ACT Reading Hacks To Finish Faster

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Reading shouldn’t be scary, right? Unfortunately, kids sometimes get scared by the ACT Reading section. They overthink it and trip themselves up. Stop stressing, there are ACT Reading hacks available that will make it so much easier.

Sharpen your reading skills with these ACT Reading hacks designed to ace that section.

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ACT reading hacks

Get Familiar With Test Structure

Start off with understanding what you’ll be facing on the Reading section.

The ACT Reading section is a 35-minute test that starts immediately after one 15-minute break. Use that break to breathe and relax, in order to refocus on this new section. The section is comprised of:

  • Four reading passages
  • 10 questions per passage

Each question has four possible answer choices available. Regarding the sections themselves, they are always presented in the same order:

  • Prose Fiction
  • Social Studies
  • Humanities
  • Natural Sciences

However, you don’t have to complete those sections in that order. If you want to skip around, saving harder ones for last, that’s perfectly acceptable.

Read What’s In Front Of You

Don’t look past what’s on the page in front of you.

Once again, you will deal with four different passage selections:

  • Prose Fiction
  • Social Studies
  • Humanities
  • Natural Science

It’s likely that a couple of the passages will be completely new to you, i.e. historic speeches, unknown author, etc. The key here is don’t panic. Unlike other tests you’ve encountered, you DO NOT need outside knowledge to handle these questions.

Everything you need to answer the questions is within the passages already. That’s the point of this entire section – to test your ability to read presented information and derive answers from interpretation.

Don’t stress over not knowing the context of a passage; just read it, keep the information in mind, and then tackle the associated questions.

Trust The Process Of Elimination

Cross out what you know is wrong.

Each ACT Reading question presents you with four answer choices. Only one is correct. That means you can immediately start crossing out choices, instead of trying to guess which one is correct.

The key here is to find the flaw in each choice. Sometimes a single word can throw the entire choice off…if you’re paying close attention.

If everything else looks good but a word throws it off, then cross it out. It’s easier to get to the answer if you can reduce your choices by half immediately.

Skim Passages To Save Time

Don’t be afraid to skim the passages for information.

The Reading test is rigorously timed, so it’s easy to accidentally burn precious minutes away. To give yourself more answering time, consider skimming. Here’s how:

  • Read the First and Last Paragraphs first
  • Read the Topic Sentence of each body paragraph

Once done, go back and answer the line-cited questions; they’ll require you to drop back into the passage itself and read the specific referenced lines. After that, go back and answer the remaining general questions.

Read Passages Out Of Order

Do your best passages first, then come back for the worst ones.

As you work through ACT practice tests, you’ll start to notice which passage types are easier or harder. Once you have some practice tests completed, go back and rank the passage types from easiest to hardest.

With that knowledge in hand, you now know the order to answer them on the actual test. The idea is to do the ones that you know you can ace the fastest, in order to leave extra time for the harder ones.

However, be sure to pay close attention to your Scantron sheet and question booklet, in order to avoid accidentally answering questions with the wrong passage answers.

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