ACT Science Prep is critical to do well on the ACT Test. Watch this video to learn more and find an ACT Science Tutor if you need help.
ACT Science Prep [Video Transcript]
A bar graph is a common way to present information in a visual format. So in a bar graph, you have a Y-axis which is this line, right here, the vertical line is the Y-axis. And the X-axis is this line right here, the horizontal axis. So a bar graph shows that the relationship between X-axis and the Y-axis.
So here, we are looking at basketball players and their heights. So here we have the players and here we have their heights on the left, in feet. So to make this graph complete, so that we can start graphing the heights of these players, we first need to label the Y- and X-axis. So over here, we have Height in feet. Because we have these units labeled right here, this could be meters, centimeters, but in this case it’s feet, height in feet. Then over here, we have players. Even though that’s pretty obvious, we still need to label each axis. So right here, this is the name of the X-axis, the players, and then we get more specific when we get close to the X-axis, same thing here. Vertically, we have height in feet, and then we go over here and we have specifically for different heights.
So now, we need a name for this graph. And a great thing about titling the name for a graph is that a reader can quickly look at a graph and determine its content. So here we are going to name this Players’ Heights, because what we have here is a representation of the heights of the different players.
So finally, we need to take the information we have right here and put it in this graph. Because although, we have the heights and the different Players, we want to put it into a graph format because that provide a visual way for someone to understand this information.
So for Player A, we see that that person is seven feet tall. So, we are going to go over to Player A and then we are going to go up to seven feet. We are going to draw a line right there and come down like this. And this is why it’s called a bar graph, because it’s a bar. Now B is 6.7 feet. So go over to Player B and we notice that 6.7 isn’t actually labeled anywhere on here. But so we are just going to it guess that 6.7 is about right there, a little bit higher than 6.5, and again we are going to draw a bar. And Player C is 5.9 feet. Again, that’s not specifically on here but we are going to go just below the six-foot mark, come down, have our third bar. Then our fourth and final Player, Player D is 6.3 feet. So we’re going to go a little over halfway between 6 and 6.5 and get right there.
Now you may be familiar with a line graph, where there’s plots and points like this, and there’s lines connecting the dots, it looks like that. Well that shows overtime how something rises or changes or remains constant. Here, we are not looking at really how something is progressing over time. We are just looking at each player and their height. It also provides a great way to compare the different players’ heights. Because right here, you’re kind of wondering, okay, how do these player’s heights relate to each other. Well, right here, you can kind of visualize, each bar right here and how much taller the players are than each other. So you can realize the difference between Player B and Player D is smaller than the difference between Player A and Player C. And although, you may be thinking, oh that’s obvious from the information right here, it’s much easier to visualize right here in a bar graph.
The Science Research Summaries
When you are evaluating a research summary, pay special attention to the results of the experiment, because the results of an experiment assert whether or not the hypothesis has been confirmed.
Now you start off asking a question. And then from that question, you form a hypothesis. And then you come up with an experiment to test that hypothesis. So the whole point of conducting an experiment is to find out if you can confirm the hypothesis. So that’s why that’s so important, and so you are going to find out that information in the results of an experiment.
Now after giving the data from the experiment, the scientist may offer some speculative reasons for the results of the experiment. And so you as a reader need to look out for two things. First thing you need to look out for is obvious flaws. You need to be looking out for obvious flaws in the experiment because if the experiment has obvious flaws, then you cannot trust that the hypothesis has been confirmed or not confirmed. And then you also want to look out for extra external influences. In order to be effective, a scientific experiment should isolate the problem with which it is concerned and so it should eliminate any extra external influences. So if those are there, then it’s just confusing the whole process of analysis. And so you should be looking out for obvious flaws and extra external influences.
ACT Science Conflicting Viewpoints
When studying conflicting viewpoints, you should identify two things, the first being the basic disagreement which is taking place; and the second thing you should identify is the basic question they are seeking the answer. In order to assess the rival claims made by scientists, you must understand the specific points on which they differ. Now in order to understand the specific points on which they differ, you must understand the basic questions they are seeking to answer.
