Read the Passage First
Read the Passage First
The advice that you should read the passage before looking at the questions should sound familiar. We gave you the same counsel in our chapter on the Reading Test, and it is equally applicable to the Science Reasoning Test.
Read the Passage for a General Understanding
When you read the passage for the first time, you should be reading for a general understanding of it. For Data Representation and Research Summaries passages, look at the provided charts to see which factors or variables are represented. If the passage deals with an experiment, make sure you know what the experiment tests and what the goal of the experiment is. You should not examine specific aspects of the data, such as how the value of one variable changes against another—leave that sort of analysis for when you answer specific questions.
Remember that there is very little time on this test, so you should not spend a significant amount of time reading the passages. If you labor excruciatingly over every sentence and piece of data in a passage, you will leave yourself little time to answer the questions. As we stated about the Reading Test, you should find a perfect balance between reading passages and answering questions when you take your practice tests.
Talk to Yourself and Make Notes
If you find that you’re having a hard time absorbing the information in the passage, talk to yourself as you go through it. If a Research Summaries passage has three experiments, say “three experiments” to yourself, or jot it down in the margin, and then note the key differences between the experiments. For example, if each experiment tests a different variable, make sure you know what the variables are.
A few key questions you should ask yourself when reading a science passage are:
  • What is being tested?
  • Why is it being tested?
  • What are the variables?
  • What are the factors that stay the same?
If you ask yourself these questions while reading the passage and make sure you know the answers to them, you will have a leg up when answering the questions.
As you go through the passage asking these questions, jot down your answers in note form next to the relevant sections of the passage. Don’t spend too much time making these notes; their main functions are to assist your comprehension of the passage and to jolt your memory when you answer the questions. If you’re reading about an experiment that measures acidity, you can scribble “acidity” in the margin by the experiment. If the same experiment varies the concentration of a solution (i.e., if concentration is the variable in the experiment), you can jot down something like: “change conc.” You don’t have to follow these examples exactly; come up with shorthand expressions that make sense to you. Underlining sentences and circling key information (the variables, for example) will also help you comprehend and remember the passage.
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