The ACT Science Test is an examination designed to determine what has a student learned throughout their years in high school. Also, with the data the ACT results provide, any college can evaluate the level of knowledge each student applying to their school has.
Like the ACT, there's also the SAT, and both are tests with the same purpose. If you're a student trying to figure out which of these two tests you should take, you should know that the ACT has an extra section that the SAT doesn't have; a science section.
If you wish to pursue a career in science, you'd be better off taking the ACT, rather than the SAT, but for more information make sure you read about the differences and similarities these tests have on our article ACT vs. SAT.
The ACT tests students on four different areas of study, Science, Math, English, Reading, and it has an optional writing section where you will be asked to write an essay about a given topic.
Students are given 2 hours 55 minutes to try and answer all 215 questions about the subjects mentioned above. If you choose to write the essay, you will be given 40 additional minutes to complete the writing section, which is optional.
This test will be a conclusion to your high school education, all those experiments in the lab, graphs in math class, and countless hours in the library, will all pay off once you
The Science section of the test has 40 questions and you'll have to answer about, scientific investigation (20-30%), interpretation of data (45-55%), and evaluate models, inferences, & experiment results (25-35%).
Here, you'll be expected to show knowledge of the natural sciences but also there's a level of interpretation, analysis, reasoning, and problem-solving skills required to succeed.
Each question will be about either biology, chemistry, Earth/space sciences (e.g., geology, astronomy, and meteorology), and physics.
According to the ACT organization, "the science section focuses on multidimensional assessment, with questions that assess science content in concert with science skills and practices."
Learn more about the ACT in our article Where can you find ACT Practice Material.
The Science section accounts for four scores, one for the section overall and three based on scientific knowledge, skills, and practices.
Interpretation of Data (40–50%)
In this category, you'll be graded on your ability to manipulate and analyze scientific data presented in scientific tables, graphs, and diagrams. You'll have to recognize trends in data, translate tabular data into graphs, interpolate and extrapolate, and reason mathematically.
Scientific Investigation (20–30%)
For this category, you'll have to understand experimental tools, procedures, and design. This means you are going to be asked to identify controls and variables. You're also going to be asked to compare, extend, and modify experiments, which means that you'll have to predict the results of additional trials.
Evaluation of Models, Inferences, and Experimental Results (25–35%)
Finally, in this category, the questions will ask you to judge the validity of scientific information and formulate conclusions and predictions based on that information. This means that you'll have to determine which explanation for a scientific phenomenon is supported by new findings.
The Math section of the exam has 60 questions and it is divided into two. The first is preparing for higher math (57-60%), in it, you'll find questions about number & quantity (7–10%), algebra (12–15%), functions (12–15%), geometry (12–15%), statistics & probability (8–12%).
The second topic is integrating essential skills (40-43%) which is designed to measure how well you can synthesize and apply your skills to solve more complex problems.
Finally, you'll be tested on modeling, which means that there are many questions that will ask for you to produce, interpret, understand, and evaluate. This category is an overall measure of how well you use modeling skills across mathematical topics.
The math test is designed to evaluate the skills you've acquired in every math course you've taken up to the beginning of 12th grade. You are allowed a calculator during the Math section, but make sure you get the right one because there are some prohibited models and features.
The Reading section of the ACT Test has 40 questions, key ideas & details (55-60%), craft & structure (25-30%), and integration of knowledge & ideas (13-18%).
This section has multiple parts and each question is designed to test your reading comprehension skills. Some parts have one long prose passage and others consist of shorter prose passages. Keep in mind that these passages represent the kinds of text commonly encountered on a first-year college course.
Here are some tips you can find useful while you are completing the test:
- Read each passage carefully
- Refer to the passages when answering the questions
The English part of the test has 75 questions and it has three subsections within the subject. There is: production of writing (29-32%), knowledge of language (13-19%), and conventions of standard English (51-56%).
This part of the exam consists of many text extracts, each passage or essay is followed by a set of multiple-choice questions.
In this section, you'll be put in the position of a writer who has to revise and edit a passage or text. Four scores are reported for the English section: a score for the section overall and three reporting category scores based on specific knowledge and skills.
Some tips to keep in mind for this portion of the exam are to note the differences in each possible answer and you should first read the passage and then read it again with your chosen answer.
Optional - essay
If you chose to register for the full ACT, including the writing section, you will be given extra time in the end after you've finished all four multiple-choice sections. Your score in the writing section will not affect your scores on the previous sections or your composite score.
In the writing section, you will find one prompt that describes a complex issue and provides three different perspectives on the issue. You will be asked to read the prompt and write an essay where you develop your own perspective on the issue.
According to the ACT organization, "Five scores are reported for the writing section: a single subject-level writing score reported on a scale of 2–12, and four domain scores that are based on an analytic scoring rubric."
If you want to continue learning about the ACT go check out our article Preparing for the ACT Science Test.
Keep in mind that preparing for this test will take a lot of time and practice but it is a great way to understand what you'll be facing during your years in college. Keep in mind that college admissions offices are looking for the best students, which means this test can be a little competitive, but you have to make sure you put all your effort into getting a good and high score.
Any question you might have can be cleared with a simple search online, but remember that the best advice, guidance, and tips will be given by experts on the matter.
Try to consider private tutoring as an option if you're feeling too much pressure or stress. A tutor can help and give you study strategies, different and more complete viewpoints on the test, and overall the best support system.
If you're taking a practice test and get too many questions wrong, a tutor can help you understand why you were wrong and learn how to identify the correct answer.
If you can't afford private tutoring, there are many free resources you can find on the ACT official website, and you can also try and find the ACT prep book in your school library.