ACT Reading Practice: Craft and Structure

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.

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!

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