Take Control: Play to Your Strengths on the ACT Reading Section

Hey, guess what? Nobody’s watching over your shoulder as you take the ACT. And that means when it comes to the reading passages, you get to pick which one you read first.

The ACT always includes four readings, always in the same order: prose, social science, humanities and natural science. Now, most students (I’d say 99%) do the readings in the order given. It makes sense, right? Wrong!

Often students are strongest with the natural science readings and weakest with the narratives (prose). Science readings usually contain short paragraphs and are detailed-oriented. These science readings are a gift — easy-to-find answers, no thorough reading required.

Narratives, on the other hand, can be time-consuming. This is because students have to focus on the story as a whole while also looking for character and plot development. Many students spend too much time on this one passage, and barely get to the other three.

Why waste all of your time on your weakness rather than focusing on your strengths? Switch it up! Maybe you should begin with the natural science, then tackle your next strongest type of reading, and save the narrative for last.

In order to make this tactic work, you have to do some homework. Practice MANY readings and assess your results. Maybe the humanities passage is your downfall, or maybe it’s social science. Once you know where you shine and where you are weaker, you can create your own customized strategy.

Hey, sometimes it pays to break unwritten rules!

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