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|Danville High School Guidance ACT Strategies
|Strategies for Taking the ACT Test
|from the Preparing for the ACT Assessment booklet. Information that does not pertain to the majority of DHS
students has been omitted. For complete details, check the ACT web
site. Visit Test
Prep Review for free practice tests.
for the ACT
|Strategies for Taking the ACT
|General Preparation for the ACT
|Choosing a Test Date
Before you choose a test date, consider
the application deadlines of the colleges and scholarship agencies
that are of interest to you. It will take four to seven weeks after
a test date for ACT to mail your score report to you and to your
college or agency choices.
Many college and scholarship agencies recommend that students take
the ACT during the spring of their junior year. By this time, students
typically have completed most of the coursework covered by the ACT.
There are a number of advantages in taking the ACT then:
- You will receive test scores and other information that will
help you plan your senior year in high school.
- Many colleges begin contacting prospective students during the
summer before the senior year.
- If you do not score as well as you believe you can, there will
be opportunities to retake the ACT in the fall of your senior
year and still have the new information available in time to meet
admission and scholarship deadlines.
NOTE: You cannot plan on receiving your
scores from one national test date in time to register for the next.
|General Test-Taking Strategies
The ACT consists of tests in four areas:
English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science. Each of these tests
contains multiple-choice questions that offer either four or five
answer choices from which you are to choose the correct, or best,
answer. The following suggestions apply to tests in all four areas:
The time limits set for each ACT test give nearly everyone enough
time to finish all the questions. However, because the English,
Reading, and Science Tests contain a considerable amount of text,
it is important to pace yourself so you will not spend too much
time on one passage. Similarly, try not to spend too much time puzzling
over an answer to a specific problem in the Mathematics Test. Go
on to the other questions and come back if there is time.
Your supervisor will announce when there are five minutes remaining
on each test.
Read the directions for each test carefully.
Before you begin taking one of the ACT tests, read the directions
carefully. The English, Reading, and Science Tests ask for the "best"
answer. Read each questions carefully to make sure you understand
the type of answer required. Then, you may want to work out the
answer you feel is correct and look for it among the choices given.
If your answer is not among the choices provided, reread the question
and consider all of the answer choices.
Read each question carefully.
It is important that you understand what each question asks. Some
questions will require you to go through several steps to find the
correct or best answer, while others can be answered more quickly.
Answer the easy questions first.
The best strategy for taking the ACT is to answer
the easy questions and skip the questions you find difficult.
After answering all of the easy questions, go back and answer the
more difficult questions.
Use logic in more difficult questions.
When you return to the more difficult questions, try to use logic
to eliminate incorrect answers to a question. Compare the answer
choices to each other and note how they differ. Such differences
may provide clues as to what the question requires. Eliminate as
many incorrect answers as you can, then make an educated guess from
the remaining answers.
Answer every question.
Your score on the ACT tests will be based on the number of questions
that you answer correctly; there is no penalty for guessing. Thus, you should answer every question within the time allowed for
each test, even if you have to guess. The supervisor will announce
when there are five minutes remaining on each test.
Review your work.
If there is time left after you have answered every question in
a test, go back and check your work in that test. Check to be sure
that you marked only one answer to each question. You will not be
allowed to go back to any other test or make answers to a test after
time has been called on that test.
Be precise in marking your answer document.
Be sure that you fill in the correct ovals and rectangles on your
answer document. Check to be sure that the number of the line of
ovals on your answer document is the same as the number of the question
you are answering. Position your answer document next to your test
booklet so you can mark your answers quickly and completely.
If you want to change an answer on your answer document, be sure
to erase the unintended mark completely.
To students approved to test at national test centers
with extended time:
You will have a total of five hours, including breaks, to take
the ACT. Supervisors will announce when each hour has passed. You
will need to pace yourself through each test in order to complete
all four tests within the time allowed. For each test, check your
work before notifying the supervisor that you are ready to go on
to the next test.
|Preparing for the Test Day
Although what you know will determine
how well you do on the ACT, your attitudes, emotions, and physical
state may also influence your performance. The following tips will
help you do your best:
- Be confident in your ability to do well on the ACT. You can
- Be prepared to work hard.