Now, it may be that the rival claims made by the scientists are non- fact conflicting but are simply two differing approaches to solving the same problem. So that’s why it’s important that you investigate the conflict here by understanding the basic disagreement, but also understanding the basic question each scientist is seeking to answer, and by that, understanding the specific points on which they differ.
ACT Science Research Summaries
An experimental science project has four basic steps. So you start out with making observations, because you have a question you want to answer. So say for example, our question is, does magnetism affect the growth of plants? And so you ask a question, and then you want to try to come up with an idea what the answer to that question is. And so, you make observations on the growth of plants and what you know about magnets affecting other things. And then you form a hypothesis, which earlier I was asking a question which led to observations. But a hypothesis is a statement, not a question. So I might say, “Magnets have no effect on the growth of plants.” And that would be a hypothesis, that’s a statement. And a hypothesis can either be confirmed or not confirmed.
And so from there, that leads you to your controlled experiment. And so you come up with an experiment to test your hypothesis. So what I might do here is I would take some sunflower seeds and put them in a pot with some dirt, and I would put some magnets in the dirt with those seeds. Now this needs to be a controlled experiment, which means that we have a control. And so if you are familiar with that, that would just be taking another pot, putting dirt in there, and putting sunflower seeds in there, but this time, not putting any magnets. And so with the control, you are just differing from the experiment by one variable. And so we have two pots and they are just differing by one variable. One has magnets, one doesn’t have magnets, because we have to compare the sunflowers that are affected by magnets with the sunflowers that don’t have any magnets around them. Otherwise, we don’t know, if there’s a difference.
And after we conduct the experiment, we form a conclusion. So to form the conclusion, we have to decide if the hypothesis is confirmed or not confirmed. So notice that I said “not confirmed,” not “disproved.” So you confirm or do not confirm a hypothesis instead of proving or disproving it, because you never want to disprove something because there is always a chance that more information can come out that would confirm your hypothesis. And so instead of saying that something is totally disproved and totally implausible, you can just say that it’s not confirmed. In other words, we can’t confirm it, but we don’t know for sure that it’s not true.
And so then, you form your conclusion from whether you confirmed or did not confirm the hypothesis, and so your conclusion is now fact because you’ve backed it up by experimental data. Now of course, an experiment can always be fallible and many popular beliefs once proved by experiments have been now overturned by other experiments. But still, when you have a conclusion, you are accepting that as fact, because you have backed it up with data. So those are the four basic steps of an experimental science project.
ACT Science Data Representation
I want to take a look at what some scientific terms mean. So we are going to take a look at fact, conclusion, cause and effect model, and scientific law.
So starting off, a fact is knowledge or information based on real occurrences. And so you can probably already formulate a definition for fact. Now when we come to conclusion, it’s a little bit different than what you might be thinking. It’s the result or outcome of an act or process. So in science, we say conclusion is when one thing happens is what occurs because of that first thing that happened. And so that leads us to the next term which is cause and effect, which states that every occurrence is connected in a specific way to a proceeding event. So if one thing happens, it’s because something else just happened.
For example, if you see a tennis ball rolling down a driveway, you can infer that something happened that made that tennis ball start rolling. It could have been somebody throwing it or it could have been the wind blowing it down the driveway. And so just like with the conclusion is the result outcome of an act or process, the reason, you have a conclusion basically is because of cause and effect. You have a cause and then the effect is the same thing as the conclusion.
Then we have something called a model which is a schematic description of a system, theory, or phenomena that accounts for its known or invert properties and may be useful for further study of its characteristics. So basically, this is a diagram, some type of model that explains something that’s happening in science that takes into account what we know about it, and then it can be used to further study its characteristics, because it takes everything we know about it and it puts it into some kind of diagram that makes it easier to understand.
And then we have scientific law which is a statement of fact meant to explain an action or set of actions. And so it is generally accepted to be true and universal, and they can sometimes be expressed in terms of a single mathematical equation. And so scientific laws are accepted at face value based upon the fact that they have always been observed to be true. Now some scientific laws are laws of nature, include the law of gravity, the law of thermodynamics, and Hooke’s law of elasticity. And so again, a scientific law is a statement are facts. So this is something that has been proven to be true, and since it’s always been observed to be true, it’s accepted at face value.
