Tag Archives: science

The SAT and ACT have never been more alike than they are today, in that both exams challenge reading, writing, and problem solving skills in the same sort of standardized, mostly multiple-choice fashion. However, the two exams differ in both subtle and blatant ways, the most obvious of which is the ACT Science section. Like so many facets of these tests, ACT Science delivers very different challenges than expected. Sure, this section features passages drawn from topics in biology, chemistry, physics, and Earth and space science. However, the questions hardly test content knowledge at all. In fact, test takers don’t face any real disadvantage for not having taken these subjects. So if ACT Science doesn’t test science per se, what skills and strategies does this section really demand? READING SKILLS On our (awesome) Tests and the Rest podcast, Amy Seeley and I enjoyed a very insightful conversation with Michael Cerro…

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ACT Reading subscores have been, at least until this year, useless. Reviewing the old English or Math subscores would at least point out areas of weakness a student could improve on. But ACT used to break down performance on the Reading test based on passage content rather than question type. Knowing you were stronger in, answering questions on say, Arts and Literature than Social Studies and Sciences provided very little in the way of actionable feedback. Today, the maker of what is very much a reading test shows a better understanding of what aspects of reading performance to expand upon: Key Ideas and Details More than half (55-60%) of the 40 Reading questions test a student’s ability to read texts closely to determine central ideas and themes, understand relationships, and draw logical inferences and conclusions. All standardized reading tests challenge the core skills of understanding the purpose of a passage…

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