17 ACT Reading Tips That You Can Use
17 ACT Reading Tips That You Can Use

17 ACT Reading Tips That You Can Use

The ACT Reading section is a critical component of the ACT, designed to evaluate a student’s comprehension and reasoning skills. It includes four passages, each followed by ten multiple-choice questions. The passages cover a diverse range of topics, drawn from Social Studies, Natural Sciences, Literary Narration, and Humanities. The key to excelling in this section is not only rapid and accurate reading but also efficient analysis and interpretation of the provided information.

Key facts about the ACT reading passages

  • The ACT reading section consists of 40 questions
  • You have 35 minutes for passage
  • Average slightly under 9 minutes do a reading passage and its questions
  • 4 Passage Types: Literary Narrative Passage, Social Studies Passage, Humanities Passage, Natural Science Passage
  • The reading score goes from 0 to 36.
  • There is no additional penalty for wrong answers

Below are Act reading tips in bullet point format for you to follow.

Act Reading Strategies: Main idea

  • Read the entire passage looking for the main idea.
  • Think of the main idea as what the author is trying to convince you of
  • If the author is trying to convince you that climate change is causing the price of coffee to go up then that will be the main idea
  • For the literary narrative passage, the author is not trying to “convince” you of a certain proposition. Instead, find the main theme of the literary narrative passage.

Act Reading Strategies: Key Facts

  • For any information you get, keep in mind the big facts
  • Do not try to understand every minor detail in a passage
  • Trying to understand every little detail will slow you down. Instead, every few lines, note only the key facts

Act Reading Strategies: Break the passage Down

  • As you read the text restate it in your own words i.e. read actively
  • Stating the text in your own words will allow you to digest the passage more and understand what is being discussed

Act Reading Strategies: POE

  • When in doubt, work backwards eliminating incorrect answer choices. Choose the correct answer from what remains
  • Choose the “least worst”: the correct answer does not always scream at you.

Classic Wrong Answer Choices for the ACT Reading Passages

  1. Irrelevant Choices: These options may contain information that, while factual, does not directly answer the question asked.
  2. Extreme Choices: These answers take a concept from the passage and exaggerate it beyond what the text supports.
  3. Opposite Answers: These options present information that is directly contradicted by the text.
  4. Half-Right Choices: These answers may contain part of the correct response but also include incorrect or misleading information.
  5. Trap Choices: These options may include wording similar to the passage or familiar concepts to mislead you. Always ensure the choice directly answers the question based on the passage content.

These are the most common form of wrong answers in the ACT reading section.

Finally, stay cool and confident as you eliminate wrong answers!

Navigating through the Fiction Section

The Fiction or Literary Narration section of the ACT Reading test often presents a unique challenge. This section typically includes one or two stories that can range from classic to contemporary literature. The questions that follow usually require an in-depth understanding of the plot, characters, and themes presented in the story.

The primary challenge lies in the analysis of abstract concepts and inferred meanings, which are common elements in narrative pieces. It is not enough to just understand the literal events in the story; you also need to interpret the underlying themes, character motivations, and implications of events to answer the questions accurately.

Developing a familiarity with narrative structures and literary conventions can be useful when tackling this section. Reading a variety of short stories and novels can help enhance this skill. During the test, it might be helpful to take brief notes on the main characters, plot developments, and any notable themes or symbols. This strategy can assist in answering questions efficiently and accurately.

Understanding the Social Studies Section

The Social Studies section of the ACT Reading test presents its own set of challenges and opportunities. This portion of the test typically includes excerpts from texts focusing on topics such as history, geography, economics, sociology, and political science. These passages may present facts, theories, or arguments related to these fields.

The questions in this section often require students to analyze the author’s claims, understand the main ideas, and interpret data from charts or graphs. Students may need to understand the author’s perspective, the structure of the argument, or the implications of the presented data. It’s not just about recalling information; it’s also about being able to understand and interpret the data in the context of the passage.

To excel in this section, it is beneficial to have a basic understanding of social studies terminology and concepts. Regular reading of news articles, historical texts, and academic papers can also provide good practice in analyzing and interpreting these kinds of texts. During the test, note the key points and arguments made in the passage, and be ready to use those notes to answer the questions effectively.

Mastering the Humanities Section

The Humanities section of the ACT Reading test represents another facet of this comprehensive exam. This segment typically includes passages from personal essays, art criticism, literature (including drama and poetry), philosophy, and cultural commentary. The focus here is on understanding and interpreting the human experience through various artistic and philosophical lenses.

The questions in this section may require students to understand the main ideas, recognize stylistic elements, comprehend the author’s tone or perspective, and interpret figurative language. Students may also need to delineate the relationships between different elements within a passage, like characters or ideas.

To succeed in this section, it’s helpful to have a solid grasp of literary and artistic terminology. Regular exposure to various forms of art and literature, including plays, essays, and philosophical texts, can foster familiarity with the kind of content featured in this section. During the test, making note of the central theme, tone, and style of the passage can be beneficial when addressing the questions.

Conquering the Science Section

The Science section of the ACT Reading test is a unique blend of reading comprehension and scientific reasoning. It typically contains passages that include scientific information in formats such as summaries of experiments, conflicting viewpoints on scientific issues, or descriptions of scientific phenomena.

The questions in this section will often require students to interpret data presented in the form of graphs, diagrams, or tables, understand experimental design, and evaluate scientific hypotheses and conclusions. They may also need to reconcile differing scientific viewpoints based on the provided information.

To excel in this section, having a foundational understanding of the scientific method and basic principles across various scientific fields such as biology, chemistry, physics, and earth/space sciences is beneficial. Regular reading of scientific texts, journal articles, or research summaries can help students familiarize themselves with the kind of content and data interpretation required in this section. During the test, taking note of the main scientific concepts, data points, and any conflicting viewpoints can optimize the answering process.

Now you know the right strategies to get the correct answer consistently on the ACT reading. You can implement these strategies and significantly boost your ACT reading score. Do these strategies over and over again on practice tests. Remember practice is key!

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