ACT Science Data Representation
A hypothesis is a tentative explanation for an observation, phenomenon, or scientific problem. They can be tested by further investigation. So notice, I said, it’s a tentative explanation. And that’s because hypotheses are not supported by substantial evidence. Now the stronger the proof of the hypothesis, the greater its accuracy, because you have to be able to… for something to be a hypothesis, you have to be able to test it by further investigation. So the more proof you have for this hypothesis, the greater the chance that it can be proven by further investigation. So an example of a hypothesis is if condition A exists, then behavior B will happen. So it’s an if-then statement. If this happens, then this will happen.
Now hypotheses are either confirmed or not confirmed. So they are confirmed or not confirmed rather than being proven or disproven, because there is a difference. So you can confirm the hypothesis which is pretty much the same thing as proving something, or you can say that the hypothesis is not confirmed. Well, saying that something is not confirmed and saying something that is disproved is different, because if you say something is disproved, you say there is absolutely no way it can happen. When you say something is not confirmed, you are saying that it could still happen, you are just not able to prove that it can happen yet, because it is always possible that new evidence will be discovered that could possibly support the hypothesis.
And so what you may be gathering from this is that a hypothesis is basically an educated guess. You have an observation, a phenomenon or s scientific problem that you are trying to explain. So based on what you know, you form a tentative explanation that can then later be tested by further investigation.
Now, there are something called a null hypothesis, which is a testable hypothesis that is often formulated on the basis of the simplest set of assumptions. So it’s based upon something that is very simple. They can again be tested to be proven or disproven.
ACT Science Research Summaries
When you begin working on a research summary, you should play special attention to identify the problem of the experiment and the experimental design. So the problem of the experiment is the question that the scientists are seeking to answer. And so in order to conduct an experiment, you have to be trying to answer a question. And so another way to say the question is just a problem, because the problem here is we are trying to answer this question. And so the nature or the characteristics of this problem should provide the structure and the shape of the entire experiment.
So it provides structure and shape for the experiment. And so based off of the question you are trying to answer, you come up with an experiment to find the answer to that question. And so that’s where experimental design comes in. It’s the specific actions and experiments that the scientists performed in order to solve the problem. So you come up with the question, you come up with a way to answer that question.
Now in order to understand the results of the research, you need to understand the rationale for the experiments that have been performed. That’s why it’s essential that you are able to identify both the problem of the experiment and the experimental design in a research summary.
ACT Science Research Summaries
When you are evaluating a research summary, you should take special care to identify the experimental control, which is the standard against which the results of the experiment are measured. In other words, it’s the measure of what happens when the independent variable is not manipulated.
So in an experiment, you have an independent and a dependent variable. So this is a cause and effect relationship. You manipulate the independent variable and then you observe what happens to the dependent variable because of what you did to the independent variable. And so what happens with the control is you’re changing the independent variable at all, because if you conducted an experiment without a control, you would not be able to determine anything from the experiment. You would be able to see what happened as a result of what you did, but you wouldn’t have anything to compare it to. So the control is there it give you something to compare it to.
So an example is a scientist who wants to determine what would happen to a mouse who is fed a special diet. So the control here would be the mouse receiving a normal diet. So here, the independent variable is going to be the diet. And the dependent variable is going to be whatever happened to the mouse, probably behavior or looks or appearance. And so you are playing around with the independent variable of the diet. And so say you give it a strange diet, and then the mouse acts a certain way. You don’t know if that’s normal or abnormal. So that’s why you have a control which is the mouse receiving a normal diet. So you can compare the mouse receiving the special diet to the mouse receiving a normal diet. And in order for the results of an experiment to be meaningful, there must be a clear and reasonable experimental control. That’s why it’s so important, like in this experiment, to have a mouse receiving a normal diet.
