How to Get a 36 on ACT Reading

How to Get a 36 on ACT Reading: The Ultimate Guide

So, you are finally here, staring your destiny in the face. You have finally taken the leap. The challenge beckoned, and you have answered: you have decided that you want to achieve a perfect score on your ACT Reading section.

How to Get a 36 on ACT Reading

In this ACT Reading review, you can learn valuable strategies and critical information that will help you conquer the ACT Reading section. Not only will you find information to help you make the jump from a 32 or 33 to a 36, but you will also find strategies that can help you improve your reading skills for life beyond the test, like for the first day of college.

Achieving a perfect 36 on the ACT Reading test is no easy feat. Most students will never get near a 36, let alone dream of achieving the score. But you are here, which means you can already taste it.

How far are you willing to go?

Getting a perfect 36 can mean changing your entire test-taking strategy. A perfect 36 means adjusting the way you think about complex passages. Achieving perfection means putting in hard work and long hours. If you are willing to do that – then let’s take the leap.

Some people question the value of a perfect score on any test. They look at the 36 and think “why would anyone ever need that?”

The truth is that most students don’t; many students will never need a 36 for the schools that they want to attend. The average ACT score is a 20, which means many schools settle for scores lower than 36. However, to get into top tier schools you need to be competitive, and that means getting perfect scores on tests like the ACT.

A perfect score is something that can set a student apart when they are applying to a fiercely competitive school. The goal is to have your score work for you, not to have to work harder in your application to make up for a low score. Getting a 36 on your ACT can increase your chances of acceptance to those hard-to-reach schools. It only takes one look at the average ACT scores of students admitted to schools like Harvard and Yale to understand the actual value of a 36 on the test.

Take Harvard for example. The average Harvard student scores a 34 overall on their ACT. The 25th percentile score is a 32, and the 75th percentile score is a 35. That means that a perfect score can would set you in the top 25th percentile of applicants at Harvard. Just imagine what a 36 could do for applications to other schools!

It is a rough world out there for a student applying to college, but a perfect score on the ACT can lighten that weight. That is why this guide exists: to help you study and alleviate the burden of studying for the ACT. By the end, you will know how to get a 36 on ACT Reading.

Let’s get started by talking about some general information for the test.

Four Major Subjects

The ACT Reading test has four subjects: Humanities, Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, and Prose/Literary Fiction. All ACT Reading questions will come from one of these four major topics.

These subjects break down into even smaller categories. For ACT studying, you should focus on understanding how each subject will frame their questions.

Prose/Literary Fiction passages focus on excerpts from novels and other prose writing. These questions test your understanding of literary elements in the passage.

This section is going to focus mostly on three types of questions:

• Using the information in the text to make an inference about the author’s point of view, a character’s motives, or the connection between ideas in the text.

• Interpreting the tone of the text from the diction, description, and literary devices used in the text.

• Determining the theme of the text from the subject matter discussed in the passage.

Prose and Literary Fiction might seem confusing –these questions are designed to trick you. There will only be one possible tone, theme, or meaning that fits perfectly with the passage. The other answers will have something wrong with them, so the answer is not subjective.

Natural Sciences includes passages about sciences like biology, physics, and chemistry. These questions will center on the interpretation of the passage’s main idea or identifying evidence in the text.

These questions are straightforward because they focus so closely on the text and the answers in it. Like the rest of the test, there will be a correct answer that you can find evidence for from the text.

Don’t worry about your prior knowledge; the Natural Sciences section doesn’t test you on your content knowledge, but rather on your ability to read and analyze text to find evidence.

Social Sciences are similar to the natural sciences section in their focus. You will be asked to explain two things from the text: how the passage describes the main idea or the author’s viewpoint(for example, which statement would the author of the passage agree with?).

The answers to these questions will be directly related to the information found in the body of the text. As with natural sciences questions, don’t worry if you don’t know much about the subject – it is your reading skills they are testing, not your knowledge of historical events or psychological phenomena.

Humanities is similar to Literary Fiction. Humanities passages focus on art, media, and philosophy. In this section, the questions will have you determine the tone of the passage or explain the viewpoint of the passage.

The most important point to remember?

The ACT Reading section focuses on your reading skills, not on content knowledge or any understanding that exists outside of the passage. All of the information you need is in the passage, so don’t worry. It is entirely possible to get a 36 on ACT Reading–it is all in the test.

How does the Scoring Work?

The ACT Reading section has 40 multiple-choice questions that you have 35 minutes to complete. If you are doing the math, you will find you have less than a minute for each question and that doesn’t include the time it takes to read the texts. Speed is a must.

