ACT Reading: The Four S’s

Chalk Talk #49

Are your students scoring college ready in Reading on the ACT? These tips and tricks from our ACT Boot Camp will increase your students’ scores and help them tackle the Reading section with confidence.

Unlike the Math or Science portions of the test, the answer to every ACT Reading question is contained in the content of the passages–it just takes some sleuthing to find the correct answers. Though it is tempting to thoroughly read each passage from beginning to end, there is simply not enough time. Students should spend 8 minutes on each passage in order to get through the test in its entirety. Therefore, the key to acing the ACT Reading test is to learn how to skim and scan passages and to use support and scope for selecting answers; aka the Four S’s.

 The Four S’s:

Skimming: Skimming a passage requires you to read the passage very quickly, only looking for the most important information. The easiest way to do this is to read the first sentence of each paragraph and just look at the rest of the words without carefully reading them.

Scanning: Scanning a passage is the way you search the passage to find information you need to answer a question. The easiest way to do this is to move your finger over every word until you find what you need.  

Support: Support always comes from the passage, and it is used to pick a correct answer. The easiest way to find support is to scan the passage before selecting any answers.

Scope: Scope is the section of the passage that contains the correct answer. A choice may be supported, but if it doesn’t answer the question, the choice is out of scope and is not the right answer. The easiest way to find the correct scope is to stay in the same paragraph as the support you found during your scan.   

By doing these four things, your students can get through each passage with ease and see an increase in their Reading scores. Keep in mind that above all, it’s a reading comprehension test, and no number of reading strategies can overcome poor reading skills.

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