ACT Science Conflicting Viewpoints
As you study chart, be sure to note the units that are being used. That’s extremely important in science, because the unit of measure means everything. If you forget to note the units that are being used, then your answer can mean something entirely different, because depending on the units, a very large number may express a large quantity or a very small quantity. In fact, you may want to spend a little bit of time learning which of units measure apply to which physical characteristics, so that you will immediately know what is being measured when you look at a table of data.
For example, you should know that if you see this symbol right here, it stands for kilogram which means we must be measuring mass. Or if you see a capital L, you should know that it stands for liter which means we are measuring volume.
In addition to having a good understanding of units, you should also practice identifying trends and patterns in various charts and tables. By studying a bar chart, for instance, you should be able to note the trend and the quantity of a given variable over time. So right here, we don’t know exactly what we’re measuring but that’s not important. You should be able to look at this bar graph and see a trend here. And after looking at it for a couple of moments, you should be able to notice that every other year, the quantity rises.
See here, in 1993, the quantity rose from the previous year, then it remained the same next year, and then the next year, it rose in 1995, and then again, two years later, it rose again. We go two years down the road once more, and we find that the quantity rises again. So that’s a trend here in this bar graph. So you should be very good at looking at different types of graphs and immediately noticing trends.
ACT Science Research Summaries
When you are evaluating a research summary, you should take special care to identify the variables in the experiment. The variables in the basic experiment can be either independent or dependent. So let’s start with independent variables. So the independent variable in an experiment is the aspect of the experiment that is changed by the scientist on purpose. And then you have the dependent variables. So the dependent variable in an experiment is the aspect that responds to changes that are made in the independent variable. So we have cause and effect here. Independent causes the dependent variable to change, and so the independent variable is manipulated by scientists on purpose so that we can see the effect of it on the dependent variable. And so while the independent variable is manipulated, the dependent variable is just observed to see the changes that take place in it.
Now, it’s important to be able to identify the independent and dependent variables in an experiment. So let’s take a look at this example — an experiment exploring how plastic reacts to different amounts of heat. So here, we are taking a look at plastic and its response to heat. So the independent variable here is going to be temperature, because we are looking at cause and effect here and we are looking at how plastic responds to heat, and so the temperature here must be the independent variable, because that’s what we are changing around to see how plastic responds. So that leads us to the dependent variable which is going to be the plastic, because we are seeing or observing how the plastic reacts to the differing amounts of heat.
So again, the independent variable is the aspect of the experiment that is changed. And the dependent variable is the aspect that responds to the changes made in the independent variable.
ACT Science Research Summaries
As you read information about an experiment or experiments, realize that you are going to be asked questions about any differences that occur between experiments or scientists. So as you are reviewing this information, realize that anything odd is likely to be asked about. So be on the lookout for anything odd. And then also be on the lookout for any changes, because these are the types of things that there’s going to be questions about. So make sure that as you review this information, you are on the lookout for anything odd and you are on the lookout for changes.
So if one of the experiments deals with the duration of lifetimes for various materials, make sure that you take note of the ones that are extremely short or extremely long. And so since those things would be odd, because they are extremely short or extremely long, you know that you need to be taking special note of those. So circle them in your answer booklet and be ready to go back and identify them in later questions.
ACT Science Research Summaries
As you go over the experiments, make sure you have a level of understanding of what each one was about. As you review the experiments, the main goals are to get a general understanding of what they were about and notice the key variables that were changed. So by getting a general understanding of what went on and understanding which variables were changed, it will allow you to save time in answering the questions, because you’ll be quickly able to go to the right experiment depending on what you need to find out.
So if you’re looking at three experiments during the test, first, you want to read these experiments and get a general understanding and you need to understand which key variables were changed. You might either want to make a note of that. Like in experiment one, temperature was changed. In experiment two, pressure was changed. And then in the third experiment, volume was changed. And so now you have a general understanding of what each experiment is about. You know which key variables were changed. And so then when you have a question about one of the experiments, you immediately know where to go to find the right answer.
ACT Science Research Summaries
When conducting scientific experiments, observations are made through our senses. So if you’re conducting a scientific experiment, you notice or observe what’s going on through your senses. Now this is usually going to be with your sense of sight, but depending on the experiment, you may be able to incorporate your other senses. So that’s what it means to observe during a scientific experiment. It means to notice what’s going on through your senses.
