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David Recine

How to Get a Perfect 36 Score in ACT Science

In ACT Science, you don’t need to be a scientific genius to get a perfect 36. With good skills building and practice, you can master this part of the exam.

As you aim for a perfect score in ACT Science, bear in mind that this part of the exam does not test your scientific knowledge. Instead, it tests your ability to read and understand science texts and data. To excel, you don’t need to memorize scientific facts– you just need to be comfortable with university-level science passages.

To Get a Perfect 36 in ACT Science, Practice Reading Academic Science Texts

Certain popular scientific websites match ACT Science texts in terms of tone and sophistication. Popular Science and the Public Library of Science website both have good reading practice, comparable to the style and complexity of science readings on the ACT. Scientific American is pretty good too.

You should also read actual university science textbooks if possible, because the ACT Science section really is designed to test your ability to handle undergraduate science course materials. Aim for first and second year texts, but don’t shy away from more advanced college science, if the difficulty level is similar to what you see in official ACT test preparation materials.

If you’re not sure where to find college science readings, ask someone at the reference desk of your local public library… or check with some university faculty. Many university faculty members will be more than happy to show some science texts to an ambitious aspiring college student.

To Get a Perfect 36 in ACT Science, Practice Reading Visual Information

Make sure you do some reading practice that helps you prepare for the many ACT Science graphs and tables you’ll see on the exam. Again, the idea here is to practice reading for skill, not for content. This means you don’t necessarily need to look just at science graphs and tables. Any practice you do reading visually organized data will help.

For infographic reading practice, a number of popular websites can provide you with some ACT-like visuals. News websites are full of graphs and tables related to economics, politics, and other topics. And of course, Popular Science, Scientific American and the Public Library of Science, mentioned and linked above, also have plenty of articles with informational visuals.

There will always be a few science visuals on the ACT that are unusually complicated, more so than the visuals you’ll find on informational websites meant for the general public. To practice for more complex ACT visuals, I suggest looking at the data on Information is Beautiful, a site devoted to graphic data.

The right combination of reading practice can really help you get that perfect score. The other half of the “perfect 36” equation is skills-building.

To Get a Perfect 36 in ACT Science, Build Your Math Skills

There is a lot of math in ACT Science. Don’t worry though—the math in the ACT Science section will not be as complicated as the ACT Math section itself.

But you will need to have a a good sense for numbers. To get a perfect 36 in ACT Science, you should be able to comprehend the meaning of complex numbers as they appear in sets of scientific data. You’ll need to understand exactly how each number quantifies a property, characteristic, or scientific variable.

You will also need to make simple calculations based on math formulas that appear in scientific passages. You won’t need to memorize any formulas, because the formulas will be given and completely explained on the ACT Science test. And you won’t need to make precise calculations of exact numbers like you would in the Math section. Instead, the math of ACT Science requires you to estimate the value of variables using given formulas and instructions.

In your reading practice, notice the times that an article cites scientific measurements and numbers. Really understand how those numbers are used to calculate other numbers. For example, you should be able to understand how two variables such as tree height and tree age could be used to calculate a third variable such as the annual rate of tree growth.

When you see numbers in your ACT Science reading practice, don’t just skip over them– understand what they really mean in the context of the passage. And take the time to play with the variables in a science article. Whenever an article makes a conclusion based on the numbers, double-check the conclusions by making your own calculations.

And try changing the numbers to make new calculations of your own. Returning to the tree growth rate example, a student could practice the math of ACT Science by changing a tree’s age or height, then re-calculating annual growth rate.

To Get a Perfect 36 in ACT Science, Recognize and Apply the Scientific Method

To get a perfect 36 in ACT science, you need to think like a scientist as you go through practice materials. Understand the ways in which scientists use logic to gather data, interpret it, and reach conclusions. Then apply that logic to ACT Science questions. On the exam, you may be asked to identify the best procedure for gathering scientific data, or choose the most valid model for an experiment. To excel at these questions, you need to recognize the logic of the scientific method, as seen in your practice readings.

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About David Recine

David is a test prep expert at Magoosh. He has a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and a Masters in Teaching English to Speakers of other Languages from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. He has been teaching K-12, University, and adult education classes since 2007 and has worked with students from every continent. Currently, David lives in a small town in the American Upper Midwest. When he’s not teaching or writing, David studies Korean, plays with his son, and takes road trips to Minneapolis to get a taste of city life. Follow David on Google+ and Twitter!


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