Reading Section of the ACT
The ACT Reading section
lasts 35 minutes and contains 40 questions. This section presents you with passages and then asks you multiple choice questions that test your reading comprehension skills. Can you correctly understand and interpret passages on a variety of subjects? Can you interpret the meaning both of small details and major theme in a passage? Can you analyze author’s purpose and tone? These are kinds of skills that the Reading section assesses.
The actual test will present you with four subsections: three will have longer passages, while one will have two paired passages. The subsections will come from four different subject areas and they always appear in the same order:
1. Prose Fiction/Literary Narrative: These are the kinds of fiction passages you’re probably encountering all the time in English class, including passages from literary memoirs.
2. Social Science: Nonfiction passages on soft sciences areas, like psychology, sociology, and education.
3. Humanities: This is a broad topic area that includes both personal nonfiction pieces like essays and memoirs and also nonfiction pieces on the arts, literature, and philosophy.
4. Natural Science: Nonfiction passages about hard sciences topics like biology, chemistry, physics, and medicine.
Any of the four topic areas could contain the paired passages, although it seems like literary fiction and humanities are the most frequent areas where you’ll see them.