All ACT Reading Resources
Free ACT Reading Diagnostic Tests
All ACT Reading Resources
Our free ACT Reading Practice Tests are each a selection of 10 to 12 questions, which will give you a cross-section of topics from the Reading section of the official ACT. You might think of them as little quizzes, which you can use to hone your skills. Whether you need top ACT Reading tutors in Atlanta, ACT Reading tutors in Houston, or top ACT Reading tutors in San Francisco, working with a pro may take your studies to the next level.
ACT Reading Section
What does the ACT Reading section test?
The ACT Reading section tests a student’s ability to read and comprehend complex passages of fiction and nonfiction by presenting them with passages from various subject areas and asking them questions about the passages’ content. Varsity Tutors offers resources like a free ACT prep book to help with your self-paced study, or you may want to consider an ACT Reading tutor.
The ACT Reading section does not test grammar or ask you to find errors included in a passage; that material is tested on the ACT English section.
How many questions are on the ACT Reading section, and how long do I have to complete them?
The ACT Reading section consists of 40 multiple-choice reading comprehension questions, and you are given 35 minutes in which to complete them. Each ACT Reading section consists of four reading passages accompanied by ten questions each. Certain reading passages consist of long excerpts from a single work, and others consist of two shorter excerpts from different works that certain questions ask you to compare and contrast.
What kinds of passages are on the ACT Reading section?
In each ACT Reading section, one passage is drawn from prose fiction, one from the social sciences, one from the natural sciences, and one from the humanities.
How long are ACT Reading passages?
Longer excerpts on the ACT Reading section are generally around 1000 words long, while shorter excerpts that are paired together for a certain group of questions are generally around 500 words each.
What types of questions appear on the ACT Reading section?
The ACT Reading section includes a variety of reading comprehension questions. Some of the most common question types include:
1.) Identify the main idea
2.) Determine the meaning of a word in the context of the passage
3.) Identify specific details in the passage
4.) Make inferences and generalizations
5.) Determine the author’s viewpoint
6.) Compare and contrast ideas (especially in sections with two short excerpts)
7.) Analyze aspects of the passage like tone, voice, purpose, and intended audience.
How much time should I spend reading each passage / answering the questions on the ACT Reading section?
The ACT Reading section is a very time-sensitive section. You have 35 minutes in which to read four lengthy passages and answer 40 questions about them; therefore, you have 8 minutes and 45 seconds to read a passage and answer 10 questions about it. A good way to think about each passage is that if you would like to leave 5 minutes to answer the 10 questions (30 seconds per question), you should strive to read the passage carefully in just under 4 minutes.
What are some good strategies and tips for taking the ACT Reading section?
1. NEVER read the questions before reading the passage. This is the most common mistake on the ACT Reading section. It wastes valuable time and will encourage you to skip over reading essential portions of the passage.
2. Skip difficult questions and come back to them later. ACT Reading questions are NOT presented in order of difficulty; therefore, the hardest question on the whole test might be question 2, and the easiest could be question 40. Since all of the questions are worth the same number of points, it is a good idea to go through the test and do all of the easy questions before returning to particularly difficult questions that you aren’t sure about. This way, you ensure that you don’t run out of time working through harder questions and lose points by not answering easier questions that you knew the answers to but did not get to on the test.
3. Eliminate incorrect answers. Questions on the ACT Reading section are multiple-choice and each have four answer choices. Eliminating even one of the answer choices can make a huge difference. Also, it is almost always easier to spot the WORST answer to a question than to spot the BEST answer. If you can’t identify the correct answer to a question, you can still answer it confidently if you can identify the three wrong answers, leaving only one that can be correct.
Should I guess on the ACT Reading section?
Absolutely! Unlike the SAT, which calculates students’ scores based on the number of questions that they answer incorrectly, the ACT calculates students’ scores based on the number of questions students answer correctly. In other words, there is no penalty for guessing on the ACT, and guessing can only ever increase your score.
How should I study for the ACT Reading section?
Varsity Tutors offers free ACT Reading Practice Tests for you to use in preparing for the ACT's Reading section. Our free ACT Reading Practice Tests are written by teachers, professors, content specialists, and tutors. Explanations are given for each question, so if you miss a question, you can find out where you went wrong. In addition to the ACT Reading Practice Tests and ACT Reading tutoring, you may also want to consider taking some of our ACT Reading flashcards. Varsity Tutors also offers free ACT Reading Questions of the Day, as well as other free ACT Reading resources.
Another resource you may want to check out are the Full-Length ACT Reading Practice Tests. You can get an idea of your current skill level and create a personalized study plan by taking a free online Practice Test as you begin your review. Mimicking the actual ACT Reading section, these tests gives you a great opportunity to work on your timing and endurance. Just as on the concept-specific Practice Tests, the results page includes detailed explanations of each answer and links to relevant concepts. The feedback from the complete Practice Tests can assist you in streamlining your ACT review by helping you discover the ideas in which you’ve already proficient and those you may want to spend additional time reviewing. After brushing up on your knowledge using the other resources available through Varsity Tutors’ Learning Tools, take another Full-Length ACT Reading Practice Test to measure your progress and adjust your study plan.
Free ACT Reading Practice Tests