Elizabeth has been involved with tutoring since high school and has a B.A. in Classics.
The ACT Science test has three different types of passages, but in this lesson, we'll focus on just one of those: Research Summaries passages. These are passages that describe one or more experiments and then ask you about the results.
The name of the test makes it sound like something you'd do in the lab, but in fact, it's all multiple-choice, so don't worry: you'll never have to touch a Bunsen burner yourself. The Research Summaries passages are about other people's experiments, not yours. But they can still be quite tricky, especially when you have to compare information given in two different charts or tables. In this lesson, we'll cover what you'll see on these passages and how to approach them on the test.
Here's a preview of a sample Research Summaries passage:
When you're working through these passages on the test, don't get too hung up on reading every word. It's just not necessary, and it takes way more time than you have to spend on one passage. Remember: you want to spend most of your time on the questions, because that's where you get your points. To save time, you can get a kind of summary of the passage by reading the important parts.
The first sentence of the passage introduces the experiment, and the labels on the table and the graph let you know what kind of information they contain. Just from the first sentence, we can tell that this is an experiment about rats and weight gain and that we have two different experimental variables: sleep deprivation and diet. Then you get a table showing how much food each rat ate and a chart showing the weight gain for each group of rats.
That's plenty to start with - if you need specific information, you can always come back and find it later. You don't have time to go over the passage in detail, so just get this quick summary and then move on to the questions.
All the questions on the Research Summaries passages are multiple-choice, with four answer choices each. They're all worth exactly the same number of points, regardless of how easy or difficult they are.
Some questions will just ask you to go find information in the passage and report back. These are typically the quickest and easiest questions. Other questions will ask you to interpret the experiment or draw conclusions about it. These are typically a little harder, since you have to go back to the study and figure out a trend or pattern in the data. And some questions will ask you about the experimental process itself - that's why the test writers bother setting these passages up as experiments in the first place.
In general, it's most time-efficient to start with the quick, fact-finding questions. Instead of wasting a lot of time reading the passage, you can use the easy questions to get familiar with it while you earn the all-important points. Then move on to the hard ones once you have a solid idea of what's going on.
Unfortunately, the questions aren't in any particular order, so you'll have to figure out for yourself which type is which. But once you get some practice, you'll be able to figure this out just by reading the questions.
In this lesson, you learned about the Research Summaries passages on the ACT Science test. These passages are set up as reports on one or more experiments. After each passage, several multiple-choice questions ask you to find data, analyze the experimental procedure and draw conclusions from the results.
To help you with strategy, remember these two tips:
- Skim the passage instead of reading it thoroughly.
- Tackle the fact-finding questions first.
This will help you manage your time and get in as many questions as possible before that buzzer rings. More time saved means more questions answered, which means more points for you - hooray!
You should have the ability to do the following after this lesson:
- Describe how the Research Summaries passages are organized on the ACT Science test
- Identify the types of multiple choice questions you will see on this test
- Explain two tips to help you manage your time and get points on this test
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