But more specifically, we can define observation as the act of noting and recording something. So this has to do with both the act of noting what’s going on and then recording what happened, because it’s important for a scientist to record what goes on during the experiment, so the experiment doesn’t have to be conducted over and over and over again. And so to use this definition of observation, we could say the scientist is observing what’s going on in the experiment. So the scientist is noticing what’s going on through his or her senses and then the scientist is recording what happened.
Now the second definition of observation is the result or record of such notation. So we don’t use this definition of observation while the experiment is taking place. We would use this definition of observation as in let’s take a look at the observations the scientist made. So this is what happens after the experiment is finished and people go back and look at the observations made by the scientist. So this is more of a noun, the observations were made by the scientist.
So again, one definition is the act of noting and recording something, and then the second definition is the results or record of such notation.
ACT Science Conflicting Viewpoints
In order to effectively consider conflicting viewpoints, you need to be able to identify two things — The positions of each side of the argument and the supporting evidence for each side of the argument. So you need to understand where each side stands and you need to understand if there is any credibility for both of the positions. In other words, understand if they have any information to back themselves up, to back their positions up.
Now scientific dispute is a matter of fact, not opinion. So although, you may feel personally more sympathetic to one side of the argument, your duty as a reader is to objectively assess the data and reasoning offered by each side. Now each viewpoint here is trying to become a scientific claim, because we have two differing viewpoints here, and so you are trying to determine which one is more credible. And so a scientific claim requires clear evidence and experimental verification before it can be accepted as fact. So when you’re comparing these two viewpoints here, see which one comes out on top. You are looking for the one that has clear evidence in support of it and has experimental verification to back it up.
The percent yield can raise the difference between actual yield and the theoretical yield. Basically, the percent yield is the ratio between that actual amount of product obtained and the theoretical amount of product predicted. Because in any chemical reaction under ideal circumstances, you are going to have one result, so that’s what we call the theoretical amount. Under perfect ideal circumstances this is the amount of product that would be obtained. Now, we’re not operating under ideal circumstances, so we have the actual amount a product obtained. And so we can predict the theoretical amount of product predicted, but that doesn’t mean we are going to get that. We’re actually going to get the actual amount of product obtained. So that’s why we have these two different terms there.
And so percent yield is a way of making the ratio of comparing the difference between those two numbers. So the equation to find the percent of yield is percent yield equals actual yield divided by theoretical yield times 100. And it makes sense this theoretical yield is in the denominator of this fraction, because theoretical yield is going to be higher than actual yield.
Now percent yield has no units. However actual yield and theoretical yield can have the units of grams, liters, or moles. The important thing is that actual yield and theoretical yield have the same units. So although percent yield doesn’t have a unit, you need to be comparing apples to apples here and have the same units between actual yield and theoretical yield.
So there are three tips that I want to share with you on how to calculate percent yield. So the first is note what you are given. So you want to take into account the amounts of reactants and product. And then second, you are going to calculate the theoretical yield. You are going to calculate the theoretical yield using stoichiometric methods and make sure that the theoretical yield and actual yield have the same units. Then finally from here, you are going to calculate the percent yield. And again, the way you calculate the percent yield is through this equation right here. So just remember that percent yield conveys the difference between the actual yield and the theoretical yield.
When a reader is required to draw conclusions from the information presenting graphs, tables, charts or diagrams, it is important to limit this conclusions to the terms of the graphic itself. In other words, the reader should avoid extrapolating from the data to make claims that are not supportable. So consider this graph as an example. It compares the price of bread to the demand for bread. So notice here, as demand rises, price also rises, because over here, you see price is very high while demand is also very high. Well, notice here, when demand is low, price is also very low. So we know here that price and demand relate to each other in some way.
We can’t look at this graph and say, “Oh, it’s just coincidence that price and demand rise and fall together.” Now we know there are some relations between price and demand here. But that’s all we can tell from this diagram. So we can’t look at this graph and say, “Oh, when price rises, it causes demand to rise.” We can’t say that because it maybe demand rising that causes the price to rise, or it could be some other variables and factors that are not included in this graph that play an important role in determining demand and price.
