ACT Reading Practice: 4 Steps for “Except”, “Not”, or “Least” Questions

If you’ve taken the ACT before or have started studying for it, you’ve probably noticed that some of the ACT Reading section contains test questions with words like “Except,” “Not,” or “Least” in them. Use this 4-step strategy for better scores on this question-type!

  • Rephrase the question

    Dumb down these long-winded questions using simpler terminology. This will help you understand what the question is really asking.

  • Give yourself a task

    Once you understand the question, write down your task. For example, if a question asks, “Which of the following does NOT match the tone of the passage?” your task might be to “eliminate choices that fit the tone.” This will give you a clear idea of how to approach the answer choices.

  • Predict, if possible

    Although these questions are typically open-ended, go back to the passage and make a prediction whenever possible. Even for a question like, “All of the following is true about Hamlet except:” you can still refer back to the passage and locate the paragraph that provides details about Hamlet.

  • Eliminate

    You’ll need to examine these answer choices more slowly and critically than other Reading questions. Don’t rush through them. Carefully eliminate choices based on information from the passage.

Not Practice Question

Animals have demonstrated long ago that
they not only have as many talents as human
(60)   beings but that, under the influence of the same
environment, they form the same kinds of
combinations to defend themselves against
enemies, to shelter themselves against heat and
cold, to build homes, to lay up a supply of food
(65)   for the hard seasons. In fact, all through the
ages man has been imitating the animals in
burrowing through the earth, penetrating the
waters, and now, at last, flying through the air.
There are also numerous signs, sounds and
(70)   motions by which animals communicate with
each other, though to man these symbols of
language may not always be understandable.
Dogs give barks indicating surprise, pleasure
and all other emotions. Cows will bellow for
(75)  days when mourning for their dead.
Which of the following does the author NOT mention as an example of animal intelligence?
A. The construction of shelter against the environment.
B. The storing of food for the winter.
C. The communication of emotions.
D. The mimicking of the environment for protection.


Rephrase: What example is NOT given by the author?
Task: Eliminate examples that ARE mentioned in the passage.
Prediction: Let’s list the signs of intelligence provided by the passage:
1. Defense against enemies
2. Shelter against heat/cold
3. Building homes
4. Laying up food supply
5. Communication (signs, sounds, motions)
Now it’s easy to eliminate! A, B, and C clearly matches our predictions, so we can get rid of them. The correct answer is D.