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Improving ACT score - Especially in Reading and Science

tkr116tkr116 Posts: 50Registered User Junior Member
edited June 2012 in ACT Preparation
My highest ACT so far is a 31 and I'd like to improve it to at least 33. My only real downfalls seem to be reading and science. I do well (33s and 34s) on Math and English, but I am horrible at reading comprehension and science is a bit of a struggle. First of all, does anyone have any advice for getting those few tricky questions for English and Math that could make my sub scores for those two near perfect? Second, any tips for improving reading and science? Practice tests, read more, prep books (I have Barrons 36 and Real ACT)? Thanks for any comments or advice!
Post edited by tkr116 on

Replies to: Improving ACT score - Especially in Reading and Science

  • SkalyanSkalyan Posts: 35Registered User Junior Member
    Just do more and more practice tests...eventually you'll fly through the test.

    Barron's 36 helps me in the trig department for math as well as the grammar rules in English.

    If you really think about it, the reading and science tests are the same thing. The answers are right there in the passage or graph and require very minimal inferring. Reading just presents the material in a more written, prose fashion, while science presents the material in graphs and charts (except for the debating viewpoints).

    Reading: Read the passage first then answer questions. As you look at the choices, predict the answer and then look back at the passage very quickly to check if your prediction was right.

    Science: Just refer to the needed chart/graph/information when necessary.

    Good luck!!
  • tkr116tkr116 Posts: 50Registered User Junior Member
    Thank you so much for the advice! Now that you mention it, the reading and science sections are very similar (which is probably why I do bad on both! hahaha). I think my main weakness is time on both those sections, but I suppose doing more practice tests would help improve my quickness and timing.
  • SkalyanSkalyan Posts: 35Registered User Junior Member
    Always time yourself on practice tests. At first take all the time you need, then slowly improve. In both the science and reading section you can not afford to second guess yourself. Pick the best answer and move on. Mark those questions that you feel you should go back to. Doing this I usually have a good 3-4 minutes on the reading left over and 9-10 minutes on the science. In that time left over, go back to the marked questions. It's an awesome feeling too when you realize you have 10 minutes to answer just 5 questions. At this point you can pretty much relax and take it easy with those 5 questions and really think into them and/or look for the answer in the passage.

    A very important thing you should also do in the science section is when you see a chart and something is abbreviated or a symbol, find our what that abbreviation or symbol stands for.

    In both reading and science, timing is key.
  • tkr116tkr116 Posts: 50Registered User Junior Member
    All right that sounds like some awesome advice. For the reading, do you read the passage first, and if so, about how long, or do you go straight to the questions? Any advice for the different types (fiction vs humanities vs. arts vs natural science)? For the science, do you even bother with reading the intro paragraphs or do you go straight to the passages? Because 9-10 min left over is a TON of time. And one more thing: how do you get past the science jargon they say all the time? I know what it is sort of saying, but the words and phrases just go right over my head. Thanks again!
  • SkalyanSkalyan Posts: 35Registered User Junior Member

    Yes, for reading, read the passage first. Annotate on the side if you want; Although, I find this a waste of time for me, but for some people it actually works. Try both methods out on a practice test and see which one you prefer.

    You should spend a maximum of 4 minutes reading, not skimming, the passage. After reading the passage, answer the questions using the method in my earlier post (predicting before answering), and you should be able to answer the question in no more than 10 seconds. Don't sweat it if it goes to 15 or 20 seconds as there will be questions that are extremely easy or reference a line and those will be answerable in less than 5 seconds.

    For the different types of passages, I'm a science guy so I prefer to do natural science, social science (arts), humanities, and prose fiction in that order. This all depends on personal interests.


    What I do is I read the first line of the intro just to know what the passage is about.

    Example: (Taken from Princeton Review's Cracking the ACT 2012)

    "Sodium chloride is used to de-ice road and sidewalks during the winter."

    After I read this I realize that this passage is going to talk about salt and de-icing roads and I read no further into the intro except when I see an italicized word. You can almost bet that one question will involve that italicized words and you'll need to know what that italicized word means (the definition should be given in the same sentence as the word itself). After reading the main idea of the passage go straight to the questions not even eyeing the graph.

    Since the ACT tests science reasoning, not science knowledge, jargon should not be too much of a hassle. Even when a science word is given, the definition is almost always stated. Granted you will have to know the basic things like (as an example) freezing point, boiling point, etc.

    If the words go over your head, don't worry cause all your pretty much doing is finding where 2 values intersect and the value of that intersection. you will have to know trends (positive, negative, vertical, horizontal, and none). You will also have to be able to predict the next possible value based on these trends.
  • tkr116tkr116 Posts: 50Registered User Junior Member
    Wow, thanks so much for the in depth tips. I really appreciate it. I'm going to go do some practice tests and see how much I improve using your advice.
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