So an important thing is when someone analyzes a graph that they don’t read too far into that graphic organizer or the diagram, graph, pie chart, whatever that graphic organizer may be. It’s important that the reader just take that graph at face value and only draw conclusions that are supported by the graph.
A line graph is a type of visual illustration. It helps show trends over time. So consider this graph right here. So we have income over here, and the months of year over here. So what we call this right here is the X-axis. This is the independent variable. This is what the constructor of this graph decided to place right here. They decided to put January, February, March, April, May, June. So this right here is called the Y-axis. What’s vertical is the Y-axis, and this is income level for each month. Now, this is called the dependent variable, because although the construct of the graph wrote these numbers right here, when we start plotting points, the constructor of this graph didn’t get to choose what the income level was going to be. They got to decide which months they want to have on here, but the income level is decided by what already happens. So they’re not deciding the income level.
So the way a graph works is take for example this information we have right here, the income level in January was $1,500. So right here, we go to January and then we are going to go up to $1,500 and put a point right there. So notice here, if someone was just looking at this graph, they could tell that the person in January made $1,500. Or if they get started at the Y-axis and say, “Okay, they made $1,500 when? In January.” So we have all these information right here and then it’s being plotted into this graph to provide a more visual way for the reader to comprehend this information, because we have all this right here, this information. But it’s hard just to quickly look at this and see a trend in the income level of this person.
So in January, the person made $1,500. Now in February, they made $1,000. So we are going to move over to February and then go up to $1,000. Now March, they made $1,250. So we would go above March, and although $1,250 isn’t anywhere on here, we can pretty much decide that since these numbers are put in increments of 500, that 250 would be found between the two. So if we go halfway in between these two, we know that the income level for March was right there. Then if we go to April, we’re up to $1,500. May is $2,500, and then June is $3,500.
Now to start completing this graph so that someone could understand it, we draw lines connecting the dots. And this makes it even easier for the reader to understand the graph, because they just have to follow the lines from left to right to see the progression of income through this. Now we also need a title for this. So this could be Monthly Income. That would be a good title for this, because we’re looking at income levels per month. So titles are good on graphs because it helps the reader just quickly look at this graph and understand what it’s about.
Now, see, right here, we have this information, but it’s hard to see a general trend of the income levels for this person over the months. This is the first half of the year, the first six months. So we see here that originally the income level dropped and then it started rising. It was a steady rise from February through June. But the income level, the amount that it rose each month increased as we got to June. So now, this is a very visual way for someone to understand the information that was right here.
A pie chart is very helpful for showing how a certain category is divided. So see here, we have the makings of a pie chart, but it’s still missing a lot. Right now, all we have is information that we need to plug-in to this pie chart. So right here, we have the expenses of Joe. So rent is $200, food is $100, gas is $50, and entertainment, $50, and this is per month. So first we need a title for this pie chart. So the title is going to be Joe’s Monthly Expenses. So the great thing about a title is it allows the reader of the graph to quickly look at this graph, see the title and know what this pie chart is going to pertain to.
So now, we first need to realize or understand how much money total is being spent. So here, it’s $400 total, $200 plus $100 plus $50 plus $50 is $400. So we see here, rent is $200. So if rent is $200, then we can reduce this down to two over one, or flip it over. So here we realize, the important thing is that you realize that $200 is one half of $400. So if we draw a line right here, we realize that rent is half or 50% of all Joe’s expenses. Well, food is $100, so that’s a quarter of it. And then gas and entertainment are $50 each. So this half right here represents $200 and this quarter represents a $100, then $50 should represent half of a quarter or an eighth of the total expenses. So we put gas here and entertainment which I’ll just abbreviate.
