ACT Science 1: Data Representation

Welcome to Elite Academy’s online ACT Science course. Over the next 8 lessons, you’ll methodically master all the skills and strategies required to conquer the ACT Science section. Your success on the ACT Science section will depend significantly on your ability to read and interpret a variety of Data Representations, such as graphs, figures and tables. This week's lesson, following a brief overview of the Science Section as a whole, will begin to explore what you'll need to anticipate in order to master Data Representations.

Reflection Time!

Reflection: Challenges

Each Science lesson will begin with hook or prompt that will get us thinking about our engagement and progress with this exam.

Since we're starting out, it's a sensible time to assemble all your assortment of negative feelings: annoyance, confusion, fear, exhaustion, apathy and lay them down to share. 

 

 

Which aspects of the Science section were the most challenging? Why do you think that is?

Warm-up: Positive Vibes

To balance the negativity, which passage, question type, subject focus did you find to be relatively easier, or actually enjoy? Why do you think that is?

Warm-up: Approaches

By the end of this 8 session course, your weakest areas will become strengths. Preparation for the Science section is especially effective as we come to see how repetitive and predictable the patterns and question types actually are. You don’t have to worry much about background knowledge, but will instead learn how to apply your already well-developed logical and graphical skills.

Today’s lesson will focus on providing a basic overview of all the types of passages you’ll encounter. In later lessons, we’ll focus more on specific types and strategies.

Now, though, describe the approach you took to the Science section of your most recent exam.

  1. How did you tackle each passage? 
    2. What worked and didn’t work?
    • Did you digest the information first? 
    • Did you go straight to the questions?
    • Mix it up?

       3. What will you do differently on the next exam?

Overview to ACT Science Section

Test Basics

As you’re likely aware of by now, the ACT is comprised of 4 multiple-choice sections--English, Math, Reading and Science.  There is also an ‘optional’ Writing (essay) section at the end of the test, which you will most likely elect to take.

The Science section is the  and final multiple-choice section, which means you will need to conserve your energy and sustain your focus if you want to excel in the section. Many students say they "struggle" on the Science section not because they don't understand, but because they are mentally exhausted. 

You will have minutes to answer questions, which means you only have 52.5 seconds to find the answer to each question.

Passage Types

Because the ACT is a very standardized test, the three passage types you can expect in the Science section are quite consistent.

For fun, can you match each type with its description? 

  • Data Representation
    you will need to read and interpret data from graphs or tables
  • Research Summary:
    You will need to understand the design and conclusions of scientific experiments
  • Conflicting Viewpoints:
    You will answer questions related to a passage in which conflicting, or otherwise opposed, opinions are presented on the same scientific issue.

Distribution

We will go into much more detail for how to conquer each passage type in later lessons, but for now, here’s the standard breakdown for passage type distribution (you can still expect a bit of variation):

  • True
  • False

You can expect more "Conflicting Viewpoints" questions than any other. 

 

Identify and Extract Information

Data Representation passages will represent scientific data in the form of graphs, figures and tables. There may be experiments found in this section, but those experiments will prove a concept. Other experiments can be found in the Research Summary passages have a different purpose. All such passages will include at least 2 figures but the objective of the Data Representation is to present to you the standard ways data can be presented from a scientific experiment or a specific concept, and ask you to interpret this data. 
In simple terms, we can divide data representation question into two broad categories:

  • A. Identify and extract specified information from a graph or chart  
  • B. Discern patterns or draw reasonable inferences based on data presented 

Although the first category might sound easier, sometimes they can be deceptively challenging, so make sure to pay close attention to details.   

  • .1, .25, .5, .75, and 1
  • .4,.45, .5, .95, and 1
  • .7, .75, .8, .85, and .9
  • .8, .85, .9, .95, and 1.0

Look at the following graph and select the correct answer choice:

In Figure 4, the initial p-values were:

Discern Patterns

 

On Data Representation Questions, you'll also be asked to:

  • A
  • B
  • C
  • D

Select the correct answer choice for the question above. 

 

Research Summary

Research Summary passages will be more focused on a certain area of research and the information to back up that research. It will show an experiment or different trials of an experiment intended to discover something. This differs from the Data Representation section because we can assume that the researchers are actively trying to discover something. Your job when answering the questions will be the analyze the experiment and draw conclusions from it. 
For this passage type, you need to pay attention to the experimental design and the variables involved.  
Knowing the basic principles and components of a true scientific experiment will help you immensely.  
We can generally expect two groups: 

  • Control Group: a group that does not receive the test variable
  • Experimental Group: a group that does receive the test variable

By asking yourself a few basic questions, you can understand the experiment’s intentions, scope, and findings pretty easily: 

  • What is the test variable? (Independent Variable)
  • What’s the element that changes as a result of the test variable? (Dependent Variable)
  • What’s the control group?
  • What’s the difference in results between the control group and the experiment group?

  • A
  • B
  • C
  • D

Select the correct answer choice below for this question.

