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ACT Science Reasoning Test: Data Representation Passages

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The ACT Science Reasoning section consists of 7 science passages of three different types of passages: data representation, research summaries, and comparing/conflicting viewpoint. Each of these different types of passages present various styles of questions, with some overlap between the three types of passages. Let us first consider the data representation passages.

The data representation passages, thankfully, tend to be the most straightforward and easily understood on the Science Reasoning Test. Each begins with an introduction, often a diagram, and some data charts. As the data charts are the focus of the questions, it is best to pay special attention to them when reading through the passage. The time spent on reading the introduction should be minimal, but be careful: having a good understanding of the introduction will aid in understanding the data as well as help you understand what the entire passage focuses on. If additional clarification is required, the diagram is a great place to look. As with all passages on the Science Reasoning Test, it is best to highlight, circle, underline, or note key information found when reading through the passage as well as making marginal notes next to different experiments. This will help you when referring back to the passage to answer problem.

There are four different categories of questions: read the chart, use the chart, handle graphs, and take the next step. Each of these types can be approached in different ways.

Read the chart type questions test your ability to understand data presented in the given charts. The answers to these problems are often found directly on the charts.

Use the chart problems are similar: they ask you to use information found in the chart(s) to decipher additional information.

The next type is handle graphs. These questions typically ask you to transform given data into graphical form. For these problems, a basic understanding of linear and exponential functions is required. Simply put, linear functions are straight lines and exponential functions are curved lines with an ever increasing (or decreasing) slope.

Finally, in take the next step questions, you are presented with a goal that can be achieved through experimentation, similar to what is in the passage. The object of these problems is to determine the best way to achieve the goal. Take the next step problems aren’t found as frequently on data representation passages as they are on research summaries, but you should still be prepared to answer them.

This article was written for you by Troy, one of the tutors with TestPrep Academy.

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