So now, you can clearly look at this pie chart and understand how the expenses are split up. Over here, you have money amounts and that’s important, because someone may want to know, okay, how much is this person spending on gas. They can look, okay, $50. But what’s great about this right here is that it helps the reader get a visual understanding of this information up here. It helps them understand in their mind what percentage of the person’s income is being spent on what. And so someone can easily see here, okay, they are spending less money on gas than they are on food, and they are spending the same amount of money that they are on gas as entertainment. And they are spending twice as much money on rent as they are on food. So it provides a very visual representation.
So when making a pie chart, it’s important that the writer title it, and they also need to understand what percentage of the whole each thing represents. So here, someone needs to see okay, entertainment $50 and the total expenses are $400, and realize that $50 is one eighth of that, so entertainment can only be one-eighth of this circle right here, because if there was a bigger area of the circle, then it would be disproportional and it wouldn’t clearly convey to the reader. So the important thing here to remember is that a pie chart is a visual way to show how category is divided up.
A table is a way to visually represent information to help the reader retain the information presented. Tables are usually presented in a standard format. The reason for a standard format is it makes reading tables easier because the reader has probably read a similar table before. And to comply with a standard format, a table is made up of vertical columns and horizontal rows. These vertical columns and horizontal rows combine to form cells. So you can think of it looking something like this where you have these vertical columns and horizontal rows, and then this right here would be a cell and this would be defined by the row number and the column number. So this would be column two, row two. And this over here would be column two, row four, and that’s how the cell would be defined.
And then a table is generally going to have some kind of title that helps the reader quickly identify what the table is going to be about. So it could be something like Price of Milk Compared to Demand or Average Income for Various Education Levels. If the title of the table was Average Income for Various Education Levels, then the rows might be labeled Education Level and the columns might be labeled Average Income. And that would help determine what goes in the cells. So titles are very important because it helps the reader quickly identify what the table is about and determine whether or not they want to read it.
But the important thing to remember about tables is that they always have a standard format of vertical columns and horizontal rows which make cells, and the standard format makes tables easy to read and understand.
ACT Science Research Summaries
The science process skills include observing, hypothesizing, ordering, categorizing, comparing, inferring, applying, and communicating. These are all important science skills. And for the most part, this list goes from easiest to hardest. So if you want to understand one science skill, it’s good to understand the science skills before it. So I want to go over all of these and give a brief description of each.
So observing is pretty self-explanatory. This is being able to write down an accurate description of something observed in nature or something observed in an experiment. And then hypothesizing is building off an observation. You take an observation, and then you form a prediction based off those, that observation. Now ordering and categorizing are similar, because they both have to do with the structure of information. In ordering, you’re taking information and maybe putting it in a list from most important to least important, or you’re just putting it in some kind of order to make the information very accessible and very understandable.
And then categorizing has to do with taking the information and putting it with other like information, so that you have different categories of information. Comparing has to do with noticing the similarities between different events or different experiments. This is important because sometimes two experiments or two scientific phenomena will look totally different, but through the skill of comparing, you’ll be able to notice the similarities between the two. Now inferring is different than hypothesizing, because hypothesizing is making a prediction of something that will happen, whereas inferring is making a prediction or making a conjecture about something that did happen. Hypothesizing is looking forward to a future event, while inferring is looking back to a past event attempting to explain it from the information already known.
Now applying is taking a prediction and putting it into an experiment. In other words, you are taking your observation, your hypothesis of what might happen and actually applying it to an experiment. And finally, you have communicating, which actually goes hand in hand with observing, because observing is making an accurate description of something you have seen, while communicating is taking those observations and being able to communicate or tell that to someone else. That maybe by writing a description of it or by telling them about it, but this is very important because by being able to communicate information, scientists are able to feed off each other’s discoveries. So that’s why it’s important to be able to accurately communicate scientific information. So those are the science process skills.
ACT Science Data Representation
Tables are presented in standard format so that they will be easy to read and easy to understand. At the top of a table, there will be a title. And so this will be a short phrase indicating the information the table or graph intends to convey. So the title of a table could be something like Price of Milk Compared to Demand, or in this case, the Average Income for Varying Education Levels. So this right here is the title.
So a table is composed of vertical columns and horizontal rows, and so the information is laid out in those columns and rows. So this table in particular has two vertical columns and five horizontal rows. So this right here is a column, all this, and then this right here is a column as well, and then we have five rows. So this right here is a row.