- Know what to expect on the test day. Familiarize yourself with
the information in the ACT Assessment booklet and in the registration
- Take the practice test and review your responses so you will
feel comfortable about the approaching test day.
- Prepare well in advance for the test. Do not leave preparation
to the last minute.
- Get plenty of rest the night before the test so you will be
in good physical condition for taking it.
- Bring the following items with you to the test center:
- Your test center admission ticket (if you are testing on
a national test date).
- Acceptable identification. Your admission ticket is not
identification. If you do not present acceptable identification
at the time of check-in, you will not be admitted to the test.
- Sharpened soft-lead (No. 2) pencils with good erasers. Do not bring a watch that has an alarm function.
You will not be allowed to set an alarm because it will disturb
other students. An announcement will be made by the supervisor
when five minutes remain on each test.
- A permitted calculator for use on the Mathematics Test,
if you wish to use one.
For students testing on national test dates:
- If you misplace your admission ticket, call ACT Registration
at (319) 337-1270 for assistance.
- Check your admission ticket for the location of the test center
to which you have been assigned. If you are unfamiliar with the
location, do a practice run to see how to get there and how much
time you will need to arrive on time.
- Plan to arrive by the time stated on your admission ticket.
If you arrive earlier than 7:45 am, you will probably have to
wait outside until the testing personnel have completed their
- Dress comfortably. To conserve energy, your test center may
be considerably warmer or cooler on weekends than during the week.
Please dress in such a way that you will be comfortable in a variety
|Use of Calculators on the ACT Assessment Mathematics
You may use a calculator on the ACT
Assessment Mathematics Test (but not on any of the other tests in
the ACT Assessment). You are not required to use a calculator. All the problems can be solved without a calculator.
If you regularly use a calculator in your math work, you may wish
to use one you are familiar with as you take the Mathematics Test.
Using a more powerful, but unfamiliar, calculator is not likely
to give you an advantage over using the kind you normally use.
You may use any four-function, scientific, or graphing calculator.
Unless it has features described in the Prohibited list. For models on the Permitted with Modification list, you will be required to modify some of the calculator's features.
The following types of calculators are prohibited:
- pocket organizers
- handheld or laptop computers
- electronic writing pads or pen-input devices—The Sharp
EL 9600 is permitted.
- calculators built into cellular phones or other wireless communication
- calculators with a typewriter keypad (keys in QWERTY format)—Calculators
with letter keys not in QWERTY format are permitted.
- calculators with built-in computer algebra systems—Prohibited
calculators in this category include all calculators in all of the following series:
- Casio: CFX-9970G
- Texas Instruments: TI-89 and TI-92
- Hewlett-Packard: HP-40G and HP-49G
Information about which calculators are prohibited is regularly
updated by ACT. To be certain your calculator will be permitted
on test day, visit www.act.org or call (800) 498-6481 for a recorded
Calculators Permitted with Modification
The following types of calculators are permitted, but only
after they are modified as noted:
- calculators with paper tape—Remove the tape
- calculators that make noise—Turn off the sound feature.
- calculators that can communicate wirelessly with other calculators—Completely
cover the infrared data port with heavy opaque material, such
as duct tape or electrician's tape.
- calculators that have power cords—Remove all power/electrical
On the Test Day
If you decide to bring a calculator to the test center, it must
not be a prohibited type. Be sure your calculator is working and
has reliable batteries. You may bring a spare calculator and extra
batteries to the test center. Testing staff will not supply batteries
or calculators. You will not be allowed to share calculators during
Testing staff will check your calculator to verify it is a permitted
type, and they will monitor your use of your calculator to ensure
- use it only during the Mathematics Test;
- use your backup calculator only if your primary calculator fails
- do not share your calculator; and
- do not store test materials in your calculator's memory.
