Content Covered by the ACT Science Test

The content of the Science Test includes biology, chemistry, physics, and the Earth/space sciences (for example, geology, astronomy, and meteorology). Advanced knowledge in these subjects is not required, but background knowledge acquired in general, introductory science courses is needed to answer some of the questions. The test emphasizes scientific reasoning skills over recall of scientific content, skill in mathematics, or reading ability.

The scientific information is conveyed in one of three different formats:

  • Data Representation (30-40%). This format presents graphic and tabular material similar to that found in science journals and texts. The questions associated with this format measure skills such as graph reading, interpretation of scatterplots, and interpretation of information presented in tables.
  • Research Summaries (45-55%). This format provides descriptions of one or more related experiments. The questions focus upon the design of experiments and the interpretation of experimental results.
  • Conflicting Viewpoints (15-20%). This format presents expressions of several hypotheses or views that, being based on differing premises or on incomplete data, are inconsistent with one another. The questions focus on the understanding, analysis, and comparison of alternative viewpoints or hypotheses.

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