ACT Reading Test Preparation
Dakota State University
February 25, 2008
Overview of the Session
• Understanding the ACT Reading Test
• Types of reading passages
• Types of questions
• General test-taking strategies for the reading
• Sample test passages
• Tips for preparing for the test
Understanding the Reading Test
• A total of 40 questions in 35 minutes
• 4 passages, each with 10 questions
– 1 test score for Reading
– 2 subscores for Literature/Humanities reading
skills and Social Sciences/Sciences reading skills
Types of Passages
• The following types of passages, each with 10
questions, are presented in this order:
• Prose Fiction
• Social Sciences
• Natural Sciences
• Some types of questions will show up
in every type of passage. Others
will be unique to specific types.
General Information about Passages
• Each passage is about 750 words
• Each passage is placed into two columns with line
numbers in the margin
• Each passage uses the same instructions.
Instructions never change. Therefore, save time
by reading and understanding the instructions
before taking the exam.
Prose Fiction Passages
• Prose fiction is the only fiction on the test
• Consists of excerpts from novels or short stories.
• Passages usually have a plot (a sequence of actions) and
– Keep track of the actions – Who does what? Where was it done?
When was it done? Why was it done?
– Keep track of characters – What kinds of conflict do they face?
Conflict with another character?
Internal (conflict within him/herself?)
External (Man vs. Nature)? How does the
– Keep track of tone – Who is telling the story? Are
they biased? Objective? Be alert for connotative words.
Social Science Passages
• Expository writing that may focus on a variety of subjects,
including anthropology, biography, business, education,
geography, history, political science, and psychology. Passages
focus on analysis.
• Common organizational patterns include cause/effect,