comparisons. Of course when I received my score I wasn’t surprised to see that science was my weakest area. Therefore, I hit the books. I practiced all the science tests I could and scoured all the online sites and found exactly what I was looking for; so here it is, and hopefully this information is as helpful for you as it was for me.

For those of you aren’t familiar with the science portion, here are the basics: the science portion has 40 questions with a 35-minute time limit. The subjects covered include: biology, chemistry, physics, and earth/space sciences (geology, meteorology, etc.). I know what you’re thinking; how am I going to know what to study and which topics are important? Well technically you don’t BUT you don’t need to study the actual content. The ACT science is more about testing your scientific reasoning skills than your ability to remember actual information. You can get a very high score on the exam without actually knowing in-depth information about the subjects.

Now for the formats: 38% of the test is data representation. This is typically the graphs and tables—the questions will ask you to interpret what you see. 45% of the exam is research summaries—this section is when multiple experiments are described, then you will be asked questions on the individual ones or it might ask you to tell the difference. Finally, 17% of the exam is conflicting viewpoints—it will give you several views or tests and then you will be asked questions that ask you to compare them.

Now here’s the strategy to do well:

Within the 40 questions there are seven different portions. Three off the passages have five questions and three of the passages have six questions. The last passage has seven questions. What you want to do is spend ONLY five minutes per passage. 7×5=35 minutes. You will finish all the sections in the time limit. For the passages with five questions, try to finish in about 4 minutes so that you will have extra time on the seven question passage. Anyways it may seem impossible to read all the information and answer all the questions in five minutes but most of the time, all you really need to do is look at the graphs to answer questions. Usually information that comes with graphs is useless. In the sections with conflicting viewpoints, you do need to read the information to answer the questions.

I wouldn’t recommend trying this method for the first time on an actual exam; take at least two practice tests and try it out. It may not work for you but the practice will help! The best way to spend five minutes per passage is to get comfortable with the different portions of the exam and understanding when you have to read the information and when you don’t have to.

The most important thing to remember is to NOT spend more than 5 minutes per passage. Getting held up on one passage just prevents you from moving on and it  wastes time! That’s what happened to me the first time I took the exam—I spent too much time worrying about one passage that I didn’t have time to answer the remaining three passages. If you just can’t get one passage skip it and go on to the next one. To give you guys some reassurance, after practicing with this method and spending five minutes per passage I was able to increase my score by seven whole points!

A few tips to remember before you take the test:

  1. Practice, practice , and more practice
  2. Get a good night’s rest before the test
  3. Remember to bring your calculator, ID, admission ticket and number 2 pencils

Good luck!

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