Graphical Interpretation

ACT Science Tutorial

Graphical Interpretation


A great deal of the ACT Science section that I have interacted with has to do with being able to read and accurately interpret graphs. Here I include a sample problem and the way that I interpret the information.

Sample Problem

Question source

Use the following information to answer the question below.

A student is conducting a research project to discover which plants grow best in different amounts of light exposure. The student wishes to discover which types of plants thrive in higher levels of light exposure, and which types of plants thrive in lower levels of light exposure. The student conducts the experiment by providing four different plants with various amounts of sunlight. The data collected by the student is provided in the graph above. Which statement would be most correct according to the data collected by the student.

Choose the correct answer using the information provided

Trillium growth is positively correlated with sunlight exposure

Geranium is neither positively nor negatively correlated with sunligh exposure

Geranium growth is positively correlated with sunlight exposure

Geranium growth is negatively correlated with sunlight exposure


While this problem is not particularly difficult, it is intended to encapsulate the general nature of questions that a student may encounter in the ACT Science section. Students are generally required to read a graph, interpret the data, read a passage, and answer accordingly. It has been my professional and personal experience that students will struggle with the language in the science section. Knowing that the Geranium is increasing with the amount of sunlight exposure is the key to answering this question. The trillium can be eliminated fairly easily since it is the “odd man out” in this question. Then all you have to do is look at the amount of growth and compare that to the amount of sunlight the Geranium is exposed to.

This type of question would be an example of an easier, opening question on the ACT. This question would most likely be followed with another graph which connected to plant growth with the same types of flowers. Students would most likely be asked to interpret information from both graphs in order to correctly answer follow up questions. The key is not to let the science terminology overwhelm you, take your time, and to read very carefully.

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Physical And Environmental Science Teacher
Hey there, my name is Ben and I am a Physical and Environmental Science teacher. I have been teaching at Lakeside School District for about a year, but I have several years of experience helping my children with homework. I have had experience working one on one with students to help improve underst...
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