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Kristin Fracchia

TuesdACT Video: Ways to Boost Your Reading Score


ACT Reading Practice: How to Improve Your ACT Reading Comprehension

In this episode of TuesdACT, we’re talking about how to improve your ACT Reading score without actually practicing with ACT questions. So basically that means working on your reading. It can often take some time to see the fruits of your labor when you are focusing on reading comprehension, but this TuesdACT video aims to give you some little nuggets of knowledge to help you see results a little more quickly by making sure you are reading the right materials (those that are most like the ACT) and the right things (the things the ACT tests students on all the time.)

Here are some of my favorite sources for reading materials that are similar to the passages you will find on the ACT:

For Non-Fiction:

All of the following news magazines are available both in print and online, and they all contain interesting articles at the same reading level you could expect on the ACT.


For Fiction:

The best resource you have at your fingertips is probably whatever books or plays you are currently studying in English class as you are studying for the ACT (maximize those gains!).

What to do as you read the above materials:

The ACT repeatedly tests students on three things: main idea, structure, and author’s attitude/tone. By focusing on these three concepts from the moment you begin reading a passage, you will retain more as you read and be better prepared for the ACT questions that will follow.

Here’s exactly what to do when you sit down with an article from one of the resources above:

  1. Print it out so you can practice annotating it (actively underlining important points). It is important to get in the habit of this, so it becomes second nature on the ACT.
  2. Pause after each paragraph to:
    • determine the main idea of that paragraph.
    • evaluate the author’s tone/attitude toward his or her topic.
    • determine the evolving structure of the passage (how does the previous paragraph relate to the current one?) HINT: pay extra special attention to transition words and phrases, such as “on the other hand,” “for example,” or “in addition.”
  3. Jot down the main idea of the entire piece after you finish reading.
  4. Jot down the author’s overall purposes in writing the piece. Is she trying to persuade readers to agree with her argument? To inform them about an important topic? To describe opposing sides of an issue?

The more you practice this, the easier it will become on the ACT to see these three key concepts: main idea, structure, and tone, and you will be shocked at how many questions you will then be able to confidently answer with barely a glance back at the passage or maybe you won’t even need to look at all!

And, as a bonus, you’ll learn some interesting things along the way. Wins all around.


About Kristin Fracchia

Kristin makes sure Magoosh's blogs are chock-full of awesome, free resources for students preparing for standardized tests. With a PhD from UC Irvine and degrees in Education and English, she’s been working in education since 2004 and has helped students prepare for standardized tests, as well as college and graduate school admissions, since 2007. She enjoys the agonizing bliss of marathon running, backpacking, hot yoga, and esoteric knowledge.

2 Responses to “TuesdACT Video: Ways to Boost Your Reading Score”

  1. Gloria says:

    Can I read the Atlantic or the newsweek instead?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert Magoosh Test Prep Expert says:

      Hi Gloria,

      Definitely! Those are great sources of reading practice. If you have access to them, especially The Atlantic, we highly recommend reading there, too! 🙂

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