The science section of the ACT exam can look overwhelming to handle, especially since the knowledge base required can, at face value, seems to be a bit random. But do not worry if you are unaware of lava production rates in the Precambrian time and the characteristics of monarch butterfly migration patterns.
Why? The exam will tell you. A key to the ACT science portion is to learn how to interpret and understand graphs, charts, and tables, and to learn how to do so rapidly. Once you master the art of swift information synthesis, you will be well prepared for the exam.
How does one become such a expert? Practice. First, you must find the material you will encounter.
The ACT science section consists of 7 passages with a total of 40 questions. These consist of a grouping of figures, charts, tables and graphs to sift through, with a “talking heads” subpart. The following techniques will help you in reviewing the skills you will need to employ on the ACT science portion.
- Understand formatting: There are various easy formatting rules to remember for the ACT Science section and for all scientific information that will deeply aid you in your understanding of the data presented.
This portion uses figures, charts, tables and graphs to convey data, and then poses a series of problems about a set of information. Tables and charts are labeled above the corresponding data set, while labeled and figures below.
This is very vital, as certain questions will refer to particular charts and figures. If you cannot decide which item to reference, or finish up referencing the incorrect one, you will answer wrongly.
In addition, tables and charts will not always be formatted in the same manner throughout the test. Note the scaling and labeling on graphs, trends in the units and data. Learning to identify these details quickly will help you greatly in solving problems more effectively.
- Determine key information: Frequently, more information will be presented than what you really need in order to solve the problems before you. Learning to sort unnecessary columns in graphs and figures, with common facts, will simplify the exam and increase your likelihood of scoring well. The key is to focus on the vital information.
Do so by reading the problem carefully. If the question references light intensity values, you now identify that you must reference the chart containing light intensity, not light wavelength. Mark out key phrases in the problem so you can move directly to that data when you are ready to scour the charts and graphs for solution.
Exercise this strategy at first without timing yourself and then aim to gradually locate the key phrases and corresponding information faster.
- Address the talking heads: What, exactly, does this mean? On the ACT science part, analyzing the “talking heads” means that Student 1 and Student 2, or Scientist 1 and Scientist 2, will present differing theories on a scientific subject.
You must, through a series of problems and their associated passages, interpret their statements; with extrapolate what their views might be on the topic. This may seem daunting, but again, concentrate on one step at a time.
Skim both viewpoints and mentally note differences and similarities and before solving any problems. Certain problems will be drawn from the text at hand, so be clear in your mind to refer to it. Others will prompt you to assume what might also be true. So, recognize evidence in the passages to support a logical conclusion.
Succeeding on the science part of the ACT involves practice, so allow yourself time to reach your aim. Be dedicate and patient yourself to improvement over several weeks by applying these strategies, then discover how well you can do come exam time. You can also get help for the Act science section form various online sites like Expertsmind. They provide exam papers and practice sets to improve your grades.