In this post, we’re going to talk about the best strategy for the ACT science test. There’s also a transcript below this video if you want to read it at your own pace.

The ACT science test is the last section of the ACT, and the reason why many students think science is the most difficult section of the ACT is because it is by far the most rushed test out of them all. It’s super important that you come into this test with a game plan for managing time, or else you’ll simply run out of it.

So, without further ado, here is the best 3 step strategy for the ACT science test.

Step #1: Do the conflicting viewpoints passage last.

The seven science passages will show up in a random order, but whenever you get to the conflicting viewpoints passage, whether it’s first, second, third, fourth, or whatever, skip it to do last. There are three reasons for doing this:

  1. First, the conflicting viewpoints passage is generally considered to be the most difficult science passage, so you don’t want to accidentally spend too much time on it before you get to the other easier passages.
  2. Second, the conflicting viewpoints is completely different in style than the other six passages, so it’s better to get into the proper mindset for it last, instead of interrupting your flow for the other six passages.
  3. And third, if you’re able to finish the other six passages a little early, you’ll be able to spend some extra time on this passage and do better on it.

Step #2: For the Data Representation and Research Summary passages, read just enough to find out one piece of information before reading the questions.


For the Data Representation passages, find the answer to this question:

What is the basic topic of the tables/charts?

And for the Research Summary passages, find the answer to this question:

What is the basic topic and purpose of the experiment?

The reason we want to find the answers to these simple questions first is because they’ll give us something basic to work with as we approach each question. Reading the questions first blindly can result in just utter confusion and frustration. It’s better to have at least something to help orient us when we read the questions.

But, we don’t want to read any more than this, because for these passages, it’s the questions that’ll tell us what parts of the passages to look at and read. These six passages are fact-based questions, which means we simply need to find the specific answers we’re looking for, instead of reading and understanding every part of the charts and experiments.

Step #3: Spend about 4 minutes on each Data Representation passage, about 5 minutes on each Research Summary passage, and about 6 minutes on the Conflicting Viewpoints passage.

These time limits actually add up to only 33 minutes, and you have 35 minutes on the science test. But, if possible, it’s always good to budget some extra time at the end to check over questions you had to guess on or were unsure about.

The key for the ACT science test is to make sure you manage your time so that you can work on all seven passages. You don’t want to miss any of the easy questions in any of the passages simply because you ran out of time.

Therefore, make sure you stick very close to the time limits above, even if this means you have to make your best guess on a few questions to move on. But, if you do this, circle the numbers of these questions so you can come back to them if you have some extra time at the end. And remember, with the time limits above, you have about 2 minutes of buffer time, so you can spend a little longer on a passage if you really need to. But, don’t use this as an excuse for not finishing on time.

Final Thoughts

So, now you know the basic strategy for approaching the science test. Like with the reading test, the key is to manage your time so you have time to work on all seven passages. You don’t want to run out of time before you get to any passage because there are easy questions in each passage that you simply don’t want to miss. Now that you know this strategy, it’s time to go practice with as many ACT science tests as you can, until doing them becomes second nature. With this strategy and constant practice, you’ll be able to manage time effectively and maximize your score on this test.