The ACT Reading Test
|35 Minutes||10 Social Studies Questions
10 Natural Sciences Questions
10 Prose Fiction Questions
10 Humanities Questions
On the ACT Reading Test, you'll have 35 minutes to answer 40 questions—that's about 50 seconds per question! The section contains four passages, each followed by 10 questions.
ACT Reading Question Format
There are four categories of reading passages: Social Studies, Natural Sciences, Humanities, and Prose Fiction. You'll get one passage in each category. The passages are about 1,000 words long and are written at about the same difficulty level as college textbooks. After each passage, you'll find 10 questions.
The Social Studies, Natural Sciences, and Humanities passages are usually well-organized essays, each with a specific theme. Questions—including Specific Detail, Inference, and Big Picture questions—expect you to recognize the theme, to comprehend specific facts, and to understand the structure of the essay. Prose Fiction passages require you to understand the thoughts, feelings, and motivations of fictional characters, even when these are not explicitly stated in the passage.
Top 8 Strategies for the ACT Reading Test
- Read actively, with an eye toward where the author is going
- Don't get bogged down in the specific details of the passage
- Don't let the answer choices direct your thinking
- Always refer to the passage before choosing an answer
- Build a mental road map for all nonfiction passages - an outline of the major points covered
- Don't try to construct a mental road map for the Prose Fiction passage. Instead, pay attention to the story and the characters
- When given a specific line reference, always read a few sentences before and after the cited lines, to get a sense of the context
- Answer the easy questions for each passage first. Skip the tough ones and come back to them later
Take an ACT Reading Quiz
How will you do? Take our ACT Reading Quiz and find out.