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Kristin Fracchia

ACT Science: Linking Tables and Graphs

While many questions on the ACT only require you to look at one figure or table, there are also many that require you to combine information gleaned from multiple figures, tables, or even information in the passage. This is not as intimidating as it might initially seem if you follow one key process. I call this “finding the link” (a real creative title, I know).

Here’s how it works:

If a question asks you to look at multiple sources, you want to find the key term that appears on both sources. This is your “link” that helps you connect the dots between the data.

Let’s look at an example question:

Considering the data in Figure 1 and Table 1, which of the following could have been the absorption level measured for lead in Sample 5?

  1. 5%
  2. 7%
  3. 13%
  4. 17%

Here are the related figures:

Figure 1


Table 1


The fact that there are two different sources (Figure 1 and Table 1) referenced in the question clues us in to the fact that we should be looking to apply this strategy.

We can see that Figure 1 contains several of the key terms from the question: lead, absorption, but not Sample 5. On Table 1, we find lead, Sample 5, but not absorption. So “lead” is the link here because it appears on both figures. But we need a little more help to actually connect the dots for this question. So what else appears on both Figure 1 and Table 1? The answer is ppm.

If you notice, on the horizontal axis of Figure 1 we have ppm listed across the bottom, and along the top of the Table 1 we see ppm as well (ppm, if you are curious, stands for “parts per million.”) So, since the question asks about Sample 5, let’s start there in Table 1 and look at the “Lead in 100 ml” column. The value here is 2.3 ppm. So now, we can link this to Figure 1, find where 2.3 would fall along the horizontal axis of Figure 1 and follow the lead line (our other link), to see where it is at that point.  Looks like it is closest to 13% and so our answer is C.

So, as a recap, the basic process for linking charts and graphs is to find the key terms in your question, figure out which ones appear in both places referred to in the question and use that to link the other key terms. This takes a little practice, but once you get used to it, you’ll be surprised how quickly you can answer some questions without even needing to fully understand what the question is asking!


About Kristin Fracchia

Kristin makes sure Magoosh's blogs are chock-full of awesome, free resources for students preparing for standardized tests. With a PhD from UC Irvine and degrees in Education and English, she’s been working in education since 2004 and has helped students prepare for standardized tests, as well as college and graduate school admissions, since 2007. She enjoys the agonizing bliss of marathon running, backpacking, hot yoga, and esoteric knowledge.

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