Strategies for ACT Science

The ACT Science section, more than any other, is about strategy over knowledge. In order to get your best score, you need to use a strategy to attack this section of the ACT.

Strategy #1: Save Conflicting Viewpoints for last, Start with Data Representation and Research Summaries Passages

It is important that you can separate the Conflicting Viewpoints Passage from the other two types because the strategy for this passage is very different. It should be pretty simple to identify because the Conflicting Viewpoints Passage has no graphs or tables. Instead, there are two or more scientists/students/theories presented in short paragraphs. The questions ask you about each viewpoint and the differences and similarities between the viewpoints. To answer the questions, you need to read and understand the entire passage; therefore, this passage will take the longest.

Strategy #2: Write yourself brief mini-summaries as you read each viewpoint.

Writing summaries will help you remember what each scientist/student/theory argued and will help you when answering the question. These summaries should be no more than 3-4 words; more than that and you are taking too much time.

Strategy #3: Don't Read the Passage on Data Representation and Research Summaries Passages

It is a waste of your time to read these passages in their entirety. To answer most of the questions, you just need to read the visuals

Strategy #4: Start With the Questions

Skip reading and go right to the questions. Then, look back at the corresponding visual(s) to try to answer the question.

Strategy #5: Use Every Part of the Visuals to Your Advantage

The visuals contain the majority of the answers to the questions, so you need to become an expert at reading visuals and pulling tons of information out of a single visual.

Strategy #6: Skim Only If Absolutely Necessary

Usually, you don’t need to read, as I just showed you in the addressing the last question. You will probably only need to read/skim for 2 out of 5 or 6 questions per passage. Save the question(s) that you can’t answer with visuals alone for the end of the passage.

Strategy #7: Practicing Is the Key to Success

Strategy #8: Use Real ACT Science Practice Materials

Strategy #9: Use the Real Timing When Practicing

One of the biggest challenges of the ACT Science section is time management. Practice completing the entire section in 35 minutes, and try to limit yourself to 5 minutes per passage, so you keep yourself on track. Use this timing on every practice test, so that the fast pace becomes second nature to you.

Strategy #10: Review Your Mistakes, So You Improve

The only way to get better is with practice and reviewing your mistakes. Not reviewing your mistakes is like a professional football team losing a game 60-0 and just moving on to the next one without a post-game review. It would never happen, and it should never happen for you. Reviewing your mistakes allows you to process where you went wrong and make sure it doesn't happen again.

Strategy #11: Study the Material the ACT Science Section Expects You to Know

On every ACT Science section, there are about 4 questions that you cannot answer correctly without outside knowledge. There are 13 topics that the ACT Science section expects you to know. Make flashcards for these topics and study them until you know them cold.

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