If your calculator has characters one inch high or larger, or a
raised display, testing staff may seat you where no other test taker
can see your calculator.
|Identification Required at Time of Check-In
must be presented at the time of check-in or you will not be admitted
to test. This requirement is designed to protect you. You must present ONE of the following:
- Current Official Photo ID: Current official photo ID recently issued by your school,
employer, or city/state/federal government (for example, driver's
license or current passport) on which BOTH your name and current
photograph appear. Only photo ID used by one of these listed institutions
- Recent Published Photo: Recognizable individual photograph of you in a current (within last
two years) publication (such as a newspaper or school yearbook)
with your first and last names in the caption. If you bring a
newspaper clipping, the testing staff may keep it to send to ACT.
- School Letter of Identification: If
you do not have acceptable photo ID, ask your counselor or other
school official (who may not be a relative)
for a letter of identification. Your counselor's letter must be on school letterhead and include your
name and full physical description or a recognizable
recent photograph with school seal or school official's signature
across a portion of the photo. (If school letterhead is computer-generated
or photocopied, a school seal is required.)
A photocopy of a transcript may be used only if it includes a recent photo and is signed as described below.
You must sign the letter in ink in the presence of the counselor or school official (who may not be a relative), and that official must also personally sign the letter in ink. Printed, stamped, or photocopied signatures
are not acceptable. You will be required to sign the letter
again on the test day in the presence of testing staff, and
they will keep the letter to send to ACT.
If you do not present one of the forms of ID in the above list,
you will not be admitted to the test center. The following forms
of ID are unacceptable: photo ID issued by a business for promotional
purposes (for example, amusement parks); membership card (for example,
health clubs); birth certificate; Social Security card; credit card,
with or without photo. Your parents or classmates may not present
identification on your behalf or "vouch for" you.
Plan ahead and be certain you will have acceptable ID with you
at check-in on the test day. (Traffic tickets or police reports
documenting a stolen wallet, even though they may include a physical
description and signature, are not acceptable.) If you have any
questions about acceptable ID, call ACT Test Administration at (319)
337-1510) before the test day.
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|Strategies for Taking the ACT Tests
The ACT measures the knowledge, understanding,
and skills that you have acquired throughout your education. Although
the sum total of this knowledge cannot easily be changed, your performance
in a specific subject matter area can be affected by adequate preparation,
especially if it has been some time since you have taken a course
in that area.
There are three strategies that can help you to prepare yourself
for the content included in the ACT.
Familiarize yourself with the content
of the ACT tests.
Review the information about the tests that is provided in the Preparing for the ACT Assessment booklet. Note which content
areas make up a large proportion of the tests and which do not.
The specific topics included in each content area are examples of
possible topics; they do not include all of the possibilities.
Refresh your knowledge and skills in
the content areas.
Review those content areas you have studied but do not have freshly
in your mind. Spend your time refreshing your knowledge in the content
areas that make up large portions of the tests.
Identify the content areas you have not
If unfamiliar content areas make up major portions of the tests,
consider taking coursework to help you gain knowledge in these areas
before you take the ACT. Because the ACT measures knowledge acquired
over a period of time, it is unlikely that a "cram" course
covering material that is unfamiliar to you will help you improve
your scores. Longer-term survey courses in the subject matter will
be most helpful to you, because they aim to improve your knowledge
in the area.
|ACT English Test
The English Test is a 75-question,
45--minute test that measures your understanding of the conventions
of standard written English (punctuation, grammar and usage, and
sentence structure) and of rhetorical skills (strategy, organization,
and style). Spelling, vocabulary, and rote recall of rules of grammar
are not tested. The test consists of five prose passages, each of
which is accompanied by a sequence of multiple-choice test questions.
Different passage types are employed to provide a variety of rhetorical
situations. Passages are chosen not only for their appropriateness
in assessing writing skills but also to reflect students' interests
Some questions refer to underlined portions of the passage and
offer several alternatives to the portion underlined. You must decide
which choice is most appropriate in the context of the passage.
