This section of the website - the ACT Test Center - was designed with students in mind. Specifically, this section was designed to help students perform well on the ACT test. If you've landed on this page, then you probably are a teacher. You're not likely taking the ACT test this year, so why are you here? Probably because you wondered if or how you could use this part of The Physics Classroom website. Like us, you care about your students and you want them to do well in whatever endeavor they undertake. And so our invitation to you is to join with us in helping students perform to their full potential on the ACT test.
The best means by which we can prepare our students for the ACT test is to offer them a good science course. Here the adjective good refers to a science course that is saturated with scientific process, reasoning, and thinking. For our students, a successful ACT experience will not depend on how much content that we have taught them. Rather, it will depend on how on the quantity and the richness of the experience that we have provided them with regards to scientific process. These processes typically include the following:
- reading and interpreting charts and graphs and diagrams
- analyzing the design of experiments
- analyzing the assumptions that underlie experimental procedures
- analyzing information such as lab results and diagrams
- thinking about the logical conclusions that emerge from experimental results
- thinking about models that can be constructed to summarize experimental conclusions
- reasoning scientifically about data, experiments, models, theories and conflicting viewpoints
- and a bunch of other teacher stuff that might not be very interesting to you at this point
The scientific processes described above most commonly occur in the lab portion of our courses. Yet it is often an effective strategy to expose students to non-lab activities that cultivate their ability to perform the same processes. This can be done using passages like those included here at the ACT Test Center. You are welcome to use any of the activities in this ACT Test Center in your classes. You can print them and use them as teacher-guided exercises, as practice tests, as enrichment activities and even as assessment tools. While they were designed to improve student performance on the ACT test, we recognize that they also make great exercises for developing scientific reasoning skills. So use them as you wish. Our only request is that you refrain from placing them on public websites. Please let us be in charge of distributing the pages across the internet population.
Oh. And by the way - there is another section under development that will be coming soon. Check back mid-Summer (2012) as we unveil a companion section to the ACT Test Center. Once complete, this teacher section will focus on improving student's scientific reasoning skills. This section will equip teachers with a collection of classroom-ready resources that can be used to target student ability to reason with data, experiments and models.