The reading test is broken down into four sections: three that have a single long passage, and one that has two shorter passages.

The texts themselves are supposed to reflect the types of reading a first-year college student would encounter. That way, the ACT scores going to the colleges are considered useful.

A key to scoring 36 on ACT Reading is to understand raw scores. To score a 36 on the Reading section, you have to get a perfect raw score. Let’s look at the raw to scaled score breakdown:

Scaled Score Raw Score Reading
36 40
35 39
34 38
32 37
31 36
30 35
29 34
28 33
27 32
26 31

You will notice that if you miss just one of the 40 questions, then your scaled score will drop from a 36 to a 35. That means you have to get every question right if you want to ace this section.

Not all of the tests run by this strict scale, but it is best to assume that if you want to score that perfect 36, you will have to strive for a perfect raw score – meaning you get 40 out of 40 questions right on the test.

You might be looking at the raw score and thinking, “That’s crazy, there is no way I can plan to get a perfect score!”

Relax. You can get a perfect score. It is possible. A 36 is a tall order, but it is attainable. Figuring out how to get a 36 on ACT Reading might just require a little bit of ACT cramming.

There can be only One

At this point, you might be wondering how you can expect to get all of the questions right.

We’ve been trained in school to look at reading and interpretation as subjective, but the reality of the ACT is that there is always a correct answer to the question. The test is designed to be objective so that it won’t discriminate against people based on any factor other than reading ability.

Formal education has taught us that there is never just one answer to a complicated question. In many English classes, there is no single right answer when you analyze a text–that is why we write essays with various viewpoints to construct the best answer because there is no single right answer. That isn’t how the ACT works.

You can’t get caught up by the idea that there might be multiple correct answers. When you look at ACT questions, there is one right answer supported by specific evidence from the passage. If you read carefully, you will always be able to determine which of the four choices is correct based on the information from the reading.

The test will seek to fool you, but there is only one answer choice supported by evidence. Three of the four might seem correct, but those answer choices will have serious issues that you can identify by looking into the passage.

The ACT has a particular system. It is designed to make students identify, through reading skills, which of the choices is the only correct answer instead of having to determine the best answer from many correct answers.

If you are ready to crack that system and learn how to score a 36 on ACT Reading, then this is the guide for you. Using the ACT Reading strategies in this guide is the first step of many to scoring that 36.

So, how can you get a 36 on the ACT Reading? Follow these eight strategies, and you will be well on your way.

8 Strategies for “How to get a 36 on ACT Reading.”

Strategy 1: Practice, Practice, Practice

If you are seriously wondering how to get a 36 on the ACT Reading section, then your first and best tool is going to be practice.

We practice everything from free throws in basketball to smiling in the mirror before a picture, but when it comes to tests, we commonly feel we shouldn’t have to study. We are either smart or not, we can either pass or not, we either know the material or we don’t. But that isn’t true!

Tests, like everything else in life, can be overcome with determination and hard work. You hone your test-taking skills through the amount of time you are willing to put into taking practice exams and questions. Practicing your test-taking skills will allow you to cut down on wasted time and avoid second-guessing yourself.

If you want to know how to get a 36 on ACT Reading, you need to practice.

Part of the reason that this is the first strategy is that it underscores all of the other strategies. None of them will make any difference unless you are committed to serious practice. That means between now and your test you have to commit time, talent, and energy to taking the test.


Many students don’t spend the amount of time they need to do well on the test. I would recommend that you spend at least 5 hours a week practicing for the various parts of the ACT.

Those 5 hours a week are a general guideline for improving your score. If you have roughly six weeks to your test date and you need to raise your score by 4 points, you will need to study around 30 hours. If you have more time or need to improve by less, the time commitment will vary. For more information on the amount of time necessary to improve scores by a set amount check out this article on the blogs page.

There is no limit on the amount of time you can devote to practicing, and the better prepared you are for the test, the better you will do. The test affects your future, so make sure you devote the time you need to pass.


Practicing isn’t about spending endless hours in drill and kill to produce some magical test-taking power (worst power ever!). It is about sharpening your skills and talents that already exist.

Recognizing the skills that you possess is a fundamental component in preparing for the test. If you are a master at speed reading or identifying the main idea of paragraphs in a cinch, then you should devote time to improving those abilities. The talents you possess if developed can provide a good deal of advantage over the test.

If you bring your talent to your practice of the test, you will do better in the long run. It might be tedious to work on something you are already gifted in, but it could make a huge difference on the actual test. If you work on your speed reading gift until it becomes second nature, it could give you the edge to get the 36. You can’t predict the test, but honing your talents will help you conquer to the test.


