ACT Reading Practice: Craft and Structure | Fiveable (2024)

tl;dr: The ACT's Reading section tests your knowledge in three key categories: Key Ideas and Details, Craft and Structure, and Integration of Knowledge and Ideas. Craft and Structure comprises roughly 28-30% of the entire reading section, so understanding it is essential! We'll break down the basics of Craft and Structure questions, from what they are to how to answer them correctly.

The ACT’s Reading section tests mastery 🧠 in three categories: Key Ideas and Details, Craft and Structure, and Integration of Knowledge and Ideas. As per the ACT’s official exam guide, the Craft and Structure content covered by the Reading questions comprise roughly 28-30% of the Reading section. By understanding how this section of the test works, you'll be one step closer to earning a 36 on your ACT test! If you're looking for more ACT resources, then check out this list we compiled full of the best ACT review resources.

What does Craft and Structure mean, anyway?

When the ACT tests for Craft and Structure, it evaluates your ability to “determine word and phrase meanings; analyze 🧐 an author’s word choice rhetorically; analyze text structure; understand the author’s purpose and perspective; and analyze characters’ points of view” (ACT). You must read 👓 beyond the lines to answer these questions correctly. Craft and Structure questions will not ask you to regurgitate plot points or identify explicitly available text features. Rather, you are to evaluate the text wholly to determine the reasons behind stylistic, rhetorical, and characterization choices. You’ll be asked to make decisions based upon the information given to you by the text. 📕 This does not mean that Craft and Structure questions are more complex than Key Ideas and Details questions; in fact, every question asked in the ACT Reading section is written such that the text has the answer, so every answer is in front of you—you just have to know where to look!

Defining Key Terms to Understand Craft and Structure Questions


Rhetoric is the art of writing ✍️ persuasively and intentionally. The ACT asks students rhetorical skills questions, and these expect test-takers to evaluate the meaning of the story. Essentially, they require looking beyond the plot to understand the author’s choices. How and why do certain words, phrases, attitudes, points of view, and stylistic preferences influence the text’s effect?


Diction is word choice, and it falls under the umbrella ☂️ of rhetorical devices. Authors are deliberate when choosing words to tell a story; two words may be synonyms, but their effects in context can be vastly different. Pay attention to how words, especially colorful words like strong verbs and specific descriptors, shift the meaning of the text.

Author’s Purpose

This hasn’t changed from when you were first introduced to it in grade school. Basically, authors write texts for specific reasons, and the way they convey their message changes based upon their reason for writing. 📝 To be successful on the ACT Reading section, get comfortable quickly identifying the author's purpose and how resulting stylistic choices affect meaning.

Sample Craft and Structure Question

This question is sourced from the ACT website.

ACT Reading Practice: Craft and Structure | Fiveable (1)

As it is used in line 3, the phrase "something innate" most nearly means:

  1. A memory
  2. Learned behavior
  3. Physical immaturity
  4. An inherited trait

These questions are designed to trick 👻 you. Make a note of the wording–you aren’t asked which answer choice works (most likely, more than one will make sense in context). You’re asked to identify which answer choice most nearly works. In other words, there are multiple correct answers but only one best answer.

The easiest way to find 🤔 the best answer is to substitute in each answer choice in place of the phrase in question and determine which option best matches the meaning of the original sentence. However, this is not always the most foolproof strategy ♟ because it can be challenging to decide which answer is most appropriate when all four are possibilities. To avoid confusion, follow this simple tip: eliminate the three wrong answers.

If any part of an answer choice is inaccurate, false, irrelevant, or doesn’t make sense, the entire answer choice is incorrect and should be eliminated.

For an answer choice to be correct, all parts of the choice should be correct.

Therefore, it is easier to identify the three wrong answers than the one correct answer, but by doing so, you are inherently arriving at the correct answer. ✅

Let’s try this strategy for the question above:

Given the context, it’s clear that “something innate” does NOT mean learned behavior. “Something innate” is not likely a memory, either, because memories are made after birth. Finally, physical immaturity doesn’t make contextual sense here, so we’re left with answer choice D. As it turns out, innate means natural, and an inherited trait is not one that is learned after birth. (The answer is D.)

That’s it—answering a Reading Craft and Structure question correctly is all about identifying 🔎 mistakes in three answer choices and remembering some basic vocabulary terms and literary concepts.

Practice similar questions today and test your mastery of Craft and Structure concepts! And always remember: the answer is right in front of you, and you will find it if you look 👀 calmly and closely enough.

Need more ACT prep?

Fiveable has you covered! Visit The Ultimate Guide to the ACT Reading Section or How to get a 36 on the ACT Reading Section if you need more practice on the reading portion. Need more ACT prep in the english, math, and science sections? Check out our other articles to gain you the upper-hand in achieving that 36!