Some questions ask about an underlined portion, a section of the
passage, or the passage as a whole. You must decide which choice
best answers the question posed. Many questions offer "NO CHANGE"
to the passage as one of the choices. The questions are numbered
consecutively. Each question number refers to a correspondingly
numbered portion underlined in the passage or to a corresponding
numeral in a box located at the appropriate point in the passage.
Three scores are reported for the ACT English Test: a total test
score based on all 75 questions, a subscore in Usage/Mechanics based
on 40 questions, and a subscore in Rhetorical Skills based on 35
Tips for Taking the ACT English Test
The ACT English Test contains 75 questions
to be completed in 45 minutes. If you spend 1.5 minutes skimming
through each passage before responding to the questions, then you
will have 30 seconds to answer each question. If possible, spend
less time on each question and use the remaining time allowed for
this test to review your work and return to the questions that were
most difficult for you.
Be aware of the writing style used in
The five passages cover a variety of topics
and are written in a variety of styles. It is important that you
take into account the writing style used in each passage when you
respond to the questions. In responding to a question, be sure to
understand the context of the question. Consider how the sentence
containing an underlined portion fits in with the surrounding sentences
and into the passage as a whole.
Examine the underlined portions of the
Before responding to a question with an underlined
portion, carefully examine what is underlined in the text. Consider
the elements of writing that are included in each underlined portion.
Some questions will ask you to base your decision on some specific
element of writing, such as the tone or emphasis the text should
convey. Some questions will ask you to choose the alternative to
the underlined portion that is NOT or LEAST acceptable. The answer
choices for each question will contain changes in one or more of
those elements of writing.
Be aware of questions with no underlined
You will be asked some questions about a
section of the passage or about the passage as a whole, in light
of a given rhetorical situation. Questions of this type are often
identified by a question number in a box located at the appropriate
point in the passage. Questions asking global questions about the
entire passage are placed at the end of the passage and introduced
by a horizontal box enclosing the following instruction: "Questions
____ and ____ ask about the preceding passage as a whole."
Note the differences in the answer choices.
Many of the questions in the test will involve
more than one aspect of writing. Examine each answer choice and
how it differs from the others. Be careful not to select an answer
that corrects one error but causes a different error.
Determine the best answer.
Two approaches can be taken to determine
the best answer to a question in which you are to choose the best
alternative to an underlined portion. In the first approach, you
can reread the sentence or sentences, substituting each of the possible
answer choices for the underlined portion to determine the best
choice. In the second approach, you can decide how the underlined
portion might best be phrased in standard written English or in
terms of the particular question posed. If you think the underlined
portion is the best answer, you should select "NO CHANGE."
If not, you should check to see whether your phrasing is one of
the other answer choices. If you do not find your phrasing, you
should choose the best of the answers presented. For questions cued
by a number in a box, you must decide which choice is most appropriate
in terms of the question posed or the stated rhetorical situation.
Reread the sentence, using your selected
Once you have selected the answer you feel
is best, reread the corresponding sentence(s) of the passage, inserting
your selected answer at the appropriate place in the text to make
sure it is the best answer within the context of the passage.
Content Covered by the ACT English Test
Six elements of effective writing are included
in the English Test: punctuation, grammar and usage, sentence structure,
strategy, organization, and style. The questions covering punctuation,
grammar and usage, and sentence structure make up the Usage/Mechanics
subscore. The questions covering strategy, organization, and style
make up the Rhetorical Skills subscore. A brief description and
the approximate percentage of the test devoted to each element of
effective writing are given below.
Punctuation (13%). Questions
in this category test your knowledge of the conventions of internal
and end-of-sentence punctuation, with emphasis on the relationship
of punctuation to meaning (for example, avoiding ambiguity, indicating
Grammar and Usage (16%). Questions
in this category test your understanding of agreement between subject
and verb, between pronoun and antecedent, and between modifiers
and the word modified; verb formation; pronoun case; formation of
comparative and superlative adjectives and adverbs, and idiomatic
Sentence Structure (24%). Questions
in this category test your understanding of relationships between
and among clauses, placement of modifiers, and shifts in construction.
