[VIDEO ANSWER] Tips for the ACT Reading Section which emphasizes speed & comprehension
Test Prep Authority – Office Hours #1 – Question: “What is your suggested technique for handling the ACT Reading Section which emphasizes speed and comprehension?”[toggle title=”Click to Open Video Transcript” color=”gray”]What is your suggested technique for handling the ACT reading section, which emphasizes speed and comprehension? Do you save the literary section for last? Do you write notes as with outline next to paragraphs as you read? Do you skim the passage? So I will not be a show for my online program. The program is built to cover all of this strategy in extreme depth. But the very short answer is basically that when it comes to ACT reading, in particular, it’s actually very different from SAT reading. ACT reading is very referential. And what I mean by that is, on the SAT, you almost never see a question that has something like, “Why did Julie go to the store?” Or, “How many hats was the monkey wearing?” They don’t ask questions that are just research for the most part. They are very weird. “If Juliana were lying about her reasons for going to the ball, what might the author of the passage 2 say about Zoe’s reasons for going to Joanna?” It’s all kind of kind of nuts and very convoluted.
The ACT is referential. The key to understand is that you’re not going to know what they are going to ask you. They give you a ton of material, and they only ask you about very little of it. So taking notes is a horrible idea during your reading. And the reason for this is that you might take notes, and you might not use them, and you blew your time. And the biggest thing to understand is that when it comes to ACT reading, time is everything. Time is absolutely everything. It is so unbelievably blisteringly paced. So you have 35 minutes for 40 questions and that includes the four huge passages you need to read and then each passage comes with 10 questions. So you have less than a minute per question after reading this passage.
So here are your two goals really when it comes to reading this passage. One, get through it and get the main idea. Why was it written? What does it say? What’s going on? If you can answer that, you’re going to be able to answer about two or three questions right off the bat without looking back. But for the most part, the thing you’re trying to do is build a mental table of contents. And that’s the second thing. And by mental table of contents, what I mean is basically, you need to start understanding where is the stuff in the passage, so that when you read the questions, you can look back and find it quickly. So if they ask you a question like, “Why does Julie’s grandma buy the cinnamon?” You know, “Oh, wait. There was right here. That’s where the cinnamon part was.” Look back, read it, and then go back. Answer it first and then kill the wrong answers, as we already discussed.
For both the SAT and the ACT critical reading, you need to kill wrong answers rather than picking right ones. But really the whole strategy is fly through, get the main idea and figure out where stuff is so you can reference it later. If you try to thoughtfully digest an ACT reading section, you are dead. You just will not have any time left to answer the questions. And the questions aren’t going to be asking the main idea stuff. They don’t really care about your comprehension. They’re going to be saying, “What color was Mary’s dress?” “Why did Julie leave the shier?” And then you need to go back to the part where it explains that Julie was leaving, and it says, “Julie left the shier because that the people were very provincial.” And then one of the answers will be, “The people were very provincial in the shier.” So you have to look back. So just figure out where your stuff is, get the main idea, and move on. There’s a lot more to it, obviously. And, again, to be a outrageous show, I really get into this in serious depth in my online program. But the basic idea, don’t waste your time taking notes. Don’t waste your time trying to digest. Fly through, go to the questions, reference and it’s…[/toggle]