Tip #17 to Get a Top ACT English Reading Science Score
Every reading passage is introduced by a few lines that begin in bold and tell you about the passage. Many students say, "I just skip those lines to save time." But the lines can be very useful; read them carefully. They give away lots of info, sometimes even get the main idea of the passage.
First, the lines tell you which of the four types of ACT passages you are about to read. Knowing the type gives you a bit of a hint:
- Prose fiction, which just means fiction, or stories, will definitely be followed by questions about characters' feelings and relationships.
- Social science and humanities passages are essays about things like history or art and will be followed by questions about details in the passage and about the writer's beliefs.
- Natural science passages will be about sciency stuff, but will NOT expect you to know any science; everything will be explained in the passage, and questions will ask about details in the passage.
After telling you the type of passage, the intro lines give the title of the passage and occasionally a brief summary or note about a character. This gives away a ton of info and even helps you anticipate and therefore better understand the passage, which will help you stay focused while you read. (This is also a great strategy when reading your high school history text or your future college philosophy books; the intro sentences or italics can tell you a lot.)
Each of the following is a bold intro to an ACT reading passage. What can you conclude from each?
- PROSE FICTION: This passage is adapted from the novel Winson's Tuna Casserole by D. A. Booch. The story is set in the mid-1990s in Hoboken, New Jersey, where the narrator and her friend have moved after graduating college.
- SOCIAL SCIENCE: This passage is adapted from Josh Kutchai's biography American Hero: The Story of Martin Luther King Jr.
- HUMANITIES: This passage is adapted from the essay "Will Farrell: America's Jester or Clowning Genius" by Ian Curtis, which appeared in The Noynek University Review.
- NATURAL SCIENCE: This passage is adapted from Life on Other Planets by Isaac Schmumpkins. The narrator is Galileo Galilee, an astronomer, philosopher, and mathematician.
- SOCIAL SCIENCE: This passage is adapted from Ron Hanake's Darkest Night: America's Comic Book Obsession.
- HUMANITIES: This passage, which describes a young man's search for his sister, is adapted from the essay "The Post-War Years: Rebuilding and Reconnecting" by Justin Farmer-Van Wort.
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