ACT Science Study Guide
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College admission exams are an important component of college applications within the United States. High school students can currently choose from two specific exams: the SAT and the ACT. The ACT has become an increasingly popular choice since its debut for numerous reasons, and has also gained traction outside of the United States among college-bound students.
High school students taking the ACT within the United States should find its contents familiar. The ACT focuses on all of the core subjects in order to gauge how prepared students will be for the college environment and its academic curriculum. These subjects are, more specifically, Science, English, Reading, and Mathematics.
The Science portion of the ACT is what sets this exam apart from the SAT; the SAT does not have a Science section. Because of this, the ACT may be ideal for those who want to show off their aptitude for science to their university of choice.
What Will Be on the ACT Science Exam?
Much of the content featured on the ACT Science exam will closely align with the curriculum students have experienced throughout their time in high school. Test takers may recognize elements of the scientific method, Earth Science, Physics, and Biology across the test.
Each question will be presented in one of three ways. Test takers will either receive two assertions that do not match up, despite sharing a scientific basis; summaries of a laboratory experiment; or a set of data, usually in the form of a diagram, table, or graph. They must then answer questions about the information being presented. All questions will be in multiple choice format.
The test will feature a 35 minute time limit, and 40 questions total. Every question featured on the ACT Science exam is spread across one of three reporting categories, which will be described below.
Evaluation of Models, Inferences, and Experimental Results focuses on how to decide whether a piece of information aligns with the results of a given experimental scenario, draw conclusions, and interpret scientific information. This category makes up between 25 and 35 percent of the exam.
Scientific Investigation involves the scientific method. It is the smallest category, accounting for only 20 to 30 percent of the test. Questions under this category will address how to interpret and work with the experimental process as well as how to plan and carry out an experiment and what tools are most commonly necessary.
The category will require students to interpret and work with different forms of scientific information. Specific tasks may include extrapolating information, creating graphs out of listed data, and identifying patterns. Data will typically be presented in the form of graphs, diagrams, and tables. The section of the exam is the largest, taking up 45 to 55 percent of its overall content.
Can Students Use Calculators on the Exam?
Unlike some other science exams, the ACT does not permit calculator usage on the Science subtest. They are only allowed for use on the Mathematics test.
How Will the Exam Be Scored?
The ACT grading team only awards points to test takers for correct answers to test questions. Wrong answers do not lead to points being taken away; rather, the test taker doesn’t receive any points whatsoever. Because of this, the writers of the ACT encourages students to guess the answers to questions they cannot figure out the right answer to; this is because there is the chance their guess could be the correct answer and lead to another point added to their score.
The highest score a student can earn on the ACT is 36. The lowest possible score is a 1. Each subject test on the exam is graded on this scale. Once each subject test has been graded, the ACT grading team will average all four scores to grant the student their “composite” score. Additionally, the test taker’s Science test score will be added to their Math test score in order to create their STEM score.
There is no minimum passing score for the ACT. According to statistics from the year 2017, the average score students received on the Science exam was 21. Test takers have the option to retest if they receive a score they are unhappy with. Scores are typically released two weeks following test day.
When Is the Exam Available to Test Takers?
The ACT test is generally available throughout the months of February, April, June, July, September, October, and December. Students who do not reside in the United States will have a different schedule; the test is available in April, June, September, October, and December. Specific testing dates will always be on Saturdays, regardless of a test taker’s exact location.
Testing fees vary according to which version of the test the student chooses. If a student wants to take the base version of the exam, they must pay $46.00. Taking the test with the Writing portion included will cost $62.50.
How Should Students Study for the ACT Science Exam?
Resources for the ACT exam can wildly vary. Ideally, students should turn to study tools that are thorough and accurate, but still easy to follow. The Mometrix Test Preparation team creates study tools designed to fit that bill. On this page, students will find two of the resources we have created specifically for the ACT Science exam. One is our ACT Science practice test. The other is our ACT Science study guide.
Some students study best by interacting directly with the material. If you want to know precisely what the exam will entail, the practice test is the best resource for you. It will let students do a “trial run” of the exam and its contents, as well as receive a mock score. Should you not like the score you receive, you know which areas of the ACT Science exam to focus your studies on, and can retake the practice exam to gauge your progress.
Our study guide is a bit more general. It provides a full explanation of each facet of the exam, as well as practice questions and how-to descriptions meant to teach students how to best approach the question.