5 ACT Reading Questions Commented

ACT Reading questions fall into 5 types and test skills in understanding the main ideas, finding details and interpreting the purpose in the texts. That way, you will not only need to keep a close eye on what is stated directly, but you will also need to interpret and analyze implicit meanings. To help you prepare for this section, we have brought 5 commented questions here. Check out!

5 Sample ACT Reading Questions

For the questions, we will take into account the following text, with passages from the book The Men of Brewster Place, by the author Gloria Naylor. It is a bit long, but it is just the text size that you will find in the ACT Reading questions :

Clifford Jackson, or Abshu, as he preferred to be known in the streets, had committed himself several years ago to use his talents as a playwright to broaden the horizons for the young, gifted, and black—which was how he saw every child milling around that dark street. As head of the community center he went after every existing grant on the city and state level to bring them puppet shows with the message to avoid drugs and stay in school; and plays in the park such as actors rapping their way through Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Abshu believed there was something in Shakespeare for everyone, even the young of Brewster Place, and if he broadened their horizons just a little bit, there might be enough room for some of them to slip through and see what the world had waiting. No, it would not be a perfect world, but definitely one with more room than they had now.

The kids who hung around the community center liked Abshu, because he never preached and it was clear that when they spoke he listened; so he could zero in on the kid who had a real problem. It might be an offhand remark while shooting a game of pool or a one-on-one out on the basketball court, but he had a way of making them feel special with just a word or two.

Abshu wished that his own family could have stayed together. There were four of them who ended up in foster care: him, two younger sisters, and a baby brother. He understood why his mother did what she did, but he couldn’t help wondering if there might have been a better way.

Abshu was put into a home that already had two other boys from foster care. The Masons lived in a small wooden bungalow right on the edge of Linden Hills. And Mother Mason insisted that they tell anybody who asked that they actually lived in Linden Hills, a more prestigious address than Summit Place. It was a home that was kept immaculate.

But what he remembered most about the Masons was that it seemed there was never quite enough to eat. She sent them to school with a lunch of exactly one and a half sandwiches—white bread spread with margarine and sprinkled with sugar—and half an apple.

When Abshu dreamed of leaving —which was every day— he had his own apartment with a refrigerator overflowing with food that he gorged himself with day and night. The Masons weren’t mean people; he knew he could have ended up with a lot worse.

Abshu lived with these people for nine years, won a scholarship to the local college, and moved out to support himself through school by working in a doughnut shop. By this time his mother was ready to take her children back home, but he decided that since he was already out on his own he would stay there. One less mouth for her to worry about feeding. And after he graduated with his degree in social work, he might even be able to give her a little money to help her along.

One thing he did thank the Masons for was keeping him out of gangs. There was a strict curfew in their home that was rigidly observed. And church was mandatory. “When you’re out on your own,” Father Mason always said, “you can do whatever you want, but in my home you do as I say.” No, they weren’t mean people, but they were stingy—stingy with their food and with their affection. Existing that way all the time, on the edge of hunger, on the edge of kindness, gave Abshu an appreciation for a life fully lived. Do whatever job makes you happy, regardless of the cost; and fill your home with love. Well, his home became the community center right around the corner from Brewster Place and the job that made him most fulfilled was working with young kids.

The kids who hung out at the community center weren’t all lost yet. They wanted to make use of the tutors for their homework; and they wanted a safe place to hang. His motto was: Lose no child to the streets. And on occasion when that happened, he went home to cry. But he never let his emotions show at work. To the kids he was just a big, quiet kind of dude who didn’t go looking for trouble, but he wouldn’t run from it either. He was always challenged by a new set of boys who showed up at the center. He made it real clear to them that this was his territory—his rules—and if they needed to flex their muscles, they were welcome to try. And he showed many that just because he was kind, it didn’t mean he was weak. There had to be rules somein their world, some kind of discipline. And if they understood that, then he worked with them, long and hard, to let them see that they could make a difference in their own lives.

