3 Strategies To Approach Data Representation Passages: ACT® Science Exam

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ACT Data representation passages assess your skills with graphics, tables, and charts. Read on to learn how to tackle Data Representation in ACT Science.
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The ACT® Science exam includes seven passages to read and 40 questions to answer. You will have 35 minutes to read and answer the questions. There are three types of passages within this section of the ACT exam: Research Summary passages, Data Representation passages, and Conflicting Viewpoints passages. The following is a breakdown of everything that you need to know about ACT Data Representation passages.

What skills do Data Representation passages and questions evaluate?

The Data Representation section on the ACT Science exam is designed to assess your skills reading graphs, interpreting scatterplots, and interpreting information presented in tables.

What to expect from Data Representation passages

You can expect that three of the seven passages in the ACT Science exam will be Data Representation passages. The passages would be accompanied by graphs, tables, or charts. Five or six questions will follow each passage. 

To answer the questions that follow each passage, you will need to interpret the data and make predictions about trends or patterns that are displayed in the visuals. 

How to spot a Data Representation passage

You can tell that a passage is a Data Interpretation passage if it is presented as a couple of paragraphs that are followed by a visual representation that refers to the information presented in the text. This structure should be recognizable. 

Research Summary passages may focus on more than one experiment, and their passages will focus on the experiment’s methods, design, and results. However, ACT Data Representation passages do not discuss specific experiments. 

How to approach Data Representation passages

If you are inexperienced with scientific writings or visual data representations, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. Here are some tips and strategies to help you tackle Data Representation in the ACT Science exam:

1. Titles, Axis, and Units

Focus on the big details first. This includes understanding what the graph, table, or chart provides you in the title, axis labels, and units of measurement. This information is essential to note, especially if a question requires you to make a conversion in units of measurement. 

For example, a chart may display data in units of inches, and the answer choices may require you to make a conversion to feet. If you fail to recognize the differences between the chart and the answer choices you may be at risk of making a mistake. 

Looking at the titles and the axis labels can also help remove any guesswork from your process. If you are overwhelmed by having to decipher the main idea of the graph or table, try re-evaluating the labels to focus on the more significant details. 

2. Reading the Data

The next step in your approach will require that you read the data presented by the visual. You will need to understand how the visual relates to the information presented in the text. This step is crucial to questions that ask you to make connections between the visual information and the textual information. It is also crucial when drawing conclusions about the data.

Questions that follow ACT Data Representation passages may ask you to assess trends presented in a particular visual. Sometimes this requires you to make predictions or identify relationships between two data points. 

If you come to a question that asks about trends or patterns, look at the answer choices. The process of elimination is helpful, especially if you struggle to determine which pieces of information are important. 

Practice is the key to success with Data Representation in the ACT Science exam. Try out UWorld’s ACT Prep Course to utilize study resources like detailed answer explanations, thousands of sample problems, and performance tracking tools. You can use the answer explanations to learn from your mistakes and deepen your understanding of more complicated questions or concepts. 

These answer explanations also offer step-by-step solutions to questions. The thousands of sample questions are realistic to the style and level of difficulty you will encounter on the official ACT Science exam, so you can be sure that your practice work is accurately preparing you.

The performance tracking tools will help pinpoint your weak performance areas. This way you can focus your study plan on the skills, question types, subsections, and sections you could improve to raise your score. The performance tracking tools can also help improve your speed or even compare your scores to other test takers. Try it out to maximize your scoring potential on the ACT exam!

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