Content Covered by the ACT Reading Test

The reading test is based on four types of reading selections: the social studies, the natural sciences, literary narrative, and the humanities. The Social Studies/Sciences reading skills subscore is based on the questions on the social studies and natural sciences passages, and the Arts/Literature reading skills subscore is based on the questions on the literary narrative and humanities passage.

  • Social Studies (25%). Questions in this category are based on passages in the content areas of anthropology, archaeology, biography, business, economics, education, geography, history, political science, psychology, and sociology.
  • Natural Sciences (25%). Questions in this category are based on passages in the content areas of anatomy, astronomy, biology, botany, chemistry, ecology, geology, medicine, meteorology, microbiology, natural history, physiology, physics, technology, and zoology.
  • Literary Narrative (25%) or Prose Fiction (25%). Questions in the Literary Narrative category are based on passages from short stories, novel, memoirs, and personal essays. Questions in the Prose Fiction category are based on passages from short stories and novels.
  • Humanities (25%). Questions in this category are based on passages in the content areas of architecture, art, dance, ethics, film, language, literary criticism, music, philosophy, radio, television, and theater. Questions may be based on passages from memoirs and personal essays.

NOTE
Literary Narrative is a broad category incorporating both prose fiction and literary non-fiction such as memoirs and personal essays. Each reading test will contain a passage from either the Literary Narrative or Prose Fiction category.

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