How to Improve Your ACT Science Score

Are you worried about how well you’ll do in the Science portion of the ACT? Here are some tips that should help you get a higher score.

It’s natural to be worried about the ACT Science portion if you’re planning to take the ACT. After all, most students tend to forget about the particular lessons and facts they once covered when they were taking up Biology, Earth Science, Chemistry, or Physics.

The good news is that the ACT won’t actually test your knowledge about specific lessons from these particular Science subjects. Instead, the ACT checks out your ability to employ logic and reason, as well as how you can solve given problems scientifically.

Most of the Science problems generally provide you with the scientific data you’ll need to answer the questions they pose. But you have to glean the answers using the graphs, tables, and maps included in the questions. You will be tested on how well you interpret the questions, and how you’re able to detect patterns within the data provided.

So, how should you really prepare for the ACT Science portion? Here are some tips that can help:

Get Help

If there’s one tip that you ought to take to heart on this list, it’s this first tip on our list. You need help. We can’t stress this enough.

Sure, it’s entirely possible that you can do well enough if you study on your own. But it’s a lot more likely that you’ll do better if you get help.

That sort of help can come in several guises. For some, that means reviewing for the ACT with the help of other students who have taken the ACT before. You may also want to consider an online prep course from a reputable brand, or some tutoring from an experienced ACT tutor.

If you can afford to pay maybe $100 for an online ACT prep course, you really should consider it. Such a course can provide you with video lessons, thousands of practice questions that cover all the CT subject areas, and even realistic ACT practice tests.

You can then familiarize yourself with the test and the possible questions, and prepare accordingly.

Keep Calm During the Test

Do you tend to get flustered when you’re taking major tests in school? If that’s the case, find ways to calm yourself down. This starts with getting a good night’s sleep before the test. It also helps you calm down if you’re reviewed for the ACT diligently, such as if you’ve taken an AACT online prep course.

If it helps, remind yourself that you’re not being tested on previous Science lessons you’ve learned in school. Instead, you will be tested on how you’re able to analyze and interpret the questions and data you’re provided.

Take the Practice Tests

In particular, try to answer the practice problems for the ACT Science portion. These practice tests will familiarize you with the type of questions you’ll face so that you’re not faced with a strange format of science question you haven’t encountered before. While the details of the science problem will be different from your practice problems, the format should still be similar (and therefore familiar).

Practice tests are also diagnostic, which means they can identify the areas in which you still need more work. Find out if you’re having more trouble with a specific type of science question, and then focus on these questions when you resume your ACT review.

Recognize the Type of Problems

There are usually 3 types of passages that appear in the ACT Science portion:

  • Conflicting Viewpoints (usually 7 questions)
  • Research Summaries (usually 6 questions)
  • Data Representation (usually 5 questions)

It’s very common (though not a certainty) that you’ll get 3 passages with 5 questions, 3 passages with 6 questions, and a single passage with 7 questions.

Do your research on these types of passages, and develop your own methods of solving them quickly. Some people learn how to speed-read, before they tackle the questions. Others simply read the questions first, and then try to find the answer by locating the needed data in the passage. Find out which method works for you.

Familiarize Yourself with the Scientific Method

In fact, it really helps if you conduct a lot of scientific experiments during your high school studies. If you learn how to present the data you’ve gleaned with tables and charts, you’ll find it easier to analyze those charts and tables when you encounter them in the ACT.

If you’re unable to do a lot of experiments yourself, read up on other experiments online. Check out how they present the data they gather, as often the scientists use charts and tables to explain their findings. Also check out how they arrive at certain conclusions, using those tables and charts.

Keep in mind that these tables and charts will appear on the Data representation passages. Practice your ability to interpret these tables and charts by glancing at them and then trying to determine what the charts represent. Then read the passage and see if your interpretation of the charts is correct.

Be Mindful of the Time Limit

Taking the ACT Science practice tests also help you learn to manage your time appropriately. The test will give you 7 passages to read, for which you get a total of 40 questions.

And you have only 35 minutes to answer all these questions. Do the math, and that’s less than a minute for each question.

This means you need to develop your speed-reading skills, and you should learn to identify the main point of the passage right away. Then you should learn how to analyze the data, so that you can answer the question quickly.

Remember, you have 5 minutes for each passage and all the questions for each particular passage. It’s not enough to practice with just the science problems. You have to practice with the time limit in mind.

In practical terms, quickly decide if a particular question will take too long to answer. Go through the easy questions first, and then come back for the more difficult questions later.

Use Your Extra Time Wisely

It’s very possible that you can become ready enough for the ACT science portion that you’re able to finish the 40 questions even before the 35-minute time limit is up. If this happens during the practice tests, use your remaining time to review your work and see that you haven’t made any silly mistakes.

Of course, you ought to do the same thing for the real ACT. Go over your answers, and make sure that each answer actually answers the question posed.


A lot of first-time ACT test-takers have remarked that the ACT Science portion of the test was actually easier than what they feared. You don’t actually have to be a budding scientist to do well with this part of the test. It doesn’t test your knowledge of particular science topics. Instead, you just have to be able to interpret data using visual tools and think logically when using the data.

All you need to do is to keep your cool, manage your time, and focus on the details. Hone your skills with plenty of practice ACT Science tests, and the real thing won’t be as hard as you may have imagined!

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