ACT Reading Development of Ideas

ACT Reading: Development of Ideas

Being able to identify and organize the ideas in a reading passage is crucial to doing well on the ACT Reading section. In development of ideas questions, you’ll be given a reading passage and you’ll have to add, change, or delete a sentence from the passage. Being able to identify a passage’s purpose, or main idea, as well as the flow of ideas and supporting evidence is important. Get plenty of test prep to ensure you master this and every ACT question type.

 

Strategy

  • Read the passage first.

    Deciphering the purpose of a passage is the most important step to answering development of ideas questions. Reading the questions, not to mention the answer choices, will only distract you from this crucial task.

  • Read all the answer choices.

    Don’t choose the first answer that seems right. Development of ideas questions are looking for you to choose the BEST answer. Although choice A may seem good, choice D might be absolutely perfect.

  • Take notes.

    Taking notes will ensure that you’re actively reading the passage. You should note the passage’s purpose and any important supporting details. Being a master at reading and taking notes quickly will take a good amount of test prep.

  • Don’t read for the details.

    You should read for the main idea, not for the details, in any passage. Trying to memorize the details will only slow you down. More likely than not, too, you won’t be asked about a specific detail. And if you are, you’ll be able to find it easily if you’re being an active reader.

Development Practice Questions

Not so many years ago, if you walked through a high school study center or a college dorm, you would hear the distinctive click of typewriter keys as students got their work done. Typewriters were also used in offices everywhere. Walking through these places today, however, it is likely that not one of the students you see busily typing are using a typewriter.

With a computer’s word processing program, there is no penalty for making a mistake or for changing your mind. Text can be written, revised, copied or deleted. Deleted text is never lost; it can be returned at the click of the mouse controlling the computer’s cursor.

Question 1: Which choice would act as the most effective transition at the end of Paragraph 1?

A. NO CHANGE

B. Computers operate very similarly to typewriters.

C. Computers have word processing programs designed to make essay writing easier.

D. Why would anyone want to use a typewriter when a computer is a superior machine?

 

Our task is to find the best transition between the two paragraphs. When you read it the passage as is, was the transition smooth? It wasn’t—paragraph 1 is only about typewriters and paragraph 2 is only about computers, so we should eliminate A immediately. Now, let’s find the best transition from typewriters to computers. Is B a good choice? It’s not since paragraph 2 discusses how a computer is much different than a typewriter. Could C be the right answer? It could, so let’s keep it as a choice for now. How about D? Yes, D is also a good choice. But, which choice is better: C or D? D’s better because it provides the smoothest transition between the two paragraphs. It refers to the last sentence of paragraph 1 (“not one of the students you see busily typing is using a typewriter”) by asking why anyone would want to use a typewriter, and it introduces the main topic of paragraph 2, the benefits of using a computer.