 

Conflicting Viewpoint Passages

Conflicting Viewpoint passages will almost certainly have the most text.  
Typically, there will be an introduction to a concept followed by several different, somewhat opposed, hypotheses on that concept.  
They will most likely be student opinions and they may not necessarily be correct.  

Ask yourself: 

  • How are the viewpoints essentially different?
  • In what ways, do the viewpoints agree?
  • What is the “pathway” of logic each student uses to reach their own conclusion?

When examining each student or scientist’s viewpoint, you should look to extract two basic elements: 

  • Central Theory—It’s not a 100% rule, but most typically, you can find this statement at the beginning of the first viewpoint and towards the middle of the second
  • Key Data – Distinguish whether this data is used to support the student’s own hypothesis or to diminish the opposing viewpoint

Try to ask yourself the key questions and extract the key elements as you read the two Student’s viewpoints below. 

  • A
  • B
  • C
  • D

Now, try to answer a couple of questions:

Conflicting Viewpoint Passages

Conflicting Viewpoint passages will almost certainly have the most text.  
Typically, there will be an introduction to a concept followed by several different, somewhat opposed, hypotheses on that concept.  
They will most likely be student opinions and they may not necessarily be correct.  

Ask yourself: 

  • How are the viewpoints essentially different?
  • In what ways, do the viewpoints agree?
  • What is the “pathway” of logic each student uses to reach their own conclusion?

When examining each student or scientist’s viewpoint, you should look to extract two basic elements: 

  • Central Theory—It’s not a 100% rule, but most typically, you can find this statement at the beginning of the first viewpoint and towards the middle of the second
  • Key Data – Distinguish whether this data is used to support the student’s own hypothesis or to diminish the opposing viewpoint

Try to ask yourself the key questions and extract the key elements as you read the two Student’s viewpoints below. 

  • A
  • B
  • C
  • D

Here's another:

Background Knowledge

  • You need a lot of background science knowledge to do well on the ACT Science Section
  • We recommend you focus most of your preparation on memorizing Science terms and concepts.

Lesson Complete!

Awesome, awesome work. You clearly know a bit about the Science ACT and how to attack it.

Next, we'll start exploring the world of Data Representation passages specifically. 

If you want to take a break and come back to finish the next lesson later, that's ok!  

 

Data Representations

Sound

 

Click the audio clip below, then close your eyes and open your ears.

Can you identify which animal you hear?

 

Type your guess in the lines below. 

Data Representation Brainstorm

Below, is a possible introduction to a Data Representation passage, in which you will receive a clear, short overview of some focused concept with some key details introduced and emphasized:

Dolphins and whales do not have great eyesight, but for a whale that dives deep into the ocean, it doesn’t really matter because it’s so dark. But how are they able to hunt in the dark ocean? They use echolocation and a specific structure to enhance that echolocation. That structure is called a melon and it is only found in toothed whales (odontocei) like dolphins, sperm whales, beluga whales etc. The whales will make clicking noises that are focused through the “melon” in their head. The sound waves act like a beam and bounce off of any objects. The whale will then receive the waves that have bounced off the object in their jaw.

 

 

The challenge for you, right now: How could we represent this concept of echolocation in figures or tables/graphs? Try to brainstorm at least two kinds of possible representations below and, if you like, actually draw them on a piece of paper.

Don’t worry about getting the data accurate—for now, we’re just trying to think about the different types of representations to anticipate:

Data Representation Example 1

Now that you’ve brainstormed some possible graphical representations to correspond with the introduction, let’s look at some genuine representations of the concept and try to articulate what they actually represent. We’ll go into strategies for how to attack an actual Data Representation question in the next section, but for now simply: 

Scan each figure and try to figure out what it shows—identify the units of measurement and what theoverall point of the graph is

 

For now, you don’t need to do anything more—you shouldn’t really focus on the deep specifics of a representation until you actually encounter a question specifically asking you about it. We want to conserve our thinking and analysis time for questions themselves. 

(A) What does the figure seem to show?

(B) What do the key variables seem to be?

Data Representation Example 2

Here's another one:

(A) What does the figure seem to show?

(B) What do the key variables seem to be?

Data Representation Example 3

Ok, let's look at a table now: 

(A) What does the figure seem to show?

(B) What do the key variables seem to be?

Developing an Approach

Data Representation passages are solely and squarely focused on interpreting various types of representations. Through figures and data points, a concept or trend is illustrated.

Please note that Data Representation passages will never actually test something—their purpose will never be to run an experiment. Instead the data points will directly explain different aspects of a particular concept. 

Looking over your most recent exam, which passages were Data Representation passages?

How did you do on them? 

Step by Step

Through time and practice, you can develop your own consistent, specific strategy for approaching Data Representation. For now, we recommend following Elite's simple yet powerful method. 

Try to put the four steps below in a logical order:
  • Step 1
    Scan the text, gleaning the main concept of the passage and building anticipation for the data representations to come. Make sure you understand any definitions or special variables introduced.
  • Step 2
    Scan each figure for the overall purpose and trends it displays—don’t begin any deep analysis, you’re just trying to gain a basic understanding of what is shown.
  • Step 3
    Read each question, restating it in your own words and making sure to identify the figure the question refers so. If we reduce a question to its basic essentials, it will appear much easier than the complex way the question may be formulated.
  • Step 4
    Answer the question in your own words and try to match this answer with one of your choices. If you don’t see an answer choice related to your initial guess, re-read the question and re-try the calculations or reasoning called for.

