Tips To Tackle ACT® Science Research Summaries

An illustration with a book about ACT Science Research Summaries
ACT® Science Research Summary passages focus on specific experiments or theories and often include data graphics. Here are some tips to help you ace this section!
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An illustration with a book about ACT Science Research Summaries
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What To Expect?

The ACT® Science exam lasts a total of 35 minutes and includes seven passages. You will need to read each passage and answer the questions that follow. One of these passages is an ACT Science Research Summary.

What Is a Research Summary Passage in ACT® Science?

You can expect ACT Science Research Summaries to focus on experiments that investigate an event or theory. These passages give details about the experiment and the variables that impact the results of the research. When preparing for ACT Science Research Summary passages, be sure that you have experience with graphs, tables, and charts. 

Here are some tips to help you tackle this section efficiently:

1. Strategize your reading

One tip for reading ACT Science Research Summary passages is understanding the “big picture” points before attempting the questions. If you are not particularly savvy with scientific writing styles, don’t assume that the passage is outside of your skillset. These passages depend more heavily on your comprehension skills than your science knowledge. 

Read everything and take notes because detail is the name of the game with this section. Even if you don’t fully understand every piece of information in the passage, by reading everything, you can know where to look when a question concerning the specific details comes up. 

You can also benefit from underlining key information. Sometimes, ACT Science Research Summary passages provide information about two different experiments. For these passages, pay attention to variations in methodology, purpose, and variables.

2. Evaluate the variables

Some things that are important to underline are the variables. Pay attention to and underline the independent variables (the factors put in place by the researchers) and dependent variables (the factors that are impacted and examined).

3. Why is the experiment occurring?

Something that is helpful to pinpoint is the purpose of the experiment. This will likely be explicitly stated in the first paragraph of the passage. Finding out what the researchers are studying and examining will help you understand what the experiment is about and keep you invested in reading the passage.

4. What is the method of research?

Another key piece of information to note is the method of research being used. This should also be clearly stated in the introduction of the passage.

It is important to remember that the questions that follow the ACT science research summary passages are based on the information in the text. If you are worried about your science skills, consider how improving your close reading skills and note-taking can benefit your performance. 

As you prepare for the Science portion of the ACT exam, consider tracking these details in Research Summary passages. You can use UWorld’s ACT Prep Course to see how these tips work for you by trying out a practice test.

UWorld’s ACT Prep Course helps you with detailed feedback, explanations, and study plans. You can use this information to streamline your study approach. By focusing on your weak performance areas, you are sure to see an improvement in your scores. Find out in which questions, sections, and subsections of the ACT exam you can improve by using UWorld’s ACT Prep Course. Try it out today!

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