Text Complexity Rubric

Describing Reading Passages for ACT Aspire™ Grade 8, ACT Aspire Early High School, and the ACT® College Readiness Assessment

Literary Narratives: Stories and literary nonfiction

Somewhat Challenging Literary Narratives More Challenging Literary Narratives Complex Literary Narratives Highly Complex Literary Narratives

Purpose/Levels of Meaning

  • Have a largely straightforward purpose (chiefly literary nonfiction)
  • Contain literal and inferential levels of meaning (chiefly stories)

Purpose/Levels of Meaning

  • Have a largely straightforward to somewhat complex purpose (chiefly literary nonfiction)
  • Contain literal, inferential, and interpretive levels of meaning (chiefly stories)

Purpose/Levels of Meaning

  • Have a somewhat complex to complex purpose; apparent purpose may differ from real purpose (chiefly literary nonfiction)
  • Contain literal, inferential, and interpretive levels of meaning (chiefly stories)

Purpose/Levels of Meaning

  • Have a complex purpose; apparent purpose may differ from real purpose (chiefly literary nonfiction)
  • Contain literal, inferential, and interpretive levels of meaning (chiefly stories)

Structure

  • Use a mostly straightforward structure and a wide range of transitions (chiefly literary nonfiction)
  • Offer insights into people, situations, and events (e.g., motives)
  • May contain subplots, flashbacks, and flash-forwards (chiefly stories)
  • Explore largely straightforward conflicts that may be internal or external (chiefly stories)
  • May have multiple narrators, with switches clearly signaled; main characters exhibit growth and change (chiefly stories)

Structure

  • Use a somewhat complex structure and a full range of transitions (chiefly literary nonfiction)
  • Offer deep insights into people, situations, and events (e.g., motives in conflict)
  • May contain numerous subplots, flashbacks, and flash-forwards as well as parallel and nonlinear plots; may lack clear resolution (chiefly stories)
  • Explore subtle conflicts that may be internal or external (chiefly stories)
  • May have multiple narrators; main characters are well rounded (chiefly stories)

Structure

  • Use a complex structure (chiefly literary nonfiction)
  • Offer sophisticated and profound insights into people, situations, and events (e.g., philosophical commentary)
  • May contain numerous subplots, flashbacks, and flash-forwards as well as parallel and nonlinear plots; may lack clear resolution (chiefly stories)
  • Explore complex conflicts that are largely internal and lack an obvious or easy resolution (e.g., moral dilemmas) (chiefly stories)
  • May have multiple and/or unreliable narrator(s); main characters are well rounded (chiefly stories)

Structure

  • Use a highly complex structure (chiefly literary nonfiction)
  • Offer sophisticated and profound insights into people, situations, and events (e.g., philosophical commentary)
  • Contain plots that are intricate, nonlinear, and/or difficult to discern; may lack resolution or may not be plot driven (chiefly stories)
  • Explore complex conflicts that are largely internal and lack an obvious or easy resolution (e.g., moral dilemmas) (chiefly stories)
  • May have multiple and/or unreliable narrator(s); main characters are well rounded (chiefly stories)

Language

  • Use some uncommon words and phrases (e.g., general academic [tier 2] words, archaic words, dialect)
  • Use varied sentence structures significantly more or less formal than in everyday language
  • Use some somewhat challenging nonliteral and figurative language and literary devices (e.g., symbols, irony)
  • Observe language conventions (e.g., standard paragraph breaks) (chiefly stories)

Language

  • Use some uncommon words and phrases (e.g., general academic [tier 2] words, archaic words, dialect)
  • Use varied, often complex, and formal sentence structures, with texts from earlier time periods containing structures uncommon in more modern reading
  • Consistently use somewhat challenging nonliteral and figurative language and literary devices (e.g., symbols, irony)
  • Largely observe language conventions, with some unconventional elements possible (e.g., dialogue marked with dashes) (chiefly stories)

Language

  • Consistently use uncommon words and phrases (e.g., general academic [tier 2] words, archaic words, dialect)
  • Use varied, often complex, and formal sentence structures, with texts from earlier time periods containing structures uncommon in more modern reading
  • Consistently use challenging nonliteral and figurative language and literary devices (e.g., extended metaphors, satire, parody)
  • May use unconventional language structures (e.g., stream-of-consciousness)

Language

  • Extensively use uncommon words and phrases (e.g., general academic [tier 2] words, archaic words, dialect)
  • Use varied, often complex, and formal sentence structures, with texts from earlier time periods containing structures uncommon in more modern reading
  • Extensively use challenging nonliteral and figurative language and literary devices (e.g., extended metaphors, satire, parody)
  • Use unconventional language structures (e.g., stream-of-consciousness)

Abstractness (chiefly literary nonfiction)

  • Depict some abstract ideas and concepts that may be important to understanding the text

Abstractness (chiefly literary nonfiction)

  • Depict several abstract ideas and concepts that are essential to understanding the text

Abstractness (chiefly literary nonfiction)

  • Depict numerous abstract ideas and concepts that are essential to understanding the text

Abstractness (chiefly literary nonfiction)

  • Depict numerous abstract ideas and concepts that are essential to understanding the text

Density (chiefly literary nonfiction)

  • Have moderate information/concept density

Density (chiefly literary nonfiction)

  • Have moderately high information/concept density

Density (chiefly literary nonfiction)

  • Have high information/concept density

Density (chiefly literary nonfiction)

  • Have very high information/concept density

Knowledge Demands: Textual Analysis; Life Experiences; Cultural and Literary Knowledge