  • English: Ultimate Guide to the ACT: English Section
  • Math: Ultimate Guide to the ACT: Math Section
  • Science: Ultimate Guide to the ACT: Science Section
ACT Reading Practice: Craft and Structure | Fiveable (2024)


What is craft and structure in reading ACT? ›

Craft and Structure: The ability to determine word and phrase meaning, analyze word choice and text structure, understand the author's purpose and perspective, and interpret a character's point of view.

How to improve craft and structure in reading? ›

Review Rhetorical Devices: Familiarize yourself with common rhetorical devices, such as metaphor, simile, personification, and alliteration. Understanding how authors use these devices will enable you to better analyze the craft and structure of a text.

How is the ACT reading test structured? ›

The ACT Reading test consists of 40 questions that must be answered within the 35-minute time limit. The test consists of four sections, each containing one long or two shorter (paired) prose passages. The passages focus on topics in social studies, natural sciences, prose fiction, and the humanities.

How do you practice reading section of the ACT? ›

Now that you know what to expect, here are six ACT reading strategies that will help you approach any passage:
  1. Choose Your Own Adventure. ...
  2. Get Plenty of ACT Reading Practice. ...
  3. Read the Questions First. ...
  4. Keep Moving. ...
  5. Look for Transition Words. ...
  6. Don't Panic if You Don't Know the Word.

Is ACT harder than SAT? ›

Is the SAT harder than the ACT? The SAT is not harder than the ACT. Both tests vary slightly in terms of subjects covered and structure. These variations can affect each test taker differently, making one exam more challenging than the other.

What are craft and structure questions? ›

Craft and Structure (25–30%)

These questions ask you to: determine word and phrase meanings. analyze an author's word choice rhetorically. analyze text structure.

What is the key craft and structure? ›

Craft and Structure emphasizes how the authors' organization and structure of sentences and paragraphs contribute to the text meaning as a whole. As students read literature they must be able to use text structure to identify the order of events and the relationship of ideas in a text.

What are craft techniques in reading? ›

An author's craft refers to various techniques and literary devices authors use to create a story. This includes everything from plot structure and character development to the use of figurative language, symbolism, and descriptive details. It also involves the author's choice of point of view and narrative style.

What are author's craft examples? ›

The craft moves the author uses in the text are: unique word choice in headings, anecdote, dialogue, rhetorical questions.

Is the reading section harder on the SAT or ACT? ›

The ACT has four longer passages (700-900 words) and the SAT has five slightly shorter passages (500-750 words). In general, reading comprehension is a little more intense on the ACT than on the SAT, but the difference is mostly negligible.

Do colleges look at ACT reading? ›

ACT Reporting on the Common App

Colleges only see your highest composite score from any test date and your highest English, Math, Reading, and Science scores from any test dates.

What are the four types of reading passages on the ACT? ›

For the sake of consistency, however, the passages in ACT reading will always fall into the same four broad categories. In other words, each of the following categories comprise 25% of the ACT reading section, presented in the following order: prose fiction, social science, humanities, and natural science.

Which ACT section is hardest? ›

Do You Feel Confident in the Content? Obviously, it's not a good idea to take the ACT® unless you have a good grasp on the content that will be tested. The ACT® Reading and ACT® Science sections are both the hardest and easiest to prepare for.

How to pace yourself on ACT reading? ›

Be sure to pace yourself – don't read too slowly since you want to manage your time; however, don't read so quickly that you forget the information. Underline words that stand out to you, and make notes in the margins with the main ideas.

How to read faster on ACT reading? ›

Read the questions first: Figure out what details you need to look for in the passage by reading the questions first; you'll then jump back to the passage to find these details. This method can be disorienting for some people, but for others it really saves on time.

What is craft and structure in read theory? ›

Craft and Structure emphasizes how the authors' organization and structure of sentences and paragraphs contribute to the text meaning as a whole. As students read literature they must be able to use text structure to identify the order of events and the relationship of ideas in a text.

What is a craft technique in reading? ›

Craft refers to "the artistic skill or technique with which an author puts together narrative and other elements in order to convey meaning and produce effect" (Massachusetts 2017 English Language Arts and Literacy Framework ).

What is craft and structure in reading SAT? ›

Craft and Structure

Questions in this domain measure the comprehension, vocabulary, analysis, synthesis, and reasoning skills and knowledge needed to: Understand and use high-utility words and phrases in context. Evaluate the structure and purpose of texts. Make connections between topically related texts.

What is the structure of the ACT? ›

The A C T test consists of four multiple-choice sections— English, mathematics, reading, and science—with an optional writing section. Some colleges and universities require or accept A C T writing scores, so you may consider taking the writing section.

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