ACT Reading Exam Information

Explanations of Reading Exam Strategies and ACT Testing Advice:

The reading exam contains four passages and 40 questions. You will be given 35 minutes to complete this part of the test.

You will need to be able to understand the ideas expressed in the passage, comprehend the correct sequence of events, interpret the author’s point of view, and make comparisons and generalizations.

More specifically, you will need to use the reading strategies of inferring and logical reasoning in order to do the following.

Reading Strategies

  • identify main and specific ideas
  • compare specific ideas or certain points within a text
  • carry out comparisons and contrasts of the information expressed in two different passages
  • determine the chain of causes and effects in the passage by using deductive reasoning to examine the specific events in the text
  • use inductive reasoning to make generalizations from the specific points in the text
  • deploy logical reasoning to understand the chronological sequence of events in a passage in which the events have been stated in a non-linear order
  • understand the meaning of high-level academic vocabulary within the context of the passage
  • examine the passage in order to assess the author’s intention, tone, purpose, or audience

The passages on the ACT reading exam are on a variety of academic topics, including natural science, social science, philosophy, art, literature, and other areas in the humanities.

Some passages will be longer than others, and there will be a section in which you will need to make comparisons between two short passages.

You won’t need to (and shouldn’t) use any of your outside knowledge to answer the questions on this part of the ACT exam.

Rather, use only the information provided in the text in order to answer the questions provided.

For further information on the other parts of the ACT exam, please visit our English, Science, and Writing pages.