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Need some help working through the Conflicting Viewpoints passages on the ACT Science section? In this lesson, we’ll walk you through some sample questions.

Conflicting Viewpoints

On the ACT Science section, Conflicting Viewpoints passages ask you to evaluate the opinions of two or more scientists on a particular topic. These passages give you a break on the crazy charts, but they make up for it with more text to read and multiple viewpoints to keep track of.The key to success on the Conflicting Viewpoints passages is to stay completely clear on who says what. You will get questions designed to confuse you about this, so stay on top of it, and you’ll be well on your way to a high score.

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Sample Passage

To start you off, here’s a sample passage:

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Can you find the reason in Scientist 1’s opinion? Which of the answer choices sounds most like his argument? The answer’s coming up.Did you pick (B)? Scientist 1 is arguing that the unusually harsh storm season this year was an outlier. It didn’t fit into a pattern.

He never says anything related to answers (A), (C), or (D), so (B) is the correct answer.That question was pretty small potatoes, though. It only covered one of the two scientists involved.

Next, let’s try a harder one that asks you about both.

Question 2

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Here’s where all our hard work labeling the passages is about to pay off. Let’s break this down. We want something that does support Scientist 2 but does not support Scientist 1. Remember that we called Scientist 2 ‘Mr. Related’ and Scientist 1 ‘Mr.

Unrelated’ because Scientist 2 thinks the storms are related to climate change and Scientist 1 thinks they’re unrelated.Let’s first go through looking for something that does support the view of Scientist 2, Mr. Related. We can cross off choice (A) because choice (A) says that the winter storms are not related, so this doesn’t fit.We can also use this method to cross off (D), since Scientist 2 says that the polar ice caps are melting.

So choice (D) would contradict Scientist 2 as well.Now we’re already down to just two answer choices. Both (B) and (C) could theoretically support Scientist 2, so now we’ll see which one contradicts Scientist 1.Scientist 1 doesn’t make an argument about whether or not humans are responsible for climate change, so choice (C) just isn’t relevant.But choice (B) would indeed contradict Scientist 1, because Scientist 1 says this data is not part of a pattern.

Choice (B) is the only one that fits both the criteria in the question: it supports Scientist 2 and contradicts Scientist 1. So (B) is the correct answer. See how helpful it is to have both scientists straight in your head before you dive into the questions?

Lesson Summary

In this lesson, you worked through a Conflicting Viewpoints passage and two questions on it to get a preview of what these passages will look like on the test. As you can see, they’re not impossible; they just require you to keep track of who says what.Ready for more? Check out the quiz questions to try your hand at some questions on your own.

Learning Outcomes

After this lesson, you should be able to:

  • Describe the structure of the Conflicting Viewpoints passage questions on the ACT Science section
  • Explain how to work these problems efficiently

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