10 Tips for Acing ACT Reading Passage

Exam: Test Prep ACT Test - American College Testing: English, Math, Reading, Science, Writing


The ACT Reading section is intimidating for many of the students taking up the test as most of them find unclear reading passages uninteresting to read and answer the related questions. However, unlike other standardised tests like SAT, the questions in the Reading section of ACT are very straight forward and easy to answer. Acing this section can be a cake walk for students provided they follow 10 tips for preparation and taking up the test. The preparation strategies would include complete understanding of the content of the section, identifying the areas of strength and weakness and working on the weak areas for better scoring. The students also need to plan on strategies on how to finish the section on time and answer effectively to achieve the best scores.

Preparation Strategies:

Read, Read and Read:

The most important factor for preparation is dedicating the necessary efforts and focusing the efforts in the right direction. The aspects to be considered for preparation for succeeding in the Reading section are many; however, finally the only task that needs to be religiously done to effectively cover all the aspects is just reading and more of reading. For students who do not have a regular reading habit will need to put little more efforts to developing the skills for the succeeding in the section. Copious readers will find it easier to take up the test as the questions and answers of the section will be similar to the questions they pose to themselves while their regular reading.

Advanced Placement Classes

Advanced Placement classes are the most effective way of enhance the quality reading time spent on reading. The class not only add on to the reading time of the student but also introduces the student to the language used in college textbooks. The form of writing used in college textbooks is entirely different from the high school textbooks with use of not-so-common words. An introduction to this form of writing would be a great help for students in successfully taking up ACT Reading section as the test is majorly focused towards assessing the readiness of students for the college curriculum.

Types of Questions

After strengthening the reading skills through augmentation in the reading habits, the student must now focus on the typical types of reading questions encountered in the ACT Reading test. Normally, a typical ACT Reading test consists of questions such as meaning of a word or phrase on the basis of is usage in a context, approaching a topic from view point of the author and surmise the reason the adoption of a particular strategy by the author, explaining the strategy used by the author and the final type of question being summarizing the passage. The questions are usually direct and a regular practice can help the students in get familiarised with the writing style of the passage and understanding the passages faster, which would ultimately make them help score more.

Clarity in Understanding the Reading Passage

As simple as the questions sound to be, the usual carelessness that makes students lose their marks is lack of clarity in understanding the passage. The student must take time to comprehend the passage in the right context and eliminate any kind of confusion in understanding the passage. Minimizing doubts and right interpretation is what make a student unique in answering the questions compared to the bunch of others who are easily distracted. The three key words to perform extraordinarily are being attentive, careful and thoughtful while reading the passages. The questions being direct, the only reason behind students losing out on scores in the Reading section is due to lack of ability to control distractions and being attentive throughout the test.

Using Dictionary

This is an important, though tedious task, requirement in achieving success in the reading section. Looking up every new word they come across while reading in a dictionary helps in enhancing the vocabulary and an key opportunity for students to stay ahead of the other test takers in the comprehending the reading passages.   

Reading tips

Time management

Since the students have only 35 minutes to read through four passages of around 90 lines each and answer 10 multiple choice questions of each passage, time management plays an extremely important role in acing the reading section. Only a proper management of time can help students to pace themselves efficiently to attempt all the questions.

Right Start

Students have the option to start with any of the four passages which is usually set in the order of Prose Fiction, Social Science, Humanities and Natural Science. The students should always start with the topic that interests them the most so that they are able to comprehend the passage and answer faster, which helps in boosting confidence to take up the next passages.

Underline and Summarize Every Paragraph

Underlining the key words such as the verbs and nouns and summarizing the paragraph as a student reads through the passage is an excellent way to recollect the content of each paragraph while answering the questions.

Rely on Primarily Memory to Answer

Though the questions are direct, ACT makes answering difficult by giving tricky answering options. The best way to defeat this is to rely on memory once the students get the essence of the passage. Relying on memory to answer helps in avoiding choosing a wrong answer due to confusion after looking into the wrong answer choices.

Review and Practice Reading Basics

Reviewing and practicing the basic concepts of reading will prove to be an effective tool for students to understand the gist, vocabulary used in the content, strategy of the author and relating the content to answer the questions faster and more accurately.


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