The energy you put into testing can significantly affect your ability to pull off a perfect score. If you don’t take practice situations seriously by using your full speed and being mentally awake, you will fail to meet your full potential during practice.

That is why you must be serious and engaged in your practice. Don’t go into it half-hearted–commit and use all of your energy. If you don’t put yourself into the mindset that each practice test is an actual test, you will never commit the way you need to for that perfect 36.

Practice Materials

The only problem with practicing so much is that you might run out of materials to use.

There are not many officially released practice exams – ACT has only released five tests:

2015-2016, 2014-2015, 2011-2012, 2008-2009, 2005-2006

There is also the digital practice test here.

These tests are going to be the best resources for you to use if you want to improve your score to a 36 in Reading, so don’t use them up too quickly. These tests should be used to assess your abilities accurately.

Think of the practice exams as milestones that mark your progress over time. Look at the amount of time you have until you take the test, and space the practice tests out evenly over that time.

The practice tests won’t cut it for your practice if you want to be perfect. You will need to find many extra resources if you want to improve to the point where taking the test is second nature, something that you will need if you want to get that 36.

You can find some great resources for practice on the website. These include many practice tests, along with questions categorized by difficulty and subject. These questions are specifically designed to mirror those on the ACT and are one of the best resources you can use to pursue your perfect score. Practicing for your 36 on ACT Reading starts here.

Some other resources exist including practice books and other websites. Regardless of the site or system you use, you will want to ensure that you are practicing your reading skills for improvement. Aimless practice isn’t enough, you’ve got to think while you do it. That is where our second strategy comes into play.

Strategy 2: Use Metacognition to Assess Your Weaknesses

Practice within itself isn’t enough to help you improve your scores substantially. In the same way as practicing a long jump or your part in the orchestra concert incorrectly doesn’t help you improve, if you practice your ACT Reading skills incorrectly, you will not improve.

How do you get a 36 on ACT Reading section? You must be reflective and possess the ability to assess your weaknesses.

Metacognition, the skill of analyzing your thinking, is essential to practicing your reading skills correctly. Every time you miss a question, it’s important to not only recognize that you missed it, but understand why you missed it and how you can change your thinking to get it right next time.

A good habit to get into is tracking your responses to questions. As you take your practice exams or work through individual questions, keep track of the items you aren’t sure are correct. This way, even if you manage to get the right answer by chance, you can look back at what the question was asking later.

Earlier we broke down the reading section by subject. Each of those subjects will ask you to do something different, like identify tone or infer meaning. If you are keeping track of the questions you weren’t sure about, you will have the chance to go back and work on the specific skills required in those test items.

You might be thinking, “if I only got the question right by luck, then how will I know what to change?”

That’s why this article is here. You can ask metacognitive questions like: How did I approach this question? Did I understand what the question was asking me to do? Why was my answer right? What about the other answers is wrong?

By working through those metacognitive questions, you can push yourself further in understanding your problems. Going further means pushing yourself to understand the deeper issues associated with your mistakes.

For example, instead of coming up with a simple explanation like “I misread the question,” you should push yourself and ask further questions like why did I misread? How can I make a change so I don’t miss questions like this in the future?

At this point, you might be asking yourself if the 36 is worth it.

Yes, it is, and yes, you can do it. This type of studying is time-consuming, and it requires a lot from you, but you’ve already taken the first step and showing up is half the battle. The road to the 36 is not an easy one, and you will have to push yourself further than what is normal.

Coming up with your explanation for why the right answer is right, and why the wrong answers are wrong is essential to growth. Only use answer explanations provided in study guides after you have already struggled through and produced a result that makes sense.

That struggle, trying to explain the reasoning behind right and wrong answers, is what will lead you to the most growth as a reader. So don’t take the easy way out and just read the explanations first, instead challenge yourself to figure out the reason why the answers are right or wrong.

Understanding how you approach questions will allow you to correct your weaknesses focus on your strengths. Once you can understand your weaknesses you can start to work on our 3rd strategy.

Strategy 3: Diagnose Your Weaknesses and Fix them

As you identify your weaknesses, you should begin to track a pattern in the question types. Figure out which question types you have trouble with.

The questions will ask you to focus on six specific parts of reading comprehension. Let’s talk about the six different kinds of questions, and as a bonus, let’s use some of the example questions found on the website.

