Increase Your Speed on the ACT Science Section

If the ACT Science section was six hours long, almost everyone would get a perfect score. Unfortunately, you only have 35 minutes. Here are 6 tips to increase your speed:

1. Don’t pause between questions.

When you take school tests or other standardized tests, you might be used to looking over your answer for a second before moving on, just to be sure it’s correct. This is a great habit that will serve you well in the future. But on the ACT Science section? Forget it. As soon as you’ve chosen your answer, move your pencil to the next question.

2. Consider doing difficult Dueling Scientist passages last.

The Dueling Scientist passage takes the most time because you’ll actually be reading all of it (the one passage that presents two opinions and questions that ask you to analyze these opinions). If it shows up in Passages IV through VII, you might want to leave it for last. On the other hand, if it’s Passage I, II, or III – or if it looks like an easy read – you may as well do it now.

3. Do your favorite topics first. Leave ones you don’t like for later.

Even though very few questions require actual science knowledge, everyone has topics they feel confident about and topics that just seem hard. For example, Jeremy is currently taking Biology, so he likes passages about animal populations and genes. However, passages about kinetic and potential energy intimidate him because he hasn’t taken Physics yet. On the ACT Science section, be your own boss and do passages that seem easy to you first, then tackle the ones that look harder.

4. If a passage really confuses you, move to the next one.

Once in a while, you’ll encounter a passage that just makes no sense. Maybe there’s a bizarre diagram full of Greek letters. Maybe the descriptions of the experiments were so badly written you couldn’t understand them. This happens to everyone, but high-scoring students don’t let it faze them, even if it’s Passage I. Instead of worrying or re-reading, move calmly to the next passage and come back later if you have time.

5. Prioritize table-reading questions over conceptual questions.

The first few questions of each passage are usually the easiest. Why? Because those are the questions that simply ask you to read the tables and graphs. Questions that ask you to analyze or explain data usually come at the end of a passage. Therefore, don’t get stuck on the last question of Passage V when you could do the first three questions of Passage VI in the same amount of time.

6. Take timed practice tests.

The only real way to get a feel for ACT Science pacing is to take a timed section. Pick up The Real ACT Prep Guide or sign up for an online program like the WilsonDailyPrep, sit down at the kitchen table, and then set a timer for 35 minutes. Remember, the more you practice, the quicker you’ll get.

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