  • Assume readers can read on literal and inferential levels
  • Assume readers can handle somewhat challenging themes and subject matter with some maturity and objectivity
  • Assume readers can relate to experiences outside of their own
  • Call on cultural or literary knowledge to some extent
  • Have low intertextuality (i.e., make no/few or unimportant connections to other texts); drawing connections between texts at the level of theme may enhance understanding and appreciation

Knowledge Demands: Textual Analysis; Life Experiences; Cultural and Literary Knowledge

  • Assume readers can read on literal, inferential, and interpretive levels
  • Assume readers can handle somewhat challenging themes and subject matter with some maturity and objectivity
  • Assume readers can relate to experiences distinctly different from their own
  • Call on cultural or literary knowledge to some extent
  • Have moderate intertextuality (i.e., make some important connections to other texts); drawing connections between texts may enhance understanding and appreciation

Knowledge Demands: Textual Analysis; Life Experiences; Cultural and Literary Knowledge

  • Assume readers can read on literal, inferential, and interpretive levels
  • Assume readers can handle challenging themes and subject matter with maturity and objectivity
  • Assume readers can relate to experiences distinctly different from their own
  • Call on cultural or literary knowledge to some extent
  • Have moderate intertextuality (i.e., make some important connections to other texts); drawing connections between texts may enhance understanding and appreciation

Knowledge Demands: Textual Analysis; Life Experiences; Cultural and Literary Knowledge

  • Assume readers can read on literal, inferential, and interpretive levels
  • Assume readers can handle complex themes and subject matter with maturity and objectivity
  • Assume readers can relate to experiences distinctly different from their own
  • Require cultural or literary knowledge for full comprehension
  • Have high intertextuality (i.e., make many important connections to other texts); drawing connections between texts is essential for full understanding and appreciation

Informational Texts: Social science, humanities, and natural science

Somewhat Challenging Informational Texts More Challenging Informational Texts Complex Informational Texts Highly Complex Informational Texts

Purpose

  • Have a largely straightforward purpose

Purpose

  • Have a largely straightforward to somewhat complex purpose

Purpose

  • Have a somewhat complex to complex purpose; apparent purpose may differ from real purpose

Purpose

  • Have a complex purpose; apparent purpose may differ from real purpose

Structure

  • Use a mostly straightforward structure and a wide range of transitions
  • Exhibit norms and conventions of a general discipline (e.g., natural science)

Structure

  • Use a somewhat complex structure and a full range of transitions
  • Exhibit norms and conventions of a general discipline (e.g., natural science)

Structure

  • Use a complex structure
  • Exhibit norms and conventions of a general discipline (e.g., natural science)

Structure

  • Use a highly complex and possibly highly formalized structure (e.g., journal article)
  • Exhibit norms and conventions of a specific discipline (e.g., biology)

Language

  • Use some general academic [tier 2] and domain-specific [tier 3] words and phrases
  • Use varied and some long and complicated sentence structures

Language

  • Consistently use general academic [tier 2] and domain-specific [tier 3] words and phrases
  • Use varied and often complex sentence structures, with consistent use of long and complicated structures

Language

  • Consistently use general academic [tier 2] and domain-specific [tier 3] words and phrases
  • Use varied and often complex sentence structures, with consistent use of long and complicated structures

Language

  • Extensively use general academic [tier 2] and domain-specific [tier 3] words and phrases
  • Use varied and often complex sentence structures, with consistent use of long and complicated structures

Abstractness

  • Depict some abstract ideas and concepts that may be important to understanding the text

Abstractness

  • Depict several abstract ideas and concepts that are essential to understanding the text

Abstractness

  • Depict numerous abstract ideas and concepts that are essential to understanding the text

Abstractness

  • Depict numerous abstract ideas and concepts that are essential to understanding the text

Density

  • Have moderate information/concept density

Density

  • Have moderately high information/concept density

Density

  • Have high information/concept density

Density

  • Have very high information/concept density

Knowledge Demands: Textual Analysis; Life Experiences; Content and Discipline Knowledge

  • Assume readers can read on literal and inferential levels
  • Assume readers can handle somewhat challenging subject matter, including perspectives, values, and ideas unlike their own, with some maturity and objectivity
  • Assume readers have everyday knowledge and some broad content knowledge, with texts at the high end of the range assuming some content knowledge
  • Have low intertextuality (i.e., make no/few or unimportant connections to other texts); drawing connections between texts at the level of general concept may enhance understanding

Knowledge Demands: Textual Analysis; Life Experiences; Content and Discipline Knowledge

  • Assume readers can read on literal, inferential, and evaluative levels
  • Assume readers can handle somewhat challenging subject matter, including perspectives, values, and ideas unlike their own, with some maturity and objectivity
  • Assume readers have some content knowledge, with texts at the high end of the range assuming some discipline-specific content knowledge
  • Have moderate intertextuality (i.e., make some important connections to other texts); drawing connections between texts may enhance understanding

Knowledge Demands: Textual Analysis; Life Experiences; Content and Discipline Knowledge

  • Assume readers can read on literal, inferential, and evaluative levels
  • Assume readers can handle challenging subject matter, including perspectives, values, and ideas in opposition to their own, with maturity and objectivity
  • Assume readers have some discipline-specific content knowledge
  • Have moderate intertextuality (i.e., make some important connections to other texts); drawing connections between texts may enhance understanding

Knowledge Demands: Textual Analysis; Life Experiences; Content and Discipline Knowledge

  • Assume readers can read on literal, inferential, and evaluative levels
  • Assume readers can handle complex subject matter, including perspectives, values, and ideas in opposition to their own, with maturity and objectivity
  • Assume readers have extensive discipline-specific content knowledge, often in specialized subjects or areas
  • Have high intertextuality (i.e., make many important connections to other texts); drawing connections between texts is essential for full understanding