SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips

ACT Science Practice Tests: What to Use and What to Avoid

Posted by Dora Seigel | Jun 17, 2015 8:30:00 AM

ACT Science



Whichever way you choose to prepare for ACT Science - whether with a private tutor, class, online program or on your own - you need to make sure you are using official ACT Science tests. Because ACT Science is so unique, any old Science study material will not do it. To learn about how different ACT Science is from any other science test, read the big secret of ACT Science.     

In this guide, I'll tell you where to find all of the official ACT Science practice tests available: Several are free! Also, I'll provide tips on how to use these ACT Science practice tests improve your score. Additionally, I'll talk about some of the “ACT Science” practice materials you should avoid and why you should not use them. I draw my conclusions from my years of experience tutoring students for ACT Science and from my own practice for the ACT Science test. 


Free Full-Length ACT Science Practice Tests

These real ACT Science practice tests are FREE. All of these tests are provided by the ACT makers themselves. I've listed all of them here in one place for your convenience.

This test format can be a little difficult to use, but it's free and online. Click on each passage on the left, and click the answer choice to see the answer response. To keep the timing realistic (35 minutes total or 5 minutes per passage), I recommend that you work on the answers on paper, and then check your answers one by one in your web browser AFTER you have finished the entire test.


Notice a few years missing? That's because the ACT duplicates the same test in different years. For example, the 2013-14 test is identical to the 2014-15 test. I've included the Form ID with each test so that you can confirm it for yourself (you can see this in the bottom left of each page on the test).


Purchase ACT Science Practice Tests

The Real ACT 3rd Edition 

The book was produced by the makers of the ACT and has 5 full ACT practice tests. Costing about $20 (less right now on Amazon), this book is the best book for realistic practice tests. Also, it is the best bang for your buck (other than free tests), as you end up paying a little less than $4 per ACT practice test. 

Don't even look at Kaplan or Princeton Review for practice tests - their quality is far inferior to the tests put out by the ACT.

ACT Online Program

Costing $25, this online program includes 2 extra full ACT practice tests. The online prep material is not good - just buy this for the tests, if you need it. Next, I will tell you how to put all of this ACT Science study material to the best use.


How to Use the Real Guides

In this portion, I'll be summarizing our guide to the best way to study and practice for ACT Science. I highly recommend you read that article for more in-depth information. When using your real ACT Science practice tests, make sure to keep the following instructions in mind.


#1: Take the test in one sitting. Come on! The ACT Science section is only 35 minutes. You need to set aside that time to sit for the ACT Science, and you should take a minimum of 5 full ACT Science practice tests. Because the ACT Science section is so rushed (52.5 seconds per question), the first few practice tests you take will just be helping you adjust to the pace. My scores on my first 2-3 ACT Science practice tests were 5 points lower than my final score because I needed to adjust to the speed and strategy. You need the extra 2-3 tests to solidify your pace and understanding of the strategy.

While sitting for the 35-minute section is good practice, it is even better, if you can find the time, to take the entire ACT test all at once. The ACT is a 4 hour-long marathon, and you will need to practice to build up endurance. Science is the last section of the test! Practicing taking the whole test will better prepare you for the Science section because it will show you what it takes to power through. Sitting for one 35-minute section, without experiencing the 3.5 hours before it, is not as helpful to your practice and improvement. I recommend sitting for at least 2 full-length practice tests (4 hours each) before you take your official test. 


#2: If you find yourself struggling to finish the ACT Science in 35 minutes, try to watch your pace on each passage and keep yourself to a strict 5 minute per passage pace. Learn more about this and other ACT Science strategies in our guide to time management and section strategy for ACT Science




#3: After finishing an ACT Science practice test, REVIEW your answers. This is the most important part of your process. Review every mistake you made and every question that you guessed on but got right. If you do not review your mistakes, you will not improve; spend at least 15-20 minutes reviewing your ACT Science practice test. Read our guide to the best way to study for ACT Science and the reasons you miss ACT Science questions for help with your review process. I’d rather you take fewer ACT Science Practice tests and spend more time reviewing. Again, without review, you will not improve. For more information on exactly how to review your answers, read the best way to study and practice for ACT Science.


#4: Supplement your ACT Science practice test with a prep program if you don’t see improvement. While some people will see vast improvement simply from reviewing their mistakes and practicing the test format, others need more guidance on strategy and need skill specific strategy to improve on their weak points. Check out PrepScholar’s program; we do just that. We figure out your strengths and weaknesses and target materials to help you work on your weaknesses to improve your score.  


ACT Science Practice Materials You Should AVOID and Why

#1: Varsity Tutors - Free ACT Science Practice Tests

The material provided to answer questions is much shorter than actual ACT Science Passages. They provide few visuals, and those they do provide are hard to read. Rather than setting up proper tables, they just try to align the material into vague columns and rows. This seems ridiculous when the MAJORITY of the ACT Science questions ask you to read visuals for information. The timing does not match the ACT Science test timing (35 minutes total/5 minutes per passage) at all. This material is a waste of your time; do not bother with it.




#2: ACT Example Practice Tests Website - Free

This material provided is not even set up as passages. The questions are just asked at random with random tables thrown in on occasion. This material is nothing like real ACT Science tests, so AVOID it like the plague.


#3: McGraw-Hill Free Online Practice and McGraw-Hill 's 10 ACT Practice Tests, Second Edition 

I am reviewing both together because they are from the same company and have the same issues. The tests mimic the format of the ACT Science test really well. The tests set up 7 passages just like the real test, and each passage has the appropriate number of questions.

HOWEVER, the questions are very different. On the actual ACT Science test, you should be able to answer most questions using the visuals alone. Read more about this strategy in our other article on the 3 types of ACT Science passages. On McGraw-Hill’s tests, you need to use the entire passage to answer most questions. Also, the visuals are not as difficult as the visuals on the actual ACT Science test. Avoid this material because, while it may seem like the ACT Science test, looks can be deceiving and waste your time.   


What’s Next?

In order to get the most out of your ACT Science practice tests, learn the best way to study and practice for ACT Science and the 9 reasons you miss ACT Science questions

Also, for more background on the ACT Science test and strategies, read about the 3 types of ACT Science passages and the big secret of ACT Science


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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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