ACT science tips and strategies

Here we will discuss ACT Science tips and strategies that will help you maximize your score and performance on the ACT Science test. Remember, because the ACT is a timed test, strategy is just as important as your knowledge of the content!

It is possible to increase your ACT score by several points simply by taking the ACT in a different way.

General ACT Science Tips and Strategies

Here are three ACT Science tips and strategies that will help you on the ACT Reading test:

  1. Do not be intimidated because the test “looks hard.” The ACT Science test is designed to look unfamiliar to students. The answers to all of the questions can be found directly from the test.
  2. Learn the differences between the three different types of passages and the kinds of key information to look for in each passage.
  3. Do not let fatigue hurt your performance. This is the last test of the ACT. Finish strong!

ACT Science Tips and Strategies – Timing for the ACT Science Test

The ACT Science test is 35 minutes long, and there are seven passages. Although this comes out to be about 5 minutes per passage, you should spend less time on the Data Representation passages because they are only five questions each, and more time on the Conflicting Viewpoitns passage because it is seven questions.

You should spend no more than about 52 seconds per question, but again, it is preferable that you spend less time than this for each question if possible.

The ACT Science test is the most rushed test on the ACT, so make sure you keep track of time and get to all of the passages and questions. Most students do not finish all seven passages, so if you manage your time well to get to all seven passages, you will have a tremendous advantage over other students.

ACT Science Tips and Strategies – In what order should I do the questions?

There are two parts to the answer to this question: 1) the order of the passages, and 2) the order of the questions.

In What Order Should I Do the Passages?

Do the Conflicting Viewpoints passage last, for two reasons: 1) it is significantly different from the other ACT Science passages, so saving it for last will allow you to maintain focus and flow during the test. 2) most students consider this the most difficult passage, so you want to make sure you have time for all of the other passages. Also, you might have extra time at the end to spend on the Conflicting Viewpoints passage.

Skip any passage that looks particularly difficult and save it for later. Which passages you skip and do last will depend upon your gut feeling. You know yourself and what is difficult for you.

In What Order Should I Do the Questions

ACT Reading strategies and tips

For the Data Representation and Research Summary passages, read the questions first, and then find the answers in the passages. For the Conflicting Viewpoints passage, read the passage first and try to find out the main point of each side first; then, read the questions.

Skip around liberally within a passage (find and do the easiest ones first), but answer all of the questios for a passage before moving on to another passage.

ACT Science Tips and Strategies – Skipping/Marking Questions

Skipping Questions

Skip around within a particular passage, but answer every question for a particular passage before moving on to the next passage.

Marking Questions

Circle the numbers of the questions you are unsure about to come back to if you have time. You do not want to waste time staring at one question.

ACT Science Tips and Strategies – Bubbling

Bubble after each of the passages (5, 6, or 7 questions at a time). This will allow you to maintain focus during each passage and not disrupt your flow. This will also help you avoid bubbling mistakes.

When you hear the five minute warning, begin bubbling questions one at a time to make sure you are able to bubble every question.

ACT Science Tips and Strategies – Foundations to Work on before Taking the ACT Science Test: Reading and Practice Tests


A great way to prepare for the ACT Science test is to read a lot, especially college level non-fiction texts because there is a significant amount of reading on this test. Because time is so limited on the ACT Science test, it is vitally important that you are able to read quickly and with comprehension.

Your reading ability must be at a certain level for you to do well on the ACT Science test. Make sure you develop your reading speed and comprehension skills to the point where you can complete the ACT Science test in the time provided. This may mean reading way more than you are used to reading.

ACT Science Practice Tests

Because the ACT Science tests contains material that looks unfamiliar, taking as many ACT Science practice tests as possible will help you gain familiarity with what to expect from the test. You will get used to interpreting the charts and graphs, as well as analyzing experiments. The more you practice the kinds of passages that show up on the ACT Science test, the better you will do on the test.