1. Vocabulary Questions: What is the meaning of this word in the passage?

Vocabulary questions will often focus on the context or meaning of a word within a passage. If you have background knowledge, that can help, but everything you need to answer the question will be in the passage. There is no guessing or outside knowledge required.

Here is an example of a vocabulary specific question from the website. The passage and question focus on a speech by Robert Kennedy after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

Question: Based on the context clues provided in the passage, Aeschylus was what type of poet?

A. Roman

B. British

C. Greek

D. American

This question is typical of a vocabulary item. It focuses on understanding the meaning of a word based on the context of the passage. In this case, you will need to read the entire passage to understand the cultural origin of Aeschylus in the context of the passage.

You can begin to rule out answers by looking at the context of the passage. D is the first answer choice to rule out; it wouldn’t make much sense for Americans to look to American culture to learn where to go next.

A and B are possible answers, but neither Roman or British culture appear in the text, which leads us to the understanding that Aeschylus must be Greek, a cultural group that Kennedy references in the speech.

Correct answer: C

Using context, the information around the word, we were able to ascertain the origin of the name and answer the question.

If you are weak in vocabulary-based questions, this would be a good place to start practicing. Understanding context clues is a skill you have to practice to develop.

2. Detail Questions: What does this specific detail mean? How does this particular detail change the tone of the passage?

Continuing to look at the speech by Robert Kennedy we can see an example of a question on the specific details of a line from the speech.

Question: According to Kennedy, what do the majority of people, regardless of their skin color, want for those living in the United States?

A. Happiness, love, compassion

B. Justice, love, peace

C. Freedom, justice, unity

D. Unity, improvement, justice

If we are looking for specific details, in this case, the three terms or ideas listed in the answers, we have to scour the passage for a particular line.

If we look at lines 40-42, we can find the specific answer to the question. Kennedy says that white and black Americans want “to live together,” “to improve the quality of life,” and “justice for all human beings.”

Answer D is the only one found in the text in the same order and style of the answer. In the text, Kennedy calls for unity, improvement, and justice.

Correct answer: D

Often with specific detail questions, you will be able to find the correct answer directly in the passage. It is a good idea to understand when the question is asking you for a specific detail, and then search the text for that detail.

If you have a weakness in identifying and understanding the specifics of a passage, you will want to work on developing the skill of skimming or searching quickly through passages for the details and evidence that show the answer in the passage. The great thing about clear answers being present in the text is that once you practice finding answers, it will become much easier over time.

3. Inference Questions: What can you infer about the author or character based on the passage? How would the author/character feel about this situation?

Inference questions will always focus on using clues in the text to form an understanding of something not stated explicitly in the passage.

“Wait” you might say, “I thought that all questions dealt with evidence from the text?”

Don’t worry, that rule still holds. Even if the information you are inferring isn’t in the text, the clues that you use are in the text.

Here is a question from the Kennedy speech that deals with inferences:

Question: It can be inferred from the speech that Kennedy feels a sense of _______ in regards to MLK’s death.

A. Remorse

B. Loss

C. Hope

D. Shame

When we make inferences, we use clues from the text to understand a greater, but implied, meaning. The information that we glean through inferences is just that–gleaned. We have to scour the passage to figure them out.

In the case of this question, there are only two plausible answer choices. Choices A and D imply that Kennedy is responsible in some way for the death of Martin Luther King Jr. That is not true, which we know from both prior knowledge and context clues. Therefore, only choices B and C are possible answers.

Reading into the words of Kennedy, we can see that “Hope” isn’t an appropriate answer since Kennedy is not happy or optimistic about MLK’s death. Kennedy says that he has “very sad news” and that it was a “difficult day.” Both of these sentiments imply that Kennedy feels loss at the death of Martin Luther King Jr. That is why choice B is the correct answer.

Correct answer: B

If making inferences is your weakness you should focus on finding those clues and evidence in texts that can give you an understanding of the unwritten things that the author, speaker, or characters think.

4. Tone Questions: What word describes the author’s tone in the passage?

Tone is difficult for students to explain, but at the same time, very easy for them to understand because understanding tone relies on the feelings of the reader. Often, students have the ability to read a piece and give a general description of the author’s attitude, but they find it hard to put into words.

Luckily, if that is your struggle, the test is going to give you a list of words as choices. Let’s look at the example from the Kennedy speech:

Question: What word best describes Kennedy’s tone throughout the majority of his speech?

A. Mournful

B. Passive

C. Reflective

D. Hostile

Right away with this question you can disqualify at least two of the tones based on the text in the passage. Choices B and D do not reflect the nature of the words used in the speech. Kennedy is far too forward, urging people to action, for his tone to be considered passive. On the other hand, he is far too positive, speaking of things like love and understanding, for his tone to be hostile.

