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ACT Reading Guide: How to Prepare for ACT Reading Section?

Yocket Editorial Team

Comprising of different reading passages and targeted towards evaluating your presence of mind and analytical abilities, the ACT reading is one of the most critical sections of the ACT test. Social Studies, General Science, Literary Studies and Current Affairs are some of the domains on which the ACT reading passages are based on. One major challenge in this section is time management. However, you can confidently tackle the ACT reading topics with rigorous practice and preparation. 

In this blog, we dwell at length on the ACT reading section by including ACT question types, topics and some valuable ACT reading tips. 

  Table of Contents

  1. What is the ACT Reading Section?
  2. ACT Reading Syllabus
  3. ACT Reading Question Types
  4. How to Prepare for ACT Reading?

What is the ACT Reading Section?

Before delving deeper into the ACT syllabus or question types of the ACT reading section, we should become acquainted with its framework.

To begin with, it is the third component of the ACT exam and accounts for one-quarter of the total score. This segment is also 36 points, just like the others. It consists of four passages with approximately 800 words each with 40 questions altogether and a time limit of 35 minutes

ACT Reading Syllabus

As it has already been mentioned, the ACT exam pattern includes a reading section made up of four large texts, each with ten questions. The four different types of passages in ACT reading section include: 

  • Prose Fiction: It comprises snippets from novels or short tales. The majority of the passages are modern, promoting variety, and usually centred on family dynamics.
  • Social Science: Anthropology, archaeology, biography, business, economics, education, geography, history, political science, psychology, and sociology are examples of social science topics.
  • Humanities: Nonfiction passages in the humanities, typically contain recollections or personal essays Architecture, art, dance, ethics, film, language, literary criticism, music, philosophy, radio, television, and theatre are among the topics covered.
  • Natural Science: Anatomy, astronomy, biology, botany, chemistry, ecology, geology, medicine, meteorology, microbiology, natural history, physiology, physics, technology, and zoology are some of the topics covered in natural science.

Even if you do not have prior knowledge of any of the ACT reading topics the ACT reading textbooks available in the market will provide all of the information you need to answer the questions. 

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ACT Reading Question Types

The ACT Reading section contains different categories of questions to evaluate the abilities of the students to comprehend core concepts, detect nuances, and decipher intent.

You'll be expected to evaluate and examine hidden meaning as well as keep a keen eye on what's openly expressed. However, there isn't much room for interpretation—even ostensibly subjective questions will always have indisputably accurate answers. Some types of ACT reading questions include:

Main Idea/Overall Picture: These questions focus on the passage's core topic or theme. It is your responsibility to select the response that best conveys the general overview of the content you just read.

Specifics/Detailed Picture: These questions will frequently refer to a particular line in the passage and ask you to explain the context.

Contextual Vocabulary: These questions will direct you to a particular word or phrase and ask you to elaborate on what it means or how it operates in context. These inquiries frequently point to a familiar word or phrase that is being utilized uncommonly.

Performance and growth: In these questions, you must describe the impact of a phrase, sentence, or paragraph within the framework of a course of the text. Performance questions typically involve lesser chunks of text. 

Assumption of Ideas: These are questions about assumptions. implications of a single sentence, paragraph, or entire piece. 

Comparative Questions: Interpreting similarities and differences in viewpoints, if any.

Cause and Effect Questions: Analyze cause-and-effect relationships

You are tested based on three major concepts in the ACT exam. You need to be able to structure your answers in such a way that is best suited to the framework of the following concepts. The important concepts are as follows:

Key Concepts and Specifics: Here you need to establish core ideas and topics by accurately articulating, drawing conclusions and inferences, and comprehending chronological, parallel, and cause-effect linkages.

Details about the Structuring of the Passage: Determining the meanings of words and phrases, examining authors' verbiage and sentence construction, comprehending writers' goals and perspectives, as well as characters' perspectives, and distinguishing between diverse viewpoints.

Merging Concepts and Ideas: Assessing the writers' statements, discerning between facts and views, while using arguments to connect disparate texts.

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You are required to have certain skills to have a clear idea about the concepts and that helps in forming a better structure for your answers. Let’s discuss these skills in detail:

Skills Required for ACT Reading 

You are tested on various concepts in the ACT reading sections. To understand and respond to questions regarding different texts and concepts, you must have certain skills. The ACT requires you to use reference and reasoning skills to answer the questions.

Some of the skills and tips for reading section of act are:

  • Recognize key concepts.
  • Uncover and interpret details inside a passage.
  • Recognize cause-and-effect relationships.
  • Interpret the order of events and the stream of thoughts.
  • Compare and contrast.
  • Examine the style and intent of the writer or storyteller.
  • Understand the context-specific meaning of words, phrases, and statements.

If you can master the above-mentioned skills, the ACT reading component will be your piece of cake. 

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How to Prepare for ACT Reading

Rigorous preparation is essential to perform well in any test, and ACT is not an exception here. You must come up with ACT reading strategies to ace this section. And it is only possible if you invest more time and effort into it. Here are some ACT tips and tricks to help you prepare better for the exam:

  • There are numerous books available to help you prepare for this part. Use the official booklet provided on the ACT official website. It will give you a quick rundown of what to expect for the exam.
  • Since it is the reading section, you must enhance your reading comprehension abilities. For that, read as many passages as you possibly can. Make it a regular habit till you appear for the exam.
  • Research the current social, political and general issues and develop your thoughts. It will not only keep you up-to-date but also offer a global perspective. 
  • Practice reading in as many different formats and circumstances as you can. In the ACT reading test, always read the passage carefully.
  • The first step in the ACT reading response is to eliminate wrong answers.
  • Gather information the ACT reading scoring pattern or ACT score calculator
  • Learn about ACT reading comprehension questions.
  • Nowadays, everyone benefits from the internet. You may get a wide variety of study materials on the internet. Several websites provide ACT practice tests. Practice as many sample question papers as you can before sitting for the official exam. You can also find ACT practice reading passages on the official ACT website.
  • There are numerous offline and online classes available to assist with ACT preparation. You may enrol in one of them. Or private instructors can also be hired to assist with exam preparation.
  • A man becomes flawless by practice. Get as much ACT reading preparation as you can before the exam.
  • Several books are also available to help you prep for the ACT exam. They include:
  1. Official ACT Prep Guide
  2. Official Beginner’s Guide for ACT
  3. Kaplan Free ACT Practice
  4. Official ACT Prep and Subject Guides
  5. Official ACT Reading Guide
  6. Barron’s ACT Premium Study Guide
  7. Princeton’s Review Premium ACT Prep

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So, that was all about ACT reading tips, question patterns and syllabus. The ACT reading section assesses your ability to read carefully, reason rationally about passages using facts, and consolidate data from various sources. So prepare well and score high in this part. For further guidance and assistance, connect with our counselors at Yocket now! 


Frequently Asked Questions about ACT Reading

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How do I improve my skills for the ACT reading exam?

What are ACT reading question types?

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