While most people focus on the big numbers on the ACT score report–section scores and Composite–there’s more to learn by digging deeper. ACT included three reporting categories each for English, reading, and science, as well as eight reporting categories for mathematics. These subscores provide more granular insight into test performance by sorting test questions into smaller categories that can be used to evaluate relative strength in specific subject areas.
Why don’t we spend much time on ACT Reporting Categories? Basically, these subscores are worthless from an admissions perspective; colleges don’t care about them. However, Reporting Categories have value in terms of identifying key skills test takers should master for ACT success. In this, ACT Reading Reporting Categories can be particularly helpful.
The ACT Reporting Category Interpretation Guide provides valuable insight into all of the subscores on the test. The Reading Reporting Categories fall into three large proficiencies:
KEY IDEAS AND DETAILS
More than half of the questions on the ACT Reading Test focus on the core skill of understanding what an author wrote a passage to say. To earn these points, test takers need to understand the main idea of a passage, understand the role of explicit detail in supporting that thesis, and accurately infer what an author is implying. Easy, right?
CRAFT AND STRUCTURE
This reporting category gets into areas students spend a lot of time on in Literature classes. Sensitivity to mood, tone, and connotation makes a difference, as long as students also have the vocabulary to recognize correct answer choices. Test takers must also pay attention to structure, primarily the rhetorical devices and literary constructs authors employ in their writing. Craft and Structure questions focus more on the choices authors make than what a passage says.
INTEGRATION OF KNOWLEDGE AND IDEAS
The skills evaluated in this reporting category seem similar to those in Craft and Structure. However, this category encompasses questions on ACT Paired Passages, which share a topic or relationship even though they have different main ideas. Test takers should also understand the fundamentals of persuasive writing.
Taken in aggregate, ACT Reading Reporting Categories may seem obvious. However, each identified proficiency area supports a holistic approach to reading that will carry a test taker to success in school and life . Every one of these reading skills makes a person a more insightful, discerning, and effective consumer of information. Master them and you’ll excel well beyond the ACT!
(Interested in learning more? Hear what several experts have to say on the topic in this podcast on ACT Reading Reporting Categories.)