It might be difficult to choose between the remaining answer choices A and C, but there are main features in the speech that show us the main tone, the primary attitude that Kennedy displays, is one of reflection on Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and principles. While he does mourn, that is not the main attitude he is trying to get across in the speech. “Reflective” is the correct answer.

Correct answer: C

If identifying the tone of the passage is your main weakness you will want to begin looking at different types of tone conveyed in writing. There are many resources online that help students learn to identify the various tones that exist and can help you work on finding words or sentences that convey those tones. That type of practice, identifying how connotations of words contribute to overall tone, can help you strengthen this skill.

5. Main Idea Questions: What is the main idea of the passage?

Identifying the main idea or purpose of a piece might seem easier than some of the other skills in the reading section, but can be tricky if you don’t know where to look.

Finding the main idea will require looking at various parts of the text to gain a holistic view of the passage. The parts must connect in some way, and how they connect to make a whole is where we will find the main idea and meaning of the passage.

Let’s look at another question from the Kennedy speech:

Question: Kennedy’s primary goal is to

A. Inspire people to practice MLK’s teaching and to not respond with violence.

B. Reflect on how America will feel upon learning of MLK’s Assassination.

C. Focus on where to go and how to become a better nation.

D. Unite blacks and whites in the loss of a leader.

This question deals with the main idea or purpose of the text. He doesn’t explicitly state his goal, but if we look at the various parts of the text, we can come up with a solid answer that represents the text as a whole.

When viewing the parts within the text, there is an overwhelming amount of evidence that his speech focuses on convincing people not to pursue violence.

In the text Kennedy uses words like “bitterness,” “hatred,” and “revenge” to describe what people could feel. Then, he uses words like “understand,” “love,” and “wisdom” to describe how people should feel. From those clues within the text, you as the reader can figure out that Kennedy’s primary purpose is to inspire people to practice MLK’s teachings.

Correct answer: A

If this is a weakness for you don’t fret. Determining the main idea, primary goal, or purpose of a text is not always easy. You will want to practice reading passages and identifying those key sentences, words, or phrases that show what the author wants the reader to do, think, or take away from their speech/writing.

6. Diction, syntax, and construction questions: Why is the passage put together this way? Why would the author use this structure in their writing?

Diction (word choice), syntax (grammatical structure), and construction (the way the author chooses to arrange the text) all affect the meaning and delivery of the message.

If we take a look at this question from the Kennedy text we can see the way that this type of question is set up:

Question: In lines 28-29, what is the function of repeating the phrase “what we need”?

A. To balance the contrast of what Americans do not need versus what Americans do need.

B. To list the needs of white and black Americans alike.

C. To remind those in his audience of the ideals of MLK.

D. To unify the country to avoid falling into a state of lawlessness

This question focuses on the particular rhetorical device of parallel structure; knowing what parallel structure does could be useful for understanding which answer is correct.

To answer this question correctly, you need to focus on lines 28-29 of the speech and look at the use of the phrase “what we need” in the passage.

In the speech, Kennedy uses the expression “what we need”to describe what Americans don’t need, “What we need in the United States is not division…” Looking at the structure of those lines, how they outline what the US doesn’t need, and then how Kennedy later switches to what the US does need gives us clarity on the answer.

It is his construction that shows the contrast between what Americans do need and what they don’t need. Answer choice A captures this contrast correctly.

Correct answer: A

If understanding diction, syntax, or construction is a challenge, then you’ll want to focus on the way in which the words are put together helps to create meaning in the text. Like the use of parallel structure in the example above, the author’s organizational decisions always affect meaning in the text. So, pay attention to how structures can impact the way authors convey their points.

Diagnose Your Weaknesses

You must figure out which of these questions types is the most difficult for you to answer. Once you understand your weaknesses, you can work on turning them into strengths.

The time you spend fixing your weaknesses is essential to getting that perfect 36. However, other strategies can help you make up for any weakness you still have when the test rolls around—that’s where the fourth strategy comes into play.

Strategy 4: Whittle it Down Until You have the Right One

If you have weaknesses when the test rolls around, don’t panic–there are test-taking strategies that will help you.

Part of ACT cramming is that you begin to understand the best way to take the test. As we mentioned earlier, when you take the ACT Reading portion there is only one correct answer per question.

There aren’t shades of correctness; answers are going to be correct or incorrect. It is therefore up to you to practice a test-taking skill that will make up for any weakness you have after your practice: that skill is the process of elimination.

