Acing your act
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Acing Your ACT. Strategies and Tips to help you score your best!. Four-Step System for Reading a Passage. 1. Scan the questions for LEAD WORDS and PHRASES. Look for and underline the 2 or 3 key words that tell you what each question is really about.

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Acing Your ACT

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Acing your act

Acing Your ACT

Strategies and Tips to help you score your best!


Four step system for reading a passage

Four-Step System for Reading a Passage

1. Scan the questions for LEAD WORDS and PHRASES.

  • Look for and underline the 2 or 3 key words that tell you what each question is really about.

  • Do you know what you are looking for while you read?

  • Move fast! This should take about 30 seconds for all questions related to the passage.

  • Example: (Social Studies) Q: The author states that the common law differs from the civil law in that…

  • What are the key words/phrases?

    • Common law

    • Civil law


Four step system for reading a passage1

Four-Step System for Reading a Passage

2. Scan the passage for LEAD WORDS and PHRASES.

  • Quickly sweep your eyes over the passage and underline any lead words you see.

  • Again, this should take about 30 seconds for all questions related to the passage.

  • Don’t get distracted by reading for meaning at this point – just look for key words.

  • Example: (Science) Q: As described in the passage, Giotto’s camera was specifically programmed to…

  • What are the key words/phrases?

    • Giotto’s camera

    • Programmed

  • In passage: “This circumstance and other of the photograph's features largely reflect the ‘instructions’ that were given to the Giotto camera, which had been systematically programmed to track the brightest feature in its visual field.”


Four step system for reading a passage2

Four-Step System for Reading a Passage

3. SKIM and SCRIBBLE.

  • Quickly read the entire passage. For each paragraph, ask yourself “What, basically, is this paragraph about?”

  • Answer that question in 2 or 3 words in the margin. Focus more on the first two sentences of each paragraph than on the remainder. This should take about 60 seconds.

  • Pay attention to words that signal a change in direction:

    • Despite, however, in spite of, nonetheless, on the other hand, but, rather, yet, ironically, notwithstanding, unfortunately, on the contrary, therefore, hence, consequently


Four step system for reading a passage3

Four-Step System for Reading a Passage

4. Practice the QUESTION LOOP.

  • Read the question carefully. If it is confusing, reword it so you know what you should be looking for.

  • Return to the appropriate portion of the passage and read that carefully.

  • Try to formulate your own answer, then go back to the question and pick the answer choice that most resembles your answer. This should take about 40 seconds per question.

  • Beware of distractors (more on this later). If nothing looks right, try eliminating choices you know are wrong.


Work consulted

Work Consulted

Rutzel, Liz, et al. Cracking the ACT. New York: Random

House, 2012. Print.


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