Strategy (16%). Questions in this category test how well
you develop a given topic by choosing expressions appropriate to
an essay's audience and purpose; judging the effect of adding, revising,
or deleting supporting material; and choosing effective opening,
transitional, and closing sentences.
Organization (15%). Questions in this category test how
well you organize ideas and judge the relevance of statements in
context (making decisions about order, coherence, and unity).
Style (16%). Questions in this category test how well
you choose precise and appropriate words and images, maintaining
the level of style and tone in an essay, manage sentence elements
for rhetorical effectiveness, and avoid ambiguous pronoun references,
wordiness, and redundancy.
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|ACT Mathematics Test
The ACT Mathematics Test is a 50-question,
60-minute test designed to assess the mathematical skills students
have typically acquired in courses taken up to the beginning of
grade 12. The test presents multiple-choice questions that require
you to use reasoning skills to solve practical problems in mathematics.
Most questions are discrete, but on occasion some may belong to
sets of several questions (e.g., several questions based on the
same graph or chart). Knowledge of basic formulas and computational
skills are assumed as background for the problems, but complex formulas
and extensive computation are not required. The material covered
on the test emphasizes the major content areas that are prerequisites
to successful performance in entry-level courses in college mathematics.
Use of calculators is permitted on the Mathematics
Test. See information about permitted calculators above.
Four scores are reported for the ACT Mathematics Test: a total
test score based on all 60 questions, a subscore in Pre-Algebra/Elementary
Algebra based on 24 questions, a subscore in intermediate Algebra/Coordinate
Geometry based on 18 questions, and a subscore in Plane Geometry/Trigonometry
based on 18 questions.
Tips on Taking the ACT Mathematics Test
The ACT Mathematics Test contains 60 questions to be completed
in 60 minutes. The maximum estimated time that should be spent on
each question is 1 minute. If possible, spend less time on each
question and use the remaining time allowed for this test to review
your work and return to the questions on this test that were most
difficult for you.
If you use a calculator, use it wisely.
Remember, all of the mathematics problems can be solved without
using a calculator. In fact, some of the problems are best done
without a calculator. Use good judgment in deciding when, and when
not, to use a calculator. For example, for some problems you may
wish to do scratch work to clarify your thoughts on the question
before you begin using a calculator to do computations. For many
problems, you may not want to use a calculator.
Solve the problem.
For working out the solutions to the problems, writing space for
scratch work usually is available in the test booklet, or you will
be given scratch paper to use. You may wish to glance over the answer
choices after reading the questions. However, working backwards
from the answer choices provided can take a lot of time and may
not be effective.
Locate your solution among the answer
Once you have solved the problem, look for your answer among the
choices. If your answer is not included among the choices, carefully
reread the problem to see whether you missed important information.
Pay careful attention to the question being asked. If an equation
is to be selected, check to see whether the equation you think is
best can be transformed into one of the answer choices provided.
Make sure you answer the question.
The solutions to many questions in the test will involve several
steps. Make sure your answer includes all of the necessary steps.
Frequently, questions include answer choices that are based on incomplete
Make sure your answer is reasonable.
Sometimes an error in computation will result in an answer that
is not practically possible for the situation described. Always
think about your answer to determine whether it is reasonable.
Check your work.
You may arrive at an incorrect solution by making common errors
in the problem-solving process. Thus, if there is time available
before the end of the Mathematics Test, it is important that you
reread the questions and check your answers to make sure they are
Content Covered by the ACT Mathematics Test
Six content areas are included in the Mathematics Test: pre-algebra,
elementary algebra, intermediate algebra, coordinate geometry, plane
geometry, and trigonometry. The questions covering pre-algebra and
elementary algebra make up the Pre-Algebra/Elementary Algebra subscore.
The questions covering intermediate algebra and coordinate geometry
make up the Intermediate Algebra/Coordinate Geometry subscore. And
the Plane Geometry/Trigonometry subscore is based on the questions
covering plane geometry and trigonometry. A brief description and
the approximate percentage of the test devoted to each content area
are given below.