Whittling down the choices until you have the right answer is not always easy, but it is possible, and it will become easier to do if you practice before your test. Let’s take a look at an example of a short passage question:

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

Question: What is the primary goal of paragraph 8?

A. To inspire the audience to respond with violence.

B. To list how Black Americans are being withheld their freedom.

C. To ensure a peaceful protest.

D. To remind the audience of their goals with the protest.

There is one correct answer, and there are ways that we can narrow it down to figure out which one is right. Let’s take a look at all of the answers in order and determine why one is correct and why the others are wrong.

Answer A: False Association

This answer is the easiest to rule out, as it is the opposite of what the author is asking people to do. If you read the passage carefully, there is almost no way that this question would trick you. However, if a reader was going quickly, and had little knowledge of the ethics and ideals of Martin Luther King Jr., they might fall prey to a false association.

The topic of violence comes up in this answer choice, and the speech talks about violence at different points. This might lead the reader to falsely associate the idea of violence with the passage itself and pick answer A. If you are reading carefully during the ACT, this should be the easiest type of wrong answer to rule out.

Answer B: Transference

Answer B is also easy to rule out as long as you reread paragraph 8. If a reader is hasty, they might assume that paragraph 8 does list the ways that black Americans’ freedoms are withheld. The reason for this is that the idea comes up in other paragraphs of the text.

Paragraphs 3 and 4 of the passage both talk about both the freedoms withheld and the way that those freedoms are withheld. The idea of transference is that the test seeks to trick a reader who has read the whole passage but neglects to reread the particular paragraph in question, by having them substitute the ideas found in one part of a test for another.

The test is trying to get the reader to substitute their knowledge from a different part of the passage to the idea in that specific paragraph. The substitution is not correct; there is no list in paragraph 8, but if a reader accidentally injects ideas from paragraphs 3 and 4 into paragraph 8 without actually reading it, this question could trick them.

Answer C: Correct Answer

Answer C is the correct answer. The primary goal of the passage is to ensure that the protest is peaceful. There is specific and explicit evidence within the text that supports this answer.

If you look closely and re-read the paragraph before you answer, this answer will jump out. If we look at the end of the paragraph, Martin Luther King Jr. says “We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.”

The italicized text from the passage shows why Answer C is correct. In particular, MLK contrasts the idea of physical violence with peaceful protest. He uses words like “dignity,” “discipline,” “creative,” and “soul” to describe their “struggle” and explicitly asks that the protest not “degenerate into physical violence”. It is clear from rereading of the paragraph that answer C is correct.

Answer D: Too Broad

Answer D has the problem of being too broad. The goals of their protest as a whole are explained throughout the entire passage, but they are not specified in this particular paragraph.

The answer takes too broad a scope, ignoring the specific points of MLK’s insistence in this paragraph. If a reader were to reread the paragraph they would find that MLK is not reminding the audience of their protest goals in that paragraph but that is answer D is one of the goals of the text as a whole.

Don’t Be Tricked

Hopefully you are starting to get the idea.

Every question has only one right answer. The examples above show that there is always a reason why an answer is wrong.

If someone didn’t know how to eliminate questions, they might think that every answer is possibly correct, but you are prepared. You know that there is only one answer that is 100% correct.

If you practice the test-taking skill of eliminating answer choices, you will be better prepared for the test and well on your way to getting that 36 on the reading section.

If you are looking for more information on how to get a 36 on ACT Reading, keep reading–we still have four strategies left.

Strategy 5: Determine how You Read Best

In school everyone learns some test taking strategies. Some teachers teach students to read the text first and take detailed annotations. Other teachers will say, “Read the questions first and pay attention to what you need in the passage.”Another teacher might tell you to read a question, and then find the answer right away.

The reality is that any of these strategies can be effective, depending on how you, as a reader, best approach tests. Let’s walk through each of them.

Read the Text First and Take Detailed Notes

The idea here is that you only need to go through the text a single time. If your annotations are good then you will not need to go back and reread the text because you will either remember the answer from your detailed reading or you will be able to look at the short notes you took on each section of the passage.

Possible Benefits: If you have a great memory or are good at summarizing quickly this could be a great strategy for you. If you do it right it could mean maximizing your points on each question while minimizing the time you spend on rereading passages to find answers.

Risks: This is a dangerous way to go about the test if you struggle to read quickly or if you are not very good at remembering the things you have read. There is a great chance that you will actually spend too much time reading the passages and not enough time actually getting the answers you need.

