Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Power Up: Reading ACT Prep, Week 5

Laura Halstied, Michell Eike | Published: October 25th, 2023 by K20 Center


In this reading ACT prep activity, students view a short video about ACT reading tips and reflect on what they have learned about the ACT reading section so far. Students then review cause and effect relationships by reading a passage about the Cold War and then answer ten ACT-style questions. This is the fifth activity in a 10-week "Power Up" series for ACT prep.

Essential Question

  • How can I raise my ACT score?

Learning Objectives

  • Identify cause and effect relationships

  • Reflect on new knowledge about the ACT reading test

Materials List

  • Activity Slides (attached)

  • Passage handout (attached; one per student)

  • Questions handout (attached; one per student)

  • Questions (Teacher Guide) document (attached; for teacher use)

  • Goal Setting handout (previously used in Power Up: Reading ACT Prep, Week 1)

  • Sticky notes (one per student)

  • Pen/pencil


10 Minute(s)

Introduce the activity using the attached Activity Slides. Share the essential question on slide 3 and the learning objectives from slide 4

Provide a sticky note to each student then move to slide 5 which has a short video about ACT reading tips and strategies. Tell students to look for one tip that stands out to them as they watch the video. Move to slide 6 and play the video.

After the video, have students write down what they think is the most helpful tip on their sticky note. Using the Commit and Toss strategy, have students crumple up the sticky note and throw it up in the air, then have each student pick up a sticky note off the floor and read it. Ask for a few volunteers to read the tip on the sticky note they picked up. Display slide 7 and briefly recap the tips that were shared in the video. 


15 Minute(s)

Move to slide 8 and pass out the attached Passage and attached Questions handout to each student. Tell students to read the passage and answer the ten questions in ten minutes. This helps students start to practice pacing for the actual ACT. Use the embedded 10-minute timer on the slide to time students. Remind students to pace themselves so that they read the passage in four minutes and answer the questions in five minutes. Students should spend nine minutes on each passage but ten minutes has been provided to allow for practice. Provide more time after the timer ends if needed. 

Move to slide 9 and have students check their work to self-assess how they did. If students have questions about answers, use the attached Questions (Teacher Guide) document, which provides explanations for the correct answers to these ACT-style questions.


10 Minute(s)

Display slide 10 and have students take out their Goal Setting handout from week one if possible. If students do not have their Goal Setting handout, have them use a piece of notebook paper. Ask students to think about what they have learned about the ACT reading section test so far, as they are now halfway through the ten-week ACT prep series. Have students use the 3-2-1 strategy to respond to the prompts on slide 10 either on the back of their Goal Setting handout or notebook paper. After providing time for students to write down responses, have them share their thoughts with another student.

Display slide 11. Remind students that reading weekly is a great way to prepare for the ACT reading section.

Next Step

Complete next week’s activity, “Power Up: Reading ACT Prep, Week 6,” which reviews how to use the annotation tools that are included in the online ACT testing platform.

Research Rationale

Standardized testing in high schools has long stood as a metric for assessing college readiness and school accountability (McMann, 1994). While there has been debate surrounding the accuracy of such metrics, as well as concerns regarding equity, many institutions of higher education continue to make these scores part of the admissions process (Allensworth & Clark, 2020; Black et al., 2016; Buckley et al., 2020). Aside from admissions, it is also important to keep in mind that standardized test scores can also provide students with scholarship opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have (Klasik, 2013). Though the topic of standardized testing continues to be debated, effective test prep can ensure that our students are set up for success.

With several benefits to doing well on college admissions tests, it is important to consider how best to prepare students for this type of high stakes test. Those students from groups that may historically struggle to find success, such as those in poverty or first generation college students, especially stand to benefit from effective test preparation (Moore & San Pedro, 2021). The American College Test (ACT) is one option students have for college admissions testing that is provided both at national centers and school sites. Taking time to understand this test including the timing, question types, rigor, and strategies for approaching specific questions can help to prepare students to do their best work on test day and ensure their score is a more accurate representation of what they know (Bishop & Davis-Becker, 2016).