LITERARY NARRATIVE: This passage is adapted from the novel The Men of Brewster Place by Gloria Naylor (©1998 by Gloria Naylor).

5 ACT Reading Questions Commented

Question 1

The point of view from which the passage is told can best be described as that of:

A. a man looking back on the best years of his life as director of a community center in a strife-ridden neighborhood.
B. a narrator describing his experiences as they happen, starting with childhood and continuing through his adult years as an advocate for troubled children.
C. an unidentified narrator describing a man who devoted his life to neighborhood children years after his own difficult childhood.
D. an admiring relative of a man whose generosity with children was widely respected in the neighborhood where he turned around a declining community center.

This statement fits as an example of a question about “Main Idea / General Picture”, one of the types of ACT reading questions, because it asks you to talk about a characteristic that permeates the entire text.

Therefore, the best answer is alternative C, because the person telling the story is never identified. This narrator, however, knows enough about Abshu to describe in detail the main character’s difficult childhood and commitment as an adult to work at a community center.

Question 2

It can reasonably be inferred from the passage that which of the following is a cherished dream that Abshu expects to make a reality in his lifetime?

A. Establishing himself financially so as to be able to bring his original family back under one roof
B. Seeing the children at the community center shift their interest from sports to the dramatic arts
C. Building on the success of the community center by opening other centers like it throughout the state
D. Expanding for some, if not all, of the children the vision they have of themselves and their futures

This is an inference question, one of the main types of ACT reading questions. The goal here is to identify what a sentence, a paragraph or the entire passage can tell you implicitly.

In this case, the best answer is alternative H, because the first paragraph specifically indicates that Abshu’s goal was to expand the horizons of the children he worked with. Early on, the passage states that Abshu “pledged to … broaden the horizons for young, talented and black people – and that’s how he saw all the children walking around …”. Later on, the text says again that he wanted to broaden his horizons.

main types of ACT reading questions

Question 3

It can reasonably be inferred from the passage that Abshu and the Masons would agree with which of the following statements about the best way to raise a child?

A. For a child to be happy, he or she must develop a firm basis in religion at an early age.
B. For a child to be fulfilled, he or she must be exposed to great works of art and literature that contain universal themes.
C. For a child to thrive and be a responsible member of society, he or she must develop a sense of discipline.
D. For a child to achieve greatness, he or she must attach importance to the community and not to the self.

In the case of this question, in particular, the correct answer is C, because the Masons and Abshu tried to discipline the children in their care. At the Masons’ house, “There was a strict curfew”, which Abshu believes kept him “out of the gangs”. At the community center, Abshu also believed in discipline: “There had to be rules somewhere in the world [for children], some kind of discipline. And if they understood that, he would work with them for a long time ”.

Question 4

The fourth paragraph establishes all of the following EXCEPT:

A. that Abshu had foster brothers.
B. that the Masons maintained a clean house.
C. how Mother Mason felt about the location of their house.
D. what Abshu remembered most about his years with the Masons.

We have this question as an example of the ACT Reading questions that deal with details. These questions usually take you to a specific phrase or paragraph in the text and ask what it means.

Here, the correct answer is H, since this question asks you to find the option that is NOT included in the fourth paragraph. Information on what Abshu most remembered from his time with the Masons is actually included in the fifth paragraph.

ACT Reading questions on inference

Question 5

It can reasonably be inferred that which of the following characters from the passage lives according to Abshu’s definition of a life fully lived?

A. Mother Mason
B. Father Mason
C. Abshu as a child
D. Abshu as an adult

Here is one more of the ACT Reading questions on inference. In it, the best answer is alternative D, because the second half of the eighth paragraph refers specifically to what “gave Abshu an appreciation for a life fully lived”. The narrator goes on to explain that working with young children was what made Abshu “more accomplished”. Abshu developed this work as an adult.