Pre-Algebra (23%). Questions in this content area are
based on basic operation using whole numbers, decimals, fractions,
and integers; place value; square roots and approximations; the
concept of exponents; scientific notation; factors; ratio, proportion,
and percent; linear equations in one variable; absolute value and
ordering numbers by value; elementary counting techniques and simple
probability; data collection, representation, and interpretation;
and understanding simple description statistics.
Elementary Algebra (17%). Questions in this content area
are based on properties of exponents and square roots, evaluation
of algebraic expressions through substitution, using variables to
express functional relationships, understanding algebraic operations,
and the solution of quadratic equations by factoring.
Intermediate Algebra/Coordinate Geometry
Intermediate Algebra (15%). Questions in this content
area are based on an understanding of the quadratic formula, rational
and radical expressions, absolute value equations and inequalities,
sequences and patterns, systems of equations, quadratic inequalities,
functions, modeling, matrices, roots of polynomials, and complex
Coordinate Geometry (15%). Questions in this content area
are based on graphing and the relations between equations and graphs,
including points, lines, polynomials, circles, and other curves;
graphic inequalities; slope; parallel and perpendicular lines; distance;
midpoints; and conics.
Plane Geometry (23%). Questions in this content area are
based on the properties and relations of plane figures, including
angles and relations among perpendicular and parallel lines; properties
of circles, triangles, rectangles, parallelograms, and trapezoids;
transformations; the concept of proof and proof techniques; volume;
and applications of geometry to three dimensions.
Trigonometry (7%). Questions in this content area are
based on understanding trigonometric relations in right triangles;
values and properties of trigonometric functions; graphing trigonometric
functions; modeling using trigonometric functions; use of trigonometric
identities; and solving trigonometric equations.
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|ACT Reading Test
The Reading Test is a 40-question,
35-minute test that measures your reading comprehension. The test
questions ask you to derive meaning from several texts by (1) referring
to what is explicitly stated and (2) reasoning to determine implicit
meaning. Specifically, questions will ask you to use referring and
reasoning skills to determine main ideas; locate and interpret significant
details; understand sequences of events; make comparisons; comprehend
cause-effect relationships; determine the meaning of context-dependent
words, phrases, and statements; draw generalizations; and analyze
the author's or narrator's voice and method. The test comprises
four prose passages that are representative of the level and kinds
of text commonly encountered in college freshman curricula. Each
passage is preceded by a heading that identifies what type of passage
it is (for example, "Prose Fiction"), names the author,
and may include a brief note that helps in understanding the passage.
Each passage is accompanied by a set of multiple-choice test questions.
These questions do not test the rote recall of facts from outside
the passage, isolated vocabulary items, or rules of formal logic.
Three scores are reported for the ACT Reading Test: a total test
score based on all 40 questions, a subscore in Social Studies/Sciences
reading skills (based on the 20 questions in the social studies
and natural science sections of the test), and a subscore in Arts/Literature
reading skills (based on the 20 questions in the prose fiction and
humanities sections of the test).
Tips for Taking the ACT Reading Test
The ACT Reading Test contains 40 questions to be completed in 35
minutes. If you spend 2-3 minutes reading each passage, then you
will have about 35-41 seconds to answer each question. If possible,
spend less time on the passages and the questions and use the remaining
time allowed for this test to review your work and return to the
questions on this test that were most difficult for you.
Read the passage carefully.
Before you begin answering a question, read the entire passage
thoroughly. It is important that you read every sentence rather
than skim the text. Be conscious of relationships between or among
ideas. You may want to make notes about important ideas in the passage
either in the test booklet or on the scratch paper provided.
Refer to the passage when answering the questions.
