ACT Science Research Summary Questions

The ACT Science Test is always the fourth test you will take. It has 7 passages and you get 35 minutes to complete them. That is about 5 minutes per passage so moving confidently through this test is essential. It takes practice to gain confidence in interpreting data and understanding the meaning of unfamiliar vocabulary.

Research Summaries involve one or more experiments conducted by a group of students or scientists. Often some type of phenomena will have been observed and the experiments will be set up to investigate how certain factors affect the phenomena. Often a graph, table or figure will accompany the description of the experiments to show the results.

Strategies to Solve Research Summary Questions

Make sure to underline the purpose and method for each experiment as you read. The Purpose tells you why the scientists are conducting the experiment. What are they trying to find out? Look for verbs like “to study…” or “to examine…” in the first explanatory paragraph.

The Method for each experiment will be described in the paragraphs that follow. Make sure to make note of what is similar and what is different between the two experiments if there is more than one. Sometimes the scientists will change one or more factors between the experiments to see if the results change.

Factors, also known as variables, are important elements in these experiments. These are often things like temperature, pH, pressure, time, distance, etc. Depending on the way the variable is being used in each experiment, it can be called either dependent or independent.

Independent variables are those factors that are controlled by the scientists. Did the scientists increase the heat in the experiment? Did they add or remove pressure? If the scientists were the ones controlling the variable, it is independent. Dependent variables are what the scientists observed changing.

To analyze the results, make sure to read all the text provided, including the title of each table. What is in each column? Make sure you understand how the labels in the data correspond to the descriptions in the passage. If there is a graph, read what is on the x-axis and y-axis.