ACT Reading Passage Types | What To Expect

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Be ready for the ACT Reading section by knowing the kinds of things you’ll be reading. Here are the ACT Reading passage types to expect on test day.

When approaching the ACT Reading section, there are a number of helpful test hacks that will help you finish faster and accurately when practiced.

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4 ACT Reading Passage Types

Here are the four ACT reading passages types.

Each one consists of around 800 words each. Always expect them in this order:

  • Prose Fiction
  • Social Science
  • Humanities
  • Natural Science

After each corresponding passage, you’ll then have to answer 10 questions testing what was directly stated, as well as meanings implied within the text.

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ACT Reading Passage Types In A Nutshell

 
ACT Reading Passage Types Format/Topics What To Expect
Prose Fiction
  • Excerpts from novels or short stories
  • Passages:
  • contemporary in nature
  • emphasize diversity
  • emphasize family relationships
  • Descriptions involving the atmosphere, setting, and character relationships taking precedent over facts
  • Expect questions asking you to identify implied meanings vs direct statements.
Social Science
  • Topics To Expect:
  • Anthropology
  • Archaeology
  • Biography
  • Business
  • Economics
  • Education
  • Geography
  • History
  • Political Science
  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • A clear organization with topic sentences connected by transitions to develop the main idea
  • The author may present a specific point of view or deliver facts in a neutral tone
Humanities
  • Excerpts from memoirs or personal essays
  • Topics To Expect:
  • Architecture
  • Art
  • Dance
  • Ethics
  • Film
  • Language
  • Literary Criticism
  • Music
  • Philosophy
  •  Radio
  • Television
  • Theater
  • Looser, organic narrative development
  • Expect a more personal and emotional tone
Natural Science
  • Topics To Expect:
  • Anatomy
  • Astronomy
  • Biology
  • Botany
  • Chemistry
  • Ecology
  • Geology
  • Medicine
  • Meteorology
  • Microbiology
  • Natural History
  • Physiology
  • Physics
  • Technology
  • Zoology
  • Lots of details including technical descriptions
  • A clear organization with topic sentences and transitions developing the main idea
  • The author may or may not present an opinion
  • Questions usually stick close to the text, requiring little inference

 

Additional ACT Reading Tips And Strategy Articles

Click on the links below for more tips on cracking this ACT test section:

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