Answers to some of the questions will be found by referring to
what is explicitly stated in the text. Other questions will require
you to determine implicit meanings and to draw conclusions, comparisons,
and generalizations. Refer to the passage before you answer any
Content Covered by the ACT Reading Test
The Reading Test is based on four types of reading selections:
the social studies, the natural sciences, prose fiction, and the
humanities. A subscore in Social Studies/Sciences reading skills
is based on the questions in the social studies and the natural
sciences sections of the test, and a subscore in Arts/Literature
reading skills is based on the questions in the prose fiction and
humanities sections of the test. A brief description and the approximate
percentage of the test devoted to each type of reading selection
are given below.
Social Studies (25%). Questions in this category are based
on passages in the content areas of anthropology, archaeology, biography,
business, economics, education, geography, history, political science,
psychology, and sociology.
Natural Sciences (25%). Questions in this category are
based on passages in the content areas of anatomy, astronomy, biology,
botany, chemistry, ecology, geology, medicine, meteorology, microbiology,
natural history, physiology, physics, technology, and zoology.
Prose Fiction (25%). Questions in this category are based
on intact short stories or excerpts from short stories or novels.
Humanities (25%). Questions in this category are based
on passages from memoirs and personal essays and in the content
areas of architecture, art, dance, ethics, film, language, literary
criticism, music, philosophy, radio, television, and theater.
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|ACT Science Test
The Science Test is a 40-questions,
35-minute test that measures the interpretation, analysis, evaluation,
reasoning, and problem-solving skills required in the natural sciences.
The test presents seven sets of scientific information, each followed
by a number of multiple-choice test questions. The scientific information
is conveyed in one of three different formats: data representation
(graphs, tables, and other schematic forms), research summaries
(descriptions of several related experiments), or conflicting viewpoints
(expressions of several related hypotheses or views that are inconsistent
with one another). The questions require you to recognize and understand
the basic features of, and concepts related to, the provided information;
to examine critically the relationship between the information provided
and the conclusions drawn or hypotheses developed; and to generalize
from given information to gain new information, draw conclusions,
or make predictions. The use of calculators is not permitted on the Science Test.
One score is reported for the ACT Science Test: a total test score
based on all 40 questions.
Tips for Taking the ACT Science Test
The ACT Science Test contains 40 questions to be completed in 35
minutes. If you spend about 2 minutes reading each passage, then
you will have about 30 seconds to answer each question. If possible,
spend less time on the passages and the questions and use the remaining
time allowed for this test to review your work and return to the
questions on this test that were most difficult for you.
Read the passage carefully.
Before you begin answering a question, read the scientific material
provided. It is important that you read the entire text and examine
any tables, graphs, or figures. You may want to make notes about
important ideas in the information provided, either in the test
booklet or on the scratch paper provided. Some of the information
sets will describe experiments. You should consider the experimental
design, including the controls and variables, because questions
are likely to address this component of scientific research.
Note different viewpoints in passages.
Some material will present conflicting points of view, and the
questions will ask you to distinguish among the various viewpoints.
It may be helpful for you to mark notes summarizing each viewpoint,
either next to that section in your test booklet (or if you are
testing outside the US on the scratch paper provided). For questions
that ask you to compare viewpoints, these notes will help you answer
Content Covered by the ACT Science Test
The content of the Science test includes biology, chemistry, physics,
and the Earth/space sciences (for example, geology, astronomy, and
meteorology). Advanced knowledge in these subjects is not required,
but background knowledge acquired in general, introductory science
courses is needed to answer some of the questions. The test emphasizes
scientific reasoning skills over recall of scientific content, skill
in mathematics, or reading ability. The scientific information is
conveyed in one of three different formats.
Data Representation (38%). This format presents graphic
and tabular material similar to that found in science journals and
texts. The questions associated with this format measure skills
such as graph reading, interpretation of scatter-plots, and interpretation
of information presented in tables.
Research Summaries (45%). This format provides descriptions
of one or more related experiments. The questions focus upon the
design of experiments and the interpretation of experimental results.
Conflicting Viewpoints (17%). This format presents expressions
of several hypotheses of view that, being based on differing premises
or on incomplete data, are inconsistent with one another. The questions
focus upon the understanding, analysis, and comparison of alternative
viewpoints or hypotheses.
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