Let’s say you guess on 5 questions because you are tired and just want the test to be over. You miss all 5, but you actually score a 26 in science. Your composite score for the ACT ends up at a total of 112 subscore points or a composite of a 28. (112 / 4 = 28.0)
Now let’s say you get to go back in time and actually try on the 5 questions that you guessed. If you get all 5 of them correct, what do you think your 26 would be? Your 26 would increase all the way to a 31 or 32. The difference in a 26 and a 32 in science is as few as 5 questions.
Taking this one step further, if you scored a composite of 28.0 and increased your science score 6 points, your composite would increase to a 30. Under these conditions the difference in a 28 and a 30 on the ACT is as few as 5 science questions. How important is the science reasoning section? Huge!
If you have a 26 in English by guessing on 5 questions and missing them, then you retake the 5 questions and get them right, your score would increase from a 26 to a 28. That is just two points in English and six points in science. One main difference is that the English test has 75 questions and the science test has 40. Each question in science has greater value. You can’t afford to give less than your best effort on every question in science. Although it would be ridiculous to guess on the English test, I would rather you guess in English than science. If you wouldn’t guess in English, don’t guess in science. Each section counts 1⁄4 of your composite score.
Let’s assume you are playing a basketball game, and you come out in the first period and get a nice lead. During the second period you start to wear down a little, but you work really hard and maintain the lead. At halftime you get a little break and listen to the famous pep talk by the coach. One of my high school basketball coaches Curt Knox always said, “No one’s going to ask you who was winning at halftime.” He was right. So knowing it is only the final score that counts, you come out and play hard in the third quarter and still maintain your lead. What happens if you get to the fourth quarter and you say, “Man, I’m really tired now; I think I’ll just not try so hard anymore.” You lose. There is no reason to play the first three quarters, if you are going to quit in the fourth quarter.
I didn’t just describe a basketball game, I described the ACT test. The first quarter is English. Most students will try in English because it is the first test, and you are relatively fresh. The second quarter is a long, tiring quarter. It is a 60 minute math test. Many of you will have a tendency to go ahead and quit right here, but press on to halftime. When halftime comes, you will get a 15 minute break. Take advantage of this time. Get out of the testing room. Get a snack. Use the bathroom. And make sure you get back to your seat on time. Don’t be late for the start of the 3rd quarter. When the 3rd quarter begins, you will start the reading comprehension test. A common dilemma in sports is called the “3rd quarter letdown.” This is where you come out of halftime not ready to play. You end up blowing any lead you had and losing all momentum you built in the first half. DON’T HAVE A “3RD QUARTER LETDOWN!” Be ready to play when they say, “Go.” So most of you will grind through the reading test, and then comes the fourth quarter – the science test.
Just like the basketball game, you are tired and ready for this thing to end, but you have to press all the way to the end. Most coaches say the fourth quarter is the most important quarter of any game. The fourth quarter of the ACT is the most important quarter of the test. Yes, science is the most important test you will take. This game is won or lost in the fourth quarter.
This is the easiest section to raise your score. Why? The reason is most of you are guessing on at least one problem in science because you give up. If you try on every question, you will probably raise your score. The other primary reason is you are not staying focused. Be committed to stay focused for the entire 35 minutes of this section.
You must try your best on every question. Remember that if a 6 point increase in science is as few as 5 questions, you must give each question your very best.
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