Research Summaries Passages on ACT Science Reasoning

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Elizabeth Foster

Elizabeth has been involved with tutoring since high school and has a B.A. in Classics.

Never met a test tube you didn't drop on the floor of the lab? Don't worry; you can still do well on the Research Summaries passages on the ACT. Watch this lesson to find out what they are and how to tackle them.

Research Summaries

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.

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  • 0:03 Research Summaries
  • 0:47 The Passage
  • 1:57 The Questions
  • 3:14 Lesson Summary
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The Passage

Here's a preview of a sample Research Summaries passage:

Example Research Summaries passage
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.

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.

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