Now the actual information is placed in what we call cells, which are the boxes you see here. And so we could identify a cell by saying, the cell in the second column in the fifth row. So if we go to the second column, which is this column right here, and we would go down to the fifth row, one, two, three, four, five, so this is the cell in the second column on the fifth row. And so there will be information in that cell right there.
And so right here, we have two columns and so those columns have to have labels. So we have education level and average income. So here we would have varying education levels like no high school diploma, high school diploma, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, doctorate, as well as associate’s programs, whatever you want to put in there. And then you would have the average income to accompany each type of education level. And so we’re going to label this as well right here, that’s a cell. All of these are cells. So this right here has 10 cells, and then remember that the rows run horizontally, and the columns run vertically. And then you also have a phrase indicating the information that the table intends to convey and we just call that a title.
ACT Science Data Representation
Any time you have a chart or a table, you should be asking yourself what is being shown in the data presented. In this chart, a decade’s worth of data is being displayed. You see here, 1980 through 1989. And it shows varying amounts of some quantity each year. So you have to ask yourself if any trends can be detected. And so as you review this chart, you will notice that there appears to be four-year cycles in occurrence.
See, right here, in 1982, we have a pretty high year, and so it increased from 1981. When we go four years down the row to 1986, and we have another high quantity year, and that increased from 1985. And then notice here in 1982, it decreased when it moved on to 1983 and the same thing happens here in 1986, it decreases as it moves into 1987. And so we have highs and lows on this chart that are separated by four-year intervals. So we have a four-year cycle and effect, because we have a high in 1982 and a high in 1986, four years apart. And then we have lows in 1980, 1984 and 1988, all four years apart. So this chart only goes to 1989, but if it went to 1990, we can infer that 1990 would be a high year as well.
And then you should also ask yourself if there is anything remarkable about any of the data points. And so it appears here that there was an extremely low point in 1988, and so you want to try to figure out and form a hypothesis of why that is. Now this chart isn’t very specific. Generally, a chart will have a title and it will have a label for whatever these numbers stand for over here. And so if you add some more information, you could make an educated guess or a hypothesis about why 1988 was such a low year. And so that’s the kind of analyzation you want to be doing whenever you’re dealing with a chart or a table. You don’t want to just be taking the information you are given at face value. You want to be trying to determine why the data is the way that it is.
ACT Science Research Summaries
An experiment is a set of actions and observations performed to confirm or not confirm a hypothesis or to research a causal relationship between phenomena. Now only one condition in an experiment is changed at a time. So the conditions that affect the outcome, we call variables. And then the factors and experiments that do not change are called constants. So we’re dealing with variables and constants. So again, variables are the factors that do change, and constants are the variables that do not change.
Now experiments have two parts. We have the control group and the experimental group. If we just had an experimental group, we would not be able to determine anything from the observations of an experiment. That’s why we need a control group which is the group under normal conditions. So nothing unusual is done to it. And then we have the experimental group which is the test group in which variables are changed. So the experimental group is the most important, but we have to have a control group to understand what’s going on in the experimental group. So in other words, if you are changing variables here, you don’t know what effect they are having because you don’t have a normal group.
So you start out with a group under normal conditions, and then you go to the experimental group where you only change one variable at a time. And so by changing that one variable, you get to compare the differences between the experimental group and the control group. So we’re looking at cause and effect here, because you have one variable that’s going to cause other things to happen.
So we start out with the independent variable, which is a manipulated variable in an experiment or study whose presence or degree determines the change in the dependent variable. And so then that leads us obviously to the dependent variable, which is the observed variable in an experiment or study whose changes are determined by the presence or degree of one or more independent variables. So we have an independent variable and a dependent variable. One is manipulated, and the other is observed.
So the independent variable is the variable you are changing. Remember, I said, you can only change one variable. So you are changing the independent variable and we are looking at cause and effect. So the independent variable causes an effect with the dependent variable. So that’s what you’re looking at here — the cause and effect between the independent and dependent variables.