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What's On the ACT Reading Test?

The ACT Reading Section of the ACT Test


What's On the ACT Reading Test?
copyright flickr user Jayel Aheram

ACT Reading Section

The ACT Reading section is one of five sections you'll be tested on during the ACT Test, and for many, it's the most difficult, which is why you'll need reading strategies to master it! The other sections are these:

ACT Reading Basics
  • 40 questions
  • 35 minutes
  • 4 reading passages with 10 multiple choice questions following each reading passage.

ACT Reading Scores

Just like the other ACT sections, the ACT Reading section can earn you between 1 and 36 points. The average ACT Reading score is about a 20, but your fellow test-takers are scoring higher than that to get into the really good schools.
What's a Good ACT Score?

ACT Reading Strategies

It's imperative that you prepare with ACT Reading strategies for this test. Since you'll have to answer 40 questions in just 30 minutes and read the four passages (either one long passage or two shorter, related passages), you will not have enough time to just go at it like you usually would in class. You must use some strategies before plunging in, or else you may only get to two or three of the passages!

ACT Reading Skills

The ACT Reading section does not test your memorization of vocabulary words in isolation, facts outside of the text, or logical skills. Here are the skills you will be tested on:


ACT Reading Test Content

So what will you be reading about? Good news! You will not have to interpret poetry. All the text on the ACT Reading section is prose. Whew, right?

By the way, the information below is just for reference. As I stated before, you will not be held accountable for knowledge outside of the text, so you don't need to check out books from the library about this stuff. Just realize that you could be reading passages about one of the following subjects, so at least you'll know what you're up against.

  • Social Studies: anthropology, archaeology, biography, business, economics, education, geography, history, political science, psychology, and sociology.
  • Natural Sciences: anatomy, astronomy, biology, botany, chemistry, ecology, geology, medicine, meteorology, microbiology, natural history, physiology, physics, technology, and zoology.
  • Prose Fiction: short stories or excerpts from short stories or novels.
  • Humanities: memoirs and personal essays and in the content areas of architecture, art, dance, ethics, film, language, literary criticism, music, philosophy, radio, television, and theater.

That's about all you need to know about the ACT Reading section. Try your hand at the following reading comprehension worksheets to help prepare you for what you need to know!
Reading Comprehension Practice

And don’t forget to read Top 5 ACT Reading Strategies for skills that will help you on this difficult section.

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