Topics and Questions in ACT Science Test

Questions on the science test can be grouped into the following three general areas:

  1. Interpretation of data
  2. Scientific investigation
  3. Evaluation of models, inferences, and experimental results

Interpretation of Data

Interpretation of data involves the following skills:

  • Select data from a data presentation (for example, a food web diagram, a graph, a table, or a phase diagram)
  • Identify features of a table, graph, or diagram (for example, units of measurement)
  • Find information in text that describes a data presentation
  • Understand scientific terminology
  • Determine how the values of variables change as the value of another variable changes in a data presentation
  • Compare or combine data from one or more data presentations (for example, order or sum data from a table)
  • Translate information into a table, graph, or diagram
  • Perform a interpolation or extrapolation using data in a table or graph (for example, categorize data from a table using a scale from another table)
  • Determine and/or use a mathematical relationship that exists between data
  • Analyze presented information when given new information

Scientific Investigation

Questions that apply to scientific investigation are typically related to experiments and other research. Such questions challenge your ability to do the following:

  • Find information in text that describes an experiment
  • Understand the tools and functions of tools used in an experiment
  • Understand the methods used in an experiment
  • Understand experimental design
  • Identify a control in an experiment
  • Identify similarities and differences between experiments
  • Determine which experiments use a given tool, method, or aspect of design
  • Predict the results of an additional trial or measurement in an experiment
  • Determine the experimental conditions that would produce specified results
  • Determine the hypothesis for an experiment
  • Determine an alternate method for testing a hypothesis
  • Understand precision and accuracy issues
  • Predict the effects of modifying the design or methods of an experiment
  • Determine which additional trial or experiment could be performed to enhance or evaluate experimental results

Evaluation of Models, Inferences, and Experimental Results

Some questions on the science test challenge your ability to evaluate models, inferences, and experimental results. (A model is a description of an object or phenomenon intended to explain and predict its behavior.) To answer such questions, you must be able to do the following:

  • Find basic information in a model
  • Identify implications in a model
  • Determine which models present certain information
  • Determine which hypothesis, prediction, or conclusion is, or is not, consistent with one or more data presentations, models, or pieces of information in text
  • Identify key assumptions in a model
  • Identify similarities and differences between models
  • Determine whether presented information or new information supports or contradicts (or weakens) a hypothesis or conclusion and why
  • Identify the strengths and weaknesses of models
  • Determine which models are supported or weakened by new information
  • Determine which experimental results or models support or contradict a hypothesis, prediction, or conclusion
  • Use new information to make a prediction based on a model