Everything You Need to Know About ACT Reading Section


Mrunmayai Bobade
Updated on Feb 28, 2022 11:30 AM IST

The ACT Reading test has 40 questions that you must answer in 35 minutes. Investing your time where it will yield the biggest benefit will help you earn your best possible reading score. Scroll through the article to know more!

Everything You Need to Know About ACT Reading Section

A standardized test called the ACT (American College Testing) is required for admission to undergraduate programs in the United States and Canada. This test measures reasoning and critical thinking skills. In this test, you will read a set of passages and answer questions related to them. ACT's reading section, the third one, is akin to burning both ends of the candle, but it can be overwhelming because of time constraints.

Occasionally, you'll need to determine the meaning of a word or phrase from its context in a question. Some of the questions in this passage use words that are relatively common; however, their meanings are figurative rather than literal. Use the process of elimination to eliminate any answers that don't match the context when the question asks about an unfamiliar word. 

What is the ACT Reading Section?

The ACT Reading Test measures your ability to comprehend what you read and how well you are able to recall and convey it. You will be asked to locate information that has been directly stated in a passage and to understand what it is about or to attempt to interpret it at a more rudimentary level. Quick overview:

  • There is a time limit of 35 minutes.

  • There are 40 multiple-choice questions (10 in each passage).

  • The passages will be divided into four categories which you have to read (one for fiction, one for social science, one for the humanities, one for science).

  • ACT Reading scores are calculated on a 1-36 scale as your other multiple-choice sections, and they make up 1/4 of your overall ACT score.

Our Study Abroad Consultants' have trained a great number of students on a one-to-one basis to score excellent results, particularly in the ACT Reading Section. We are glad to see so many of our students are attending the colleges to which they aspire. Know More.

Need Help Preparing for ACT Reading Section? 

ACT Reading Passages

A specimen from a published work in the fields of biology to political science is one of four types of passages found in the ACT Reading test. There is likely to be something here that you enjoy reading about - but the reverse also holds true, and many test-takers have challenges in one or more areas. ACT Reading tests always include the following subjects with respect to their order:

  1. Scripts/fiction/literary narrative (narratives, memoirs, or excerpts from classic and contemporary novels)

  2. Social science (this can include anything from sociology and ecology to psychology)

  3. The humanities (such topics as languages, arts, or various others)

  4. Natural science (anything from chemistry and geology to physics)

The passages usually range between 700- 900 words and are geared toward 10th-11th grade readers or in either case you can say that they are not difficult to read.

Also Read: Why Many US Universities Are No Longer Considering ACT/SAT Scores as an Admission Requirement

ACT Reading Questions

As we discussed, the ACT's reading section is composed of 40 questions, each with ten questions per passage. You will need to finish answering these questions within 35 minutes. The answer time per question is less than one minute (not taking into account passage reading time). There are three categories of ACT Reading questions fall into: 

  • Craft and Structure (25–30%): Analyze the author's choices to answer these questions. You will need to explain why an element of text, a text structure, a point of view, or an organizational choice is given its purpose. For instance, how does the purpose of the passage relate to a phrase, a word, a paragraph, or even a sentence or statement that was included?

  • Important Details/Ideas (55-60%): You will use information from the passages to answer these questions, which can often be rephrased in the questions and answer choices.

  • Knowledge/Interpretation Integration (13-18%): In this section, your goal is to establish connections between segments of a passage or between multiple passages. Identifying the relationship between different pieces of information is the right answer in this case.

With effect from 2021, the ACT will incorporate a graphic into one passage likewise of the SAT admission test. Reading questions will roughly follow the passage in chronological order. Make yourself aware, however, approximately 33% of questions will be asked about the passage in its depth or entirety, so keep an eye out for those!

Also Read: 

Everything You Need to Know About ACT Mathematics

Everything You Need to Know About ACT Science

Everything You Need to Know About ACT Writing

Everything You Need to Know About ACT English

Does the ACT Reading Test Pose a Challenge?

A little practice is definitely necessary to become proficient in ACT Reading. As you read, you have to constantly analyze what you are reading-it's nothing like the reading you do for fun. It isn't like the text you would read for a high school course - it is a self-contained text, so you won't be connecting it to anything else.

Due to the standardized nature of the ACT, you can identify patterns with enough practice. Therefore, for individuals who are already strong readers, it is crucial to work with quality materials constantly through determination.

Related: ACT vs. SAT: What is the Difference & Which One is Right for You?

What's easier, ACT Reading or SAT Reading?

Depending on which kind of bibliophile you are and what kind of reading style you have, it may take longer or shorter. However, ACT testing can be easier if you’re:

  • A quick reader.

  • Historical documents aren't your cup of tea.

  • You appreciate consistency in reading levels.

How? Let's look at it from different angles.

ACT reading questions are timed in 35 minutes for 40 questions, while SAT reading questions are timed in 65 minutes for 52 questions. Even though SAT passages are teeny-weeny (500-750 words compared to 700-900 words on the ACT), they are more plentiful (five instead of four), and they are balanced out in the epilogue.

