Everyone gets a little jittery before a big test, but that’s totally normal! What’s important to remember is all the practicing and studying you’ve been doing, especially for something like the ACT. The ACT tests your skills, so here are some common mistakes to avoid when taking the reading section.
Reading too fast.
When you have less than forty minutes to go through all those passages and questions, you might think this is impossible. Skimming is key, right? It is, and it isn’t. Well-trained speed-reading and skimming is a very useful skill, but if you are reading so quickly that you’re not retaining information then you are going to waste time.
Not taking notes.
Taking notes, underlining, circling, making any marks at all helps you to focus on what you’re reading. This is important! It also helps guide you back to key parts of the reading quickly and effectively. Not to mention that notes help to counteract reading too quickly.
Not reading the questions beforehand.
If you understand that you’re a slower reader, not reading the questions beforehand can be detrimental. Reading for information helps dictate which portions are important. This means you can answer questions as you read rather than reading the passage, reading the questions, answering what you can, and referring back to the reading. It’s not a perfect system, but it’s better to be guided while reading than read and have to retain everything.
Ignoring differing voices in the passages.
Sometimes you’ll be given two passages narrated by different people. Other times, there might be multiple characters involved. Sometimes, a character might do or say something, but it might be unrelated to what the author believes (which is dictated in the narration). Learn to recognize shifts in perspective.
Not using the text to support your answers.
The ACT reading section is not about your opinion. Every answer has a basis in what you have just read. Therefore, it is important to leave any biases and outside knowledge of a subject at the door. Make sure that the answer you choose is supported by the text.
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