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Interpreting Experiments Questions in ACT Science

Posted by Dora Seigel | Jun 20, 2015 1:39:26 PM

ACT Science

 

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Like most ACT Science questions, Interpreting Experiments don’t require you to understand the hard science behind the experiments. Instead, these Interpreting Experiments questions will give one interpretation of part of the passage and ask you whether that interpretation is true or not, using the data from the experiment. These questions have a predictable pattern to the question and answers, which you can use to your advantage.  

In this article, I'll cover the general format of Interpreting Experiments Questions, solve several ACT Science practice questions, and provide ACT Science tips to answer these questions.

 

Format of Interpreting Experiments Questions

These types of questions are usually stated in a variety of ways such as:

  • Is the statement "_______" consistent with Figure 1?
  • A researcher hypothesized that ________. Do the results of study 2 support this hypothesis?

However, answer choices will typically appear in the same format:  

  1. Yes, because of statement A.
  2. Yes, because of statement B.
  3. No, because of statement A.
  4. No, because of statement B.

Most students who miss these kinds of questions jump the gun by deciding quickly on Yes or No before really looking at the data. As I mentioned earlier, answering these questions requires interpreting the data presented in figures and text and deciding whether the data support or contradict the hypothesis. Note: not all questions have answer choices where statements A and B are opposites. In some more difficult Interpreting Science questions, the answer choices may read:

  1. Yes, because of statement A.
  2. Yes, because of statement B.
  3. No, because of statement C.
  4. No, because of statement D.

This is slightly more difficult since you can't rule out answers as easily, but you can solve it with the same strategy - consider whether each statement is true or false. Then, consider whether the true statements support the hypothesis in the question or not. We will attack these higher level interpreting experiments question next:

 

ACT Science Practice Questions

Interpreting Experiments Question #1

 

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Notice how the 4 answer choices each have three parts (they do not fit the standard format). The first part is a Yes or No, answering as to whether the experiments support the hypothesis. The second part is statement A ("as capacitance increased, the time required increased") or B ("as capacitance increased, the time required decreased"). The final part is whether statement A or B was proven by experiment 1 or 2.

The 4 answer choices are created by pairing a Yes or No with either statement A or B plus Experiment 1 or 2. The ACT is counting on you to get confused in your thinking. You might get excited and pick, Yes, but get the second half of the answer wrong. We'll avoid this mistake by breaking down the question into three parts.

First, we're going to figure out whether statement A or B is true. Notice how in this case statement A and B are opposites. A states that time increased, but B states that time decreased. A and B can't both be true at the same time! So our first step is to use the data to figure out whether option A or B is true. Let's check out the corresponding figures: Table 1 corresponds to Experiment 1 and Table 2 corresponds to Experiment 2:

 

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Well, according to Table 2, as capacitance increases, time required to reach a certain voltage across the capacitor increases, so we can eliminate answer choices C and D. By eliminating C and D, we have also eliminated the normal next step in this problem, which is deciding yes or no. We are only left with yes, so the answer must be yes. Which makes sense since the hypothesis sets up a new experiment the same way and finds as capacitance increase time increases, so, yes, it is supported by the experiments since it had the exact same finding.

Now, the only difference between the two remaining answer choices A and B is whether the statement came from experiment 1 or 2. Since the data came from Table 2 and Table 2 represented the data from Experiment 2, B is the answer. By taking this approach, we avoid the most common careless mistake of jumping to pick yes or no without making sure the explanation matches.

 

Interpreting Experiments Question #2

Now, that we’ve tried a more formulaic interpreting experiments question, let’s try one where the answer choice all have different explanations: 

 

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Note: This matches that second type of question we discussed above:

 

  1. Yes, because of statement A.
  2. Yes, because of statement B.
  3. No, because of statement C.
  4. No, because of statement D.

 

The first part of the question is a Yes or No answering whether the data support her claim. Second, is whether statement F, G, H, or J support or do not support her claim. Now, we're going to figure out whether statement F, G, H, or J is true. So, our first step is to use the data in Figure 3 and 4 to figure out whether option F, G, H, or J is true. Let's check out the corresponding figures:

 

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To solve this problem, let’s look at each statement F, G, H, and J individually.

F - the acceleration factor is dependent on enzyme concentration, but not on substrate concentration.

Looking at figure 4 and at the line for Enzyme B (since the hypothesis claim refers to Enzyme B), we see that as enzyme concentration increases so does acceleration factor, until it sort of even outs or increases more slowly. Figure 3 looks similar; looking at the line for Enzyme B (since the hypothesis claim refers to Enzyme B), we see that as substrate concentration increases so does acceleration factor until it sort of even outs or increases more slowly. 

So the acceleration factor for Enzyme B is dependent on both enzyme and substrate concentration. We know F is definitely not the answer.

G - the acceleration factor is not dependent on either enzyme or substrate concentration.

We know this is false from our last finding.

H - the acceleration factor is dependent on enzyme concentration, but not on substrate concentration.

Also, false according to our initial finding.

J - the acceleration factor is dependent on both enzyme and substrate concentration.

This matches our finding, so it is the answer! Let’s review the steps to make sure you have this process down:


Summary of ACT Science Tips for Interpreting Experiments Questions

To solve Interpreting Experiments questions, we need to:

  • Break down the answer choices into Yes/No + Statement A/B(C/D).
  • Decide whether Statement A or B (or C or D) is true. If possible, rule out 2 answer choices.
  • For the statement that is true, decide whether the hypothesis in the question is true or false.
  • Pick the only remaining answer!

 

What’s Next?

I hope you feel ready to interpret any experiment! Check out the other types of questions on the ACT Science section such as factual questions, interpreting trends questions, and experimental design and hypothetical change questions

Looking for overall ACT Science review? Read our complete guide to the section

Taking the ACT really soon? Check out our guide to cramming. 

 

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Dora Seigel
About the Author

As an SAT/ACT tutor, Dora has guided many students to test prep success. She loves watching students succeed and is committed to helping you get there. Dora received a full-tuition merit based scholarship to University of Southern California. She graduated magna cum laude and scored in the 99th percentile on the ACT. She is also passionate about acting, writing, and photography.



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