The Truth About The Science Section of the ACT

Katya , 03-22-2018

Not everyone loves the ACT science section

Most students have nightmares about taking the section. However, we can address that fear. It's time to make the ACT science section easier.

So, let's establish some commonalities:

  1. On the first attempt, (almost) everyone sucks on the ACT science section.
  2. When starting out, all students think it's hard to prepare for.
  3. With the right preparation, it can be the easiest section to complete.
  4. It might be the section that gives you the best chance to add more points.

Though the ACT science section might look hard now, with a little practice, it might become one of your biggest allies.

Think about the time when you tried a new game that you found difficult. At first, the game appeared to be hard to grasp. It might have been because the rules were unfamiliar to you or because you felt overwhelmed by the task at hand. The game's intrinsic difficulty may have caused you to become disinterested and return to doing something else. However, once you figured out how to play the new game, you were able to start enjoying and mastering the game. Eventually, you were able to beat your opponents and complete the game.

And that's how you need to approach the ACT science section. Even if it is difficult, you need to master the exam. Even if you lose interest, you need to get back into the exam and keep pushing forward.

Thankfully, the ACT science section has its weaknesses. It's weak to students who know how to use proper timing methods, cut out what's unnecessary, and implement the proper logical reasoning.

However, there is an explanation why this section is so difficult: it overwhelms you with information.

It requires you to take all of the information that it gives you, condense it, and implement it. All the while, you're being timed. Every second you take is a second against your score. You're not given enough time to take apart every detail and extrapolate upon it. Instead, you need to be able to find the information that you need and work with that information specifically. Nothing else matters.

That's pretty much the entire ACT in a nutshell: it floods you with information and in only a matter of minutes, expects you to build an ark. Be careful not to drown yourself in a sea of information.

The key to your success is finding exactly what you need and solving the problem. Disregard anything that does not relate to the actual question. If a piece of information does not help you solve the actual problem, it's dead weight.

Interestingly, the ACT science section stands apart from other sections. For example, if you memorized every grammar rule in the book, you could blaze past the English problems with ease. However, this same rule does not apply to the science section. Your skill with the sciences does not guarantee that you will have a high score. In order to be proficient with the ACT science section, you must have speed. You need to implement the process of elimination in order to succeed.

Effectually, you need to take the information and boil it down to the core. That's how you implement the process of elimination: eliminate anything that you don't need.

To help you better understand, let's pretend that the rules of the ACT have changed. Rather than starting with 0 points, you start out with a complete score. Right now, you have all the points for this section. Nevertheless, for every time that you do not gather enough information for answering a question, for every time that you waste too much time on one question, and for every time that you miss other questions, points will be subtracted from your final score. If you waste time, you lose points. Thus, as long as you make sure that you have enough information and time for every question, you will get a perfect score.

But now, let's get back to reality.

In reality, you start out with 0 points. In reality, you don't need to know any science to pass this section. No, this isn't a dream; you can pass the ACT exam with a perfect score without knowing the science behind it. You need to utilize the process of elimination. Get in, get the information that you need — use the passages, charts, and graphs — and get out. Mission accomplished.

But when you're on your mission, the ACT wants results. There isn't time to be creative. There isn't time to do something else. There isn't time to experiment. There isn't time to complain. Instead, the process must be automatic. Find the information, answer the question, find the information, answer the question, and rinse and repeat until the section is done.

By the end of this article, you should know the steps to completing the ACT science section by heart. Leave nothing to chance.

So, here's how you will function during the ACT science section:

  1. Step 1: Avoid reading anything before reading the question; read the question first.
  2. Step 2: After reading the question, check the answers and find out what the question is getting at.
  3. Step 3: Ignore everything except for the table, study, or figure.
  4. Step 4: Annihilate any wrong answers and don't come up with different answers.
  5. Step 5: Destroy answers that don't work with the information that has been given.

However, keep in mind one rule: if you cannot answer a science question properly, answer it as best and as fast as you can and move on. Don't doddle.

If you must, choose a question at random from the answers you have remaining. It would be better for you to leave a question to chance than to waste precious time.

Remember that every question found in the ACT science section, whether hard or easy, is only worth a single point — nothing more nothing less. The people who grade your ACT could less care if you thought about a question. They may want you to be smart. But if you just so happen to guess on a specific question and get it right, they'll give you the point. Thinking does not give you any points. You cannot increase the number of points you receive on a question by meditating.

If you could increase the number of points that you receive for a given question by thinking, everyone would try impersonating Auguste Rodin's The Thinker.

Time and the ACT, sadly, do not get along. If you are attempting to achieve a perfect score, you only have roughly 52 seconds to complete every question. Effectually, when you spend too much time on a given problem, that effectually means that you're forfeiting points on another question. And no question is worth more than another question. All questions on the science section are created equal.

Sadly, when it comes down to it, there might be some questions that you have to sacrifice. Not every question can be saved.

But remember what we talked about earlier. Whenever you find a new question, discard any information that is not necessary. Your primary goal is to find information that is relevant to the question. That's all that you need to do.

You also need to keep in mind that your mind is unique. Not all the questions are going to be easy. They might have been created to be simple, but that doesn't mean you are going to have an easy time.

Every question is different. Just as every person is created in a different fashion, so is every question. Someone else might find the very same question that you're working on to be exceptionally easy. On the other hand, you might find one of their hardest questions to be extremely simple. Thankfully, not every question is the same. So, not every question is going to be a brutal challenge.

And under no circumstances should you go back to a question. When you take the ACT, that rule is law.

Once you have given an answer, that's your answer. You cannot redo a question. Consider a question that you have answered as dead to you. You don't have time to go back and fix a question. A question answered is a question won or a question lost. It's a battlefield out there. And all you can do is save what questions that you can. However, if you spend too much trying to save a question, you may lose others. That's just the cost of this war between you and the ACT.

If you go back or spend too much time on a question, your mind can get distracted. You might start to lose focus. You won't be able to think about other questions. You will be stranded and isolated on one question, hopelessly lost. You might not know what defeat feels like when it first comes. You might not even know what defeat feels like until it is too late. You may hear that you only have so much time left and still be lost in your mind. You cannot take any question with you. You cannot become emotionally attached to the question. You cannot date nor marry the question. The question is not your friend. You must let go of the question. You must release the question. You must say goodbye to the question.

In order to save the most questions, maintain smooth performance. Go from one question to the next. Consider yourself a factory worker, moving from one ACT question to the next ACT question. Read the question, fill in the blank, read the question, fill in the blank... You get the idea.

You will do better on the examination if you answer all of the questions with 80% accuracy rather than answering only part of the questions with higher accuracy. A high score is impossible to obtain without getting to each problem. And with more practice, you can increase your chances of getting to every question. I would recommend starting with one of your practice books or working on one of the lists we mentioned previously. There's also a list below to help you as well.

That's all there is to it.