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May 28, 2013

The ACT Science Section: The Good News!

melissaMelissa has helped several ACT students reach and surpass their goal scores through her thoughtful and tailored teaching of the Nurturing Wisdom ACT lessons. Below she shares an insight into the science section of the ACT:

After working with many students to help them prepare for the ACT, I’ve found that students have a lot of anxiety concerning the science section of the ACT. When students hear the term “science section,” they instantly start recalling all of the science classes they have taken and what they may need to remember: all of the elements of the periodic table (the symbols and atomic numbers), valance electron placement, balancing chemical equations, mitosis v. meiosis, physics formulas… the list could go on and on! As students rack their brains for all of the possible science questions they might be asked, they begin to dread the exam. They may feel that there is no way to succeed, because there is no way to prepare for that many possibilities. If the science section of the ACT were actually a “science” test, they would be right–it would be very difficult to prepare for such a test. However, the good news is that the “science” section of the ACT is not a science test at all–it’s a reasoning test!

Whenever I first explain this to students, they have a hard time believing me. Most will point out that this section does include scientific concepts and is filled with various scientific terms.  Although this is true, I let them in on one of the test makers’ secrets: most, if not all, of the answers to the questions can be found within the passages alone and the passages are very good at using scientific words and complex theories to disguise simple concepts. The key to success on this section is to ignore all of the scientific jargon and actively use the test to take the test.

The science section of the ACT is broken down into three different passage types: graphs, experiments, and scientists. Nurturing Wisdom tutors teach students strategies specific to each passage type. After working with all of my students for a few weeks and teaching them proactive strategies to use while working on this section, they begin to buy into the theory that this is not a science test. They learn how to correctly find answers, draw conclusions and interpret data–regardless of whether or not they understand the scientific concept covered in the passage. They realize it doesn’t matter if they don’t know how to pronounce various terms in the passages (not to mention what those terms mean). Students that work with Nurturing Wisdom build confidence in their ability to successfully complete this section by learning strategies to overcome those tricky concepts and terms, and learn how to not let all the “science” drag down their science score.