Modification: The best way to modify this strategy is to simply skim the passage, take in the key points, and write those down at the end. This will give you a great overview of the article without spending too much time on the reading itself.

When you look at the questions afterwards, answer any that you can and mark any that reference a specific line. If there are any that you don’t know, mark them and come back to them once you have answered all the questions that you are able to answer quickly.

This will shave time off your reading and answering, giving you a chance to spend any extra time on questions that are particularly hard to find answers to.

Read the Questions First and Mark the Text for Answers

This strategy was developed to save the reader time. Instead of reading the entire text and looking at the questions afterward, the reader only skims for relevant information in the passage after they have looked at the questions.

The idea is that you cut down on the time spent reading information you don’t need.

Possible Benefits: The most obvious is that you don’t have to read irrelevant information in the text. This will save major time if it works out. It can also help manage stress because you won’t become overly focused on irrelevant details or literary elements.

Risks: You might miss some important information in the text that pertains to a specific question. This could mean being stuck searching the passage for the answer to the question. If you practice this it will become easier to find the answers in the text, but there is always a possibility that you will spend extra time trying to find the answer to that one question.

Read a Question and Find the Answer Right Afterward.

This strategy is a different take on the idea presented in the second reading strategy. The idea is that you can cut down on time by finding the answers one at a time and do even less reading than you would if you were looking through the whole text for answers.

The idea is that you won’t actually read most of the text, instead only looking for the answers that you actually need.

Possible Benefits: This strategy could drastically reduce the amount of time you spend on reading. By focusing on each question, you are only spending as much time reading as you need to find the specific answer.

Risks: This is one of the worst strategies available – it has the extreme potential to spend too much time on a single question. The idea of reading without context leaves you vulnerable to the possibility that there will be numerous questions that you don’t understand. That can lead to a large amount of time wasted looking for answers.

With that risk comes the possibility of reward, but unless you are an extremely gifted reader and very lucky with questions, it is not recommended that you use this strategy.

You Decide

You will need to determine which of the strategies is the best for you. Either of the first two strategies offer benefits with lower risks. You must determine which of the strategies suit your particular strengths.

It would be best to try both strategies on a practice test and see which one yields better results. Then, practice that strategy until you begin to master it.

Strategy 6: Work on your Bubble Magic

So, you still want to know how to get a 36 on ACT Reading? Well, as you are using the strategies above you might find that you are not completing your practice tests in the allotted 35 minutes. There could be a number of reasons why you are not making it in time, but one way to improve your speed is your bubbling technique.

One important part of test taking that very few people actually talk about is the actual physical process of taking a test. When your hand moves to make a mark or when your eyes switch between the test booklet and your answer sheet, you are taking up valuable time. All of these small movements have an affect on the overall time it takes you to finish your test.

One of the easiest ways to cut back on wasted time is to practice how you bubble and change your technique. Many students bubble in an answer immediately after they figure it out; this is the simplest way to do it, and generally the method taught in the school system.

However, that is not the most efficient way to bubble. Think about it, if it takes you 5 seconds to move your pencil, find the correct bubble on the answer sheet, and double check that you have bubbled the right one for each question, that adds up to over 3 minutes spent just bubbling your questions.

Those wasted minutes could be used answer questions. A better way to use your time is to simply circle the answer on the test document and fill in the bubbles all at once at the end. This way you are only dealing with the one document during most of the test. Those precious seconds are not spent switching back and forth between every question, and you can quickly remember a series of answer like A, B, D, B, B for a page.

There is only one potential pitfall to this plan: if you run out of time, you might not actually manage to fill in any of your answers. It is imperative that you keep track of time so that you have at least a minute to fill in your answers at the end.

Hopefully, using these strategies, you will have more than a minute at the end of the test – but just keep track in case.

Strategy 7: Keep Calm and Double Check

Keep Calm and Double Check

When you walk into the testing center, the full weight of the test will descend on you. You will become nervous, and that can lead to mistakes. To make sure you avoid those mistakes you have to keep calm.

The calmer you are, the more in control you will be. Practice calming down. It is easy to let panic overtake you when you are staring your academic career in the face, but here are some ideas for how you can keep calm during your test.

1. Remember: You Can Do It! The first step to getting a 36 on ACT Reading is to realize that you are able to get a 36. A perfect score is entirely possible to achieve.

Many students psych themselves out with negativity or doubt about their own abilities. They count themselves out before they have even taken the test. That is not something you will do. Remember that you have studied for this test, and you are ready. You can get a 36 on the ACT Reading section.

