– ACT Science –
Not Really Science At All….
No section fills students with more horror than the ACT science section. Who does this test think it is!? Testing your knowledge of chemistry, biology, and physics on top of everything else you’ve already had to learn? Outrageous!
Well, here’s the great news: the ACT science section has absolutely zilch to do with science. You can know zero physics, biology, chemistry, geology, etc., and still get a perfect ACT science score. But how is this possible?
What this section actually tests:
The ACT “science” section should really be called the ACT “using charts and graphs effectively” section. You’re not actually being tested on your knowledge of scientific concepts – instead, you’re being tested on your ability to use scientific information in context. There’s a wide, wide gape between the two.
For example, the ACT doesn’t want to know whether you remember all the steps in photosynthesis – they just want to know that you can decipher these steps if you’re shown a visual chart of the process.
For instance, you might be shown a picture of a plant with CO2, sunlight, and H20 going into the plant, and O2 coming out of the plant. A question might then ask:
What happens to the carbon and hydrogen that originally went into the plant?
A) They’re shot out as pure carbon and hydrogen gas.
B) They’re trapped in the plant as carbohydrates.
C) They vanish entirely.
D) They never go into the plant at all.
You don’t need to be a biochemist to figure this out. Option A makes no sense because the graph doesn’t show any carbon or hydrogen gas leaving the plant. B is correct – but even if you didn’t know that, look at C and D:
C is ridiculous because matter doesn’t “vanish” – it gets turned into other stuff.
D is ridiculous because the graph showed them going into the plant.
So do you need to know how photosynthesis works? Not at all. You need to know that matter doesn’t vanish, and that arrows going in and out of something mean that stuff is going in and out of something.
How to Get Awesome at ACT Science
This section is ridiculous enough that I’ve decided to devote an entire guide to it:
My Guide to the ACT Science Section
If you’re worried about the ACT Science section, don’t be – it’s probably the easiest section on any test (SAT included) to improve. It takes some strategy and practice, but there’s not much to it.