I’m really working on improving my ACT reading score (23). Something I am confused about is whether I should be reading the passage before looking at the questions, or reading all of the questions before reading the passage. What are the pros and cons of each?
The best thing you can do is test out each method individually on timed practice tests and see which one leads to a higher score. Some people do better with reading the passage first, and others have an easier time going straight for the questions. If you read the passage first, I would advocate skimming rather than doing a close read. That means reading the introduction, conclusion, and first and last sentences of each body paragraph. This strategy will give you a sense of the passage without sucking up too much of your time before you get to the questions.
One good thing about reading the passage first is that you'll feel less disoriented going into the questions and will have a better sense of the answers to questions that ask about the passage as a whole. A disadvantage is that it may take you longer than skipping straight to the questions and lead to more anxiety about time.
A potential advantage of going straight for the questions is that you'll know the specific content you need to look for in the passage ahead of time. A disadvantage is that questions about the main point of the passage will be more difficult to answer at first, and you may not fully understand some of the questions because you don't know their context. For more information on how to read ACT passages effectively, take a look at this article.