2. Quit Cramming. Many students don’t realize this, but you don’t need to keep studying or refreshing your memory right up to the exam. The reality is that you should stop studying the night before the exam. If you haven’t already learned something, you aren’t going to learn it in the precious hours you have to sleep, or the time you have in the morning before the test happens. You have prepared yourself so don’t sweat it.

3. Take a Deep Breath. When you sit down to take the test, you might be a bit nervous. The testing rooms are always packed with nervous energy, and many students can pick up on that the moment they enter the building.

Realize that you have prepared, then close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. The act of deep breathing actually helps the body calm down by inhibiting stress-inducing hormones. So make sure you remember to breath!

4. Focus on the Exam. Everyone has a life outside of school and tests, but it is important to realize that the testing room should be like a fortress of solitude. You leave your other worries and your life outside the door. When you are in the testing room the only problem that you need to face is in the exam booklet. Don’t stress yourself out by worrying about other things. Clear your head and focus.

Those are four ways that you can calm yourself down and make sure that you don’t stress during the test. If you are successful, the calm that comes over you will allow you to answer the questions with clarity and purpose.

That clarity and purpose will translate into more correct answers. Keeping a calm head will mean that when you go back to double check your answers, you are more likely to notice mistakes. If you are nervous, and your thoughts are scrambled, it will be more difficult to accurately assess if your answers are correct.

So, keep your cool and check your answers over.

Our last strategy for how to get a 36 on ACT Reading is next, so keep reading.

Strategy 8: Get Rest and Eat Right

You probably won’t find this strategy on many testing guides, but it is crucial – you must get rest and eat a balanced breakfast before the test. The value of these activities cannot be overstated.

It is critical, as explained in the previous strategy, that you end your ACT cramming session at least a day before the test starts. Spend the day before the test relaxing, taking it slow, and ensuring that you will be ready for the test the next morning.

Get some rest before the test. Don’t stay up late; it can be tempting to use your time to relax by playing on video games or watching television, but you’ll benefit from getting to bed early.

You will want to focus the day before on doing things that are not too stressful. Most students take their tests on a Saturday, so after school on Friday go home early. Don’t stay at school doing homework or projects – those are excellent ways to stress yourself out with extra pressure.

Activities might help you feel relaxed and clear your mind include

If the test starts at 8 A.M. the following morning you will want to make sure you are ready for bed at 8 P.M. the night before. That way if you end up staying awake because of nervousness or wake up later than you had planned, you will still be well rested in the morning.

To make an 8 A.M. test time you will want to get up with plenty of time to get ready in the morning. 6 A.M. will give you plenty of time to take a shower and get dressed, prepare and eat a nutritious meal, and get to the testing center with time to spare.

It is extremely important that you prepare a breakfast for yourself that will keep you satisfied during the 4-hour testing window. The worst thing you can do is have a gnawing hunger distracting you while you are trying to get a perfect score. going for a walk outside, taking a bath with music, reading a favorite book, or indulging yourself in something pleasant. You can watch a show or play video games if that is how you unwind, but the key is to set a limit for yourself. Regardless of the activity you choose to do, make sure that you eat an early and nutritious dinner and get to bed early.

A balanced breakfast is recommended before the test. A balance of protein, which lasts, and carbohydrates, which give immediate energy, will help keep you awake and satisfied during the test.

Getting to the testing center with time to spare is also very important. The earlier you get there, the less stress you will feel about finding the right room or making sure you have everything you need. You will feel pressed for time during the test, so, don’t make yourself pressed for time before the test. Plan ahead.

You are Ready!

That is how to get a 36 on ACT Reading. It seems simple, but don’t forget that you actually have to do the work. You can spend all day reading about strategies to get a perfect score, but until you put the advice into practice you will not actually achieve your goals. Remember to focus hard on practice; there is no magic wand that we can wave to get you a 36.

The next step in your journey is to set up a study schedule. Hopefully you have plenty of time before you take the test to work towards your goal. A schedule should include all of the time you will need in order to address your reading weaknesses.

Remember that as you practice it is a good idea to check out the sample practice tests: 2015-20162014-20152011-20122008-20092005-2006 , and the practice questions or blog to get further.

Review these eight strategies as you go to remember the specific requirements of the test, the types of questions it will ask you, or what you can do to keep yourself prepared for the test on the day before.

You’ve got this. Don’t stress. Keep these strategies in mind and the perfect 36 on the ACT Reading will be yours. Now it’s time to start studying.

Do you have another strategy that you are using for your studying? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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Life in Bantu ACT Reading Practice Question

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