Improve ACT Reading Scores with 5 Must-Know Tips

During our development of our curriculums, we uncovered some pretty radical notions about the reading portion of the ACT. We want to share our favorite 5 with your students to help prepare them come test day.

1.) Take Lots of Practice Tests

The key to doing well on the ACT is to take several practice tests. For best results, we recommend 8–10 practice tests, but at least take 5. This allows students to get a proper feel for the test, understand what the questions are really asking, and help learn to pace for the real ACT.

2.) Simplify
Students will come across questions that are confusing or that seem like they are trying to trip them up. In those situations, the best thing they can do is simplify the question. Teach students to figure out what the question is asking and rephrase it in simpler terms so they can focus on finding the answer.

3.) Establish the Author’s Point of View
Students typically struggle with the reading test because they project their own point of view onto the passages. The best way to understand the questions and know how to answer them is to first establish what the author is trying to communicate.

4.) Pick Your Passage
If you teach students to apply our first tip, your students will have taken several practice tests before the test day. By doing this, they’ll have a good idea of what to expect on the ACT reading test, and know which type of passage is easiest for to read and answer. When they take the real ACT, encourage them to start with this passage. For instance, if they’re most comfortable with the Natural Science passage, answering these questions first will give them extra time to work through the more difficult passages.

5.) Move On
Remember that the ACT reading test is timed. With 35 minutes total, students only have about 8 minutes to work on each passage. This means that pacing is extremely important. Students absolutely need to move on after they’ve spent 8 minutes on a passage, even if they haven’t answered all of the questions. Since there’s no penalty for wrong answers, their best course of action if time is running out is to make an educated guess and move on to the next passage.

If applied, these 5 tips can help improve your students’ ACT reading test scores. They are simple tips that anyone can use, but they require practice so that they can become routine.

We know the ACT reading test is difficult, but if you prepare your students with the tips, tricks, and techniques we share on our blog and in our one-day Boot Camps, they will be better suited to achieve the score they desire on the ACT reading test and the ACT test overall.