Need help with your ACT science section preparation? Contact your local C2 for a free consultation today!

So what is the ACT science section? At its core, it’s a test of scientific analysis. It assesses your ability to synthesize scientific data and information in order to draw logical conclusions. But more than anything else, it’s a timed test. The ACT science section is one of the most challenging sections in terms of time, so managing your time well is the key to success. Read on for some ACT science section tips to help you maximize your score- be sure to experiment with different strategies when you take practice sections so that you can find the best approach for test day!

#1: Spend about 2 minutes reading the passage and analyzing the charts and graphs

  • Know the context of the information
  • Identify main ideas in the passage
  • Summarize what the charts and graphs are telling you

#2: Glance over the questions and underline key terms or references to the passage and graphs

  • Which tables or graphs are referenced
  • Scientific terms like specific elements
  • Identification of variables in an experiment

#3: Tackle the questions one by one starting with the ones you can answer most easily

  • The first few questions tend to be the easiest ones that require the least interpretation, and the later questions generally require more inferences
  • Don’t spend more than forty seconds per question – if a question takes too long, skip it and come back
  • Use process of elimination—the more answer choices you can eliminate, the better your odds of guessing correctly
  • Cross out eliminated answers in your test booklet—if you skip the question and come back, you can pick up where you left off

#4: After about 5 minutes total, move on to the next passage

  • You can always come back
  • You want to get to all the easiest questions for each passage

#5: Use remaining time to answer questions you skipped

  • Never leave a question blank – even a random guess gives you a chance of getting the right answer

ACT science section myths

Next, let’s talk about what the science section is not: a test of scientific knowledge. If you are prepping based on any of these notions, you may not be helping your cause for a maximum score and may even have a negative impact on your efforts. Here are some myths to keep remember.

  • You have to be really good at science – false
    • Only a handful of questions require actual science knowledge
    • The Science section tests your ability to interpret charts and graphs and to understand scientific writing
  • Skip the setup for the passages because it’ll just waste precious time – false
    • The setup puts everything else into context – you’ll be better able to interpret the charts and the passage if you have the context to work with
  • Don’t analyze the charts and graphs too carefully – false
    • Pay attention to axes
    • Look for outliers
    • Identify trends
  • You don’t need to know anything about science – false
    • Have a good grasp of the scientific method and how experiments are set up
    • Some questions – about 5 or 6 per test – will require basic knowledge of biology, chemistry, or physics concepts

For more tips on general ACT prep, read our Top 10 ACT prep tips blog post. If you’re interested in a free consultation for a personalized ACT prep program, contact your local C2 center.