Despite the addition of one graphic per reading section on the ACT, the SAT still has two. For those who are uncomfortable with this kind of question, the ACT may be preferable.

The SAT passages, in contrast, are taken from historical documents like the Great Global Conversation. While these kinds of documents might not be to every person's taste (though they can be mastered with practice), they are still quite valuable. This type of passage does not appear on the ACT Reading section as it uses more secondary-source-type passages.

The SAT tests at a level of reading that is a bit more unpredictable, while the ACT targets reading levels of the 10th/11th grades. Depending on the level of the text, you could end up with anything from 9th-11th grade.

If you think that getting better at reading isn't something you can do, think again! Don’t forget that the ACT Reading Section tests very precise and punctilious skills. And there is good news! Inch by inch these skills can be refined and polished with deep pockets like- solid question banks, good advice, and full-length practice tests. To do so, follow these steps:

  • Engage yourself in a habit of active reading throughout the day, do not just read passages for formality. As you read something new, repeat the following steps:

  1. Establishing both the overall theme and the key points of each paragraph.

  2. Identifying cause-and-effect relationships.

  3. Analyzing the timeline or concatenation.

  4. Grasp the writer’s purpose and tonality.

Are you a regular reader? If not, now is the time to head start the reading journey. Take the time to read articles and news magazines covering a variety of topics, such as fiction and nonfiction.

  • Read, study, and make sure you understand what the Reading section covers! Moreover, prepare by reviewing essential ACT topics to study by section.

  • The key to success is regular practice! If vocabulary is your area of weakness, work on it. At the time of actual ACT, you won't have to memorize a perplexing or very complex list of words. 

Nevertheless, in order to understand the passages and grasp the meaning of words, there will be a few "word in context" vocabulary questions.

Wishing to Achieve a Perfect Score in ACT Reading Section? 

Tips for Boosting ACT Reading Scores

It has become clear over the past few years that timing is a serious issue for students taking the ACT Reading section. One common question always pops is- how can I skim ACT Reading passages and finish on time? Furthermore, going with a turtle’s pace can hurt your test results in this section. So what's the secret to conquering time in the Reading section?

  • Start learning time management. 

  • Pace your strategies. 

  • Put those skills to practice with some ACT Reading practice questions.

  • Don't focus exclusively on it (Though time is crucial). 

  • Finally, round out your knowledge and practise to perfection.

Also Read: Top Courses for International Students to Study in the USA

ACT Reading Percentiles

For those who haven't taken the ACT, here's how percentiles for ACT Reading differ by score:

ACT Reading Score


























































What Else Do I Need to Know About ACT Reading Scores?

The average score on the ACT Reading section is 21.4. Moreover, the average score on any ACT section (the composite score average is 20.9) is higher than the other sections. There's good news here because that implies that (generally) students find this to be an easy test to take. As a result, you will also need to work harder to get the best score, since your score will need to be even higher to differentiate you from the rest.

Where Can I Go If I Have An ACT Reading Score?

There is also a possibility that a certain ACT score will allow you to qualify for merit scholarships offered by various colleges. Since these awards differ from college to college, making sure you check with the college where you intend to apply is important.

If a college is on your mind, you should be aware that according to the ACT test makers, a student scoring less than 23 on the ACT Reading Test will likely fail his or her college English class freshman year. For those belonging to this category, getting better at reading may be accomplished through preferring quality resources or by attending the senior English course at your high school. 

Ultimately, the aim of this course is to help you prepare for taking the ACT again by exposing you to a variety of reading materials. As a final recommendation, if the ACT Reading test affects your overall composite score negatively, prior to retaking the ACT, make sure you focus on your Reading score. Remember that practice tests coupled with careful evaluation and study are the most effective ways to improve your score.

Also Read: List of Entrance Exams to Study Abroad: Apply Online Here

We can be reached at abroad@collegedekho.com if you'd like more information about the ACT Reading Section. Our Study Abroad Consultants' have prepared a great number of students to take the ACT Reading Section with excellent results. As many of our students as possible are pursuing their dreams by attending the colleges to which they hunted for. Know More.

Having a Hard Time Preparing for ACT Reading Section? Get FREE Expert Advice Now!

You can share this post!

Admission Open 2024

University of Utah

Salt Lake, USA

Liverpool John Moores University

Liverpool, United Kingdom

University of Leeds

Leeds, United Kingdom

Related Articles

Aug 18, 2023 04:28 PM IST

How to Apply for Masters in USA?

Aug 03, 2023 01:18 PM IST

Documents Required for TOEFL

Our Study Abroad Offerings

Popular Universities to StudyAbroad

Planning to study abroad?

Interested in Studying Overseas?

Connect with us and kickstart your learning journey for a rewarding experience!

By proceeding ahead you expressly agree to the CollegeDekhoAbroad Terms of Use & Privacy Policy.