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ACT Science Preparation: Practice Questions & Tips

written by: Ashley Hansen•edited by: Laurie Patsalides•updated: 5/13/2010

If you have your first ACT exam coming up, you'll want to make sure you know how to study for each subject area. Science can be an easy test category if you know what to expect.

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    ACT Category Breakdown

    The ACT exam is periodically offered for students preparing to apply for colleges. Most students take the exam in their junior year, giving htem ample time to retake the test if they want to try for a higher score. The test is timed, and students should bring their own Number 2 pencils and a calculator to the exam.

    Four subjects are covered in the exam. A total of 215 multiple-choice questions are distributed across the subject areas:Scantron 

    1. Science (40)
    2. Mathematics (60)
    3. Reading (40)
    4. English (75)

    Therefore, the science portion of the exam makes up for slightly less than 20% of your grade. It's undoubtedly an important section, but preparing for this portion of the exam is relatively easy. The best way to get ready for the science questions on the ACT is to know what to expect before you take the exam and to try some practice questions.

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    What to Expect

    ACT science preparation isn't too hard - every question in this section is related to a passage, table or data that is provided on the exam, so you should be able to get all the answers by studying the information carefully. However, it's still a good idea to know what kinds of questions are asked and how you can easily find the answers when the time comes. This is escpecially helpful since you have only 35 minutes to not only read all the passages provided but also to answer the questions on this portion of the ACT test.

    When it comes to tips for the science section, there are several strategies that will help you navigate this portion of the test. Below are several tricks to help you get through the science portion of the ACT.

    Reading the Passages

    Most passages will describe a scientific idea or an experiment. Read each passage through completely before you tackle the associated questions. While you don't want to take up too much of your time on reading, it is important to go through the information at least once. When reading through each passage, don't worry if you don't understand some of the scientific terms presented. Even if you don't know exactly what the word means, you should be able to figure out the answer to each questions based on the passage above - there is little, if any, interpretation required. As you read, take notes or underline certain words or information that seems important.

    Answering the Questions

    Many questions will provide you with a table of data. While you can't use your calculator for this portion of the exam, it's unnecessary anyway so don't stress. The information is provided for you and difficult calculations will not be required. The most important thing to watch out for in the science questions is answers that are similar or trick answers. Even if you think you know the answer right away when you read a question, always go back to the passage to verify your answer. This is especially true when there are two similar answer options provided. You should not need to use any outside knowledge to answer these questions - the answer will always be included somewhere in the passage.

    Question Difficulty

    As you answer each question, remember that for this section of the test, most sections have questions that increase in difficulty from the first to the last question. After each passage, there are typically one or two questions that you will be able to answer fairly quickly. By the time you get to the last question for the passage, you may need to spend a little more time verifying your answer from the information in the passage. In other words, it's ok if you do spend more time answering some questions and less time on others.

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    Stay Calm

    The most important thing you can do is stay calm when going to take your ACT test. If you take the time for a little ACT science preparation, you should be fine when it's finally test time. If you want to be even more prepared, try out some sample questions or take a class that will get you ready for the test. For more information on preparing for the ACT, see the articles listed below.