ACT quietly changes Reading section to include chart interpretation questions

ACT has quietly updated its Reading Test description, introducing chart interpretation questions to that section of the exam. ACT piloted this new question category—called "Visual and Quantitative Information"—on school-day exams in 2021 and now plans to include them on National Testing dates as well.

While change can feel stressful at first, students who have been studying for the Science section of the ACT should be in a good position to handle this new question type.

What exactly is changing?

The change is a relatively minor one, likely affecting only 5% of the questions on the Reading section. Students may see a graph, figure, or table accompanying one of the four Reading passages on the exam. On the March 2021 school-day administrations, students reported that only 2 of the 10 questions on that passage required them to refer to the chart.

According to the ACT website, "In the passages containing these visual and quantitative elements, some of the questions will ask the student to integrate the information from the passage and graphic to determine the best answer. These items will contribute to the student’s score in the Integration of Knowledge and Ideas reporting category." In other words, these questions will feel very similar to those that students encounter on the SAT.

Take a look at examples here.

How can students prepare?

Students can apply their ACT Science strategies to these passages and questions.

  • Start by carefully reading the question prompt so that you can focus your search on the specific details you need.
  • It's equally important to carefully read chart labels, axes, and keys in order to accurately identify necessary pieces of data.
  • Some of the more challenging questions may ask you to compare trends or identify whether the data supports a claim in the passage. In those cases, you may see two-part answer choices. Use the process of elimination whenever possible. If one half of an answer choice is false, the whole option is incorrect, and you can eliminate it.
  • If more than one answer choice is supported by data from the chart, make sure you're choosing the option that directly answers the question.

Need more individualized advice?

The recommendations above are general suggestions. If you have specific questions, reach out to our experts here. We’re happy to help in any way we can.


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Erin Ohsie-Frauenhofer

About Erin Ohsie-Frauenhofer

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