Lesson Complete!

Awesome, awesome work. You worked though a number of essential concepts and problems of Data Representation.

Next, you'll perform some problem sets that will reinforce the lesson. 

If you want to take a break and come back to finish the problem sets, that's ok!  

 

Problem Set

Instructions

Each lesson, we will ask you to complete a couple of passages related to the lesson. 

Make sure you're in a comfortable, quiet space, ready to focus.

Passage I: Soil Samples

1.    According to Table 1, Sample 3 was composed primarily of:
 

2.     Based on the data in Table 1, Sample 5 contained:

 

3.   Which soil sample is most likely to have an average mineral particle size of 1.3 millimeters?
 

4.  The students collected a sixth soil sample from a location near the location from which they collected Sample 4. Based on information in the passage, this sixth sample would contain mineral particles that were predominantly:

 

5..    Sample 2 would most likely, if measured, have an average mineral particle size of: 
 

 

 

Passage 2: Mammals + Altitude

jhjk


1.    What is the general relationship between respiratory rate and atmospheric pressure for Mammal 2?
 

2.    At approximately which pressure, in atmospheres, did Mammals 2 and 3 have the same respiratory rate?

 

3.   Further measurements showed that Mammal 4 used sig­nificantly more oxygen per minute than Mammal 2. This would be consistent with the data from the graph if:

 

4.    A higher respiratory rate causes mammals to have a higher metabolic rate. Which of the mammals would have a higher metabolic rate at a pressure of 1.0 atm than at .80 atm?
A.  1 only
B.  2 only
C.  4 only
D.  1 and 4 only

 

18.    Based on the data in the graph, which of the mammals might be native to higher-altitude environments (mean­ing that they are more comfortable at higher altitudes than at lower altitudes)?
F.    1 only
G.   2 only
H.   3 only
J.    4 only
 

 

 

Lesson Complete!

Awesome, awesome to see such effort.

Next, you'll reflect briefly on your past exam. 

If you want to take a break and come back to finish the lesson that's ok!  

 

Test Correction

Self-Correction

Closely examining and analyzing each of your exam performances is one of the simplest, yet most effective ways to improve your ACT score.

Throughout this course, you will be asked, once you receive your test results, to review your wrong answers and understand your mistakes. To make this self-correction stick, we ask you here to type an explanation of your errors for at least 5 problems.

 

If you got less than 5 wrong on the entire exam, then woohoo!, simply analyze those few that you got wrong. 

Following your reflection, we will supply you with a full set of answer explanations, so you can build on your own corrections. 

Reflect on at least (5) mistakes you made on the Science portion of your most recent ACT exam. List the number of the question and then describe your mistake and the evidence that supports the proper solution.

 

Answer Explanations

 

Lesson Complete!!

Awesome, awesome to see such self-reflection.

Let's finish up with a Science Corner and then, Week 1 is complete!

 

Science Corner

Intro

Each Science lesson will close out with a brief exploration of a key science topic or concept that you can expect to see covered on a number of ACT exams. Even though you don't "need" any background knowledge to manage the science section, familiarity and facility with high-frequency topics can only help!

Today, let's look at Photosynthesis!

Photosynthesis Basics

Photosynthesis the process in a plant that converts light into energy the plant can use. 

Above is a simplified representation of the process. 

Here is the chemical equation: 

6 CO2 + 12 H2O + Energy -> C6H12O6 + 6 O2 + 6 H2

Write out this chemical formula again but with the conventional names for the molecules: 

 + 12  + 24  + 12 =

6   + 12 + 6  + 12 + 12  + 6 

Can you see that this formula is balanced?

6 Carbon + 24 oxygen + 24 Hydrogen!  

That means that there is the same number of each element on the left side of the equation as there are on the right side. 

Some key facts and terms: 

  • Pigments in the leaf called chlorophyll a and chlorophyll b take in light.
  • Each pigment is better at taking in a certain wavelength of light, so having two differentkinds of pigments helps the plant take in a wider range of wavelengths.
  • Within the plant cell, there are specialized organelles that have chlorophyll and all theother structures needed to convert light to sugar. These organelles are calledchloroplasts. The prefix chloro- means green.
  • The chloroplast is analogous to mitochondria in animal cells, which are also used tocreate energy using cellular respiration but in a different way.

 

Photosynthesis Video

Now that we've covered the absolute basics of Photosynthesis, why don't you sit back and enjoy a video that delves into the process in a bit more depth and specificity. 

As you're watching, try to take notes on key steps in Photosynthesis and share your takeaways below! 

 

Week 1 Complete

Really inspiring to see you work through the entirety of the first week!

Whenever you're ready, we will move on to Week 2 of the Science course, which will focus on analyzing graphs and discerning trends. Keep up the energy and focus!