Skipping to the Questions on the ACT Reading Test

Published on Monday, July 8th, 2013 by

You may have heard an ACT reading test tactic that suggests reading the questions first, instead of reading the passages. Here are three words of advice: Don’t do it! Look at any ACT reading test and take note of how many questions make sense without the context of the passage they refer to.  In almost all of the questions, you’ll have no idea what the question is asking unless you read the passage.

If you use this tactic, you have to read the question, which has no meaning to you, then you have to refer back to the passage and try to make it make sense. You still end up having to read the passage, only this time you get the added step of reading a confusing question first.

There is no way around reading the passage. Actually, some test prep guides recommend first skipping the passage only because some students waste time with the passages. In other words, these students don’t read the passage actively. They don’t read it in a way that will help them answer the questions on the test. In that case, they may as well skip it!

You need to read through the passage as fast as you possibly can, while still understanding it. Mentally, make a note of where to find things. Oh, this is where he mentions where he is from. This is where she goes on vacation. Oh, this is where the narrator talks about the company meeting. Remember the locations of the segments of the passage and try to get a general understanding of the excerpt.

You’ll be referring back to the passage as you address each individual question, so you don’t have to memorize every line!

Completing the ACT reading test in this manner will save you time and prevent you from feeling frantic. Actively read, and make it worth your while to read the passage first.

You should only skip the passage if you are having so much trouble focusing on the text that you just can’t concentrate no matter what you do; then go ahead and skip to the questions. At least this will help you concentrate on the information that you need. Do this only after you’ve tried to read it.