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Changes Coming to the ACT Reading Section

ACT recently announced an upcoming change in 2021 to the reading portion of the test. I've not yet seen a confirmation of the first date we can expect to see "Visual and Quantitative Information" questions

Past changes to the ACT test such as 2-passage reading selections and an additional science section were unannounced, so it is quite possible ACT will not inform testers the first time this new type of question might appear. 

But is it really a new type of question? 

ACT's Description of the New VQI questions

Visual and Quantitative Information in the Reading Section
Beginning in 2021, one passage in the Reading Section may be accompanied by a graph, figure, or table that contains information relevant to the reading task. 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.


Sounds eerily similar to the types of questions that already make-up the ACT science section. SAT doesn't contain a separate science or quantitative section but instead embeds visual and quantitative elements on both the reading subtest and writing and language subtest. 

It sounds like a move on the part of ACT to mimic the SAT. That's been done before by both testing organizations. 

In 2014 SAT announced they would be "redesigning" their test to debut in March 2016. When it did, it looked amazingly similar to the ACT and didn't resemble the SAT of years past. Why would they do that? In 2012 the number of ACT takers surpassed SAT for the first time. Since then SAT has rebounded. 

How to Prep for ACT Reading 

By adding visual to only one section, and remember the release said the test may contain such, the test for the most part will remain largely unchanged for now. 

Published practice materials by ACT do not contain these types of practice materials. This includes "The Official ACT Prep Guide" published in April 2021 and "The Official ACT Reading Guide" published in June 2021. Shame on ACT as they must have known this was coming yet published and sold these already outdated books. 


  • Pay close attention to strategies used on the science section and use them if you encounter a VQI question(s) on the reading
  • Familiarize yourself with the SAT Reading section and Writing and Language section where similar types of questions already exist
  • Take LEAP Test Prep where we have integrated prep for both ACT and SAT in our group course and 1:1 tutoring

How LEAP is Pivoting

We have our own curriculum that I wrote in 2000....and have revised numerous times as the tests continue to morph. 

I had just placed an order for 200 more curriculum copies for our in-person classes the morning of the announcement. STOP THE PRESSES! I canceled the order. 

We are already working on curriculum edits to address the upcoming changes, class content changes, and professional development for our tutors. These changes will be implemented by August 1, 2021. 

Any Future Changes?

Speculation among professional tutors is the science portion of the test will possibly be eliminated in the future and this is the first step in doing so. I would definitely not be surprised. 

In the meantime, stay subscribed to LEAP as stay on top of the changes in the college entrance exam world. 

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