The ACT English test uses passage-based questions to assess a student’s ability to edit short, nonfiction passages for accuracy in grammar and punctuation, and clarity in writing and editing. The passage will be printed on the left hand side of the page, with corresponding questions on the right side of the page. Students will be expected to make improvements to underlined phrases or sentences. Topics covered include Punctuation, Grammar and Usage, Sentence Structure, Rhetorical Strategy, Organization, and Writing Style. There are 5 passages on the English section with 15 questions per passage, totaling 75 questions which students must complete in 45 minutes.
Each multiple choice question will have 4 answer choices. On many questions, one answer choice will be “NO CHANGE”, so students should be prepared to recognize when improvement is not necessary. Questions are not arranged in any order of difficulty, so students should feel free to start with the passage they like best.
DO review grammar and punctuation rules.
Besides testing basic grammar concepts like subject-verb agreement, some questions will examine more obscure topics like comma and apostrophe usage.
DO make sure to understand the author’s point of view and the main idea of the passage.
Many questions will ask you to improve a sentence to “accomplish the author’s goal”, so it’s critical that you read the passage in full.
DO work quickly.
You should spend only 9 minutes per passage, or only 36 seconds per question, which is a very fast pace!
DON’T try to fix everything.
Many questions test parts of the passage that are not erroneous, so you should feel comfortable selecting “NO CHANGE” about 25% of the time.
DON’T complicate things.
Often, the best answer will be the shortest, most concise option. A good strategy is to check the shortest answer first and as long as it’s grammatically correct, select that one.
DON’T read the passage in full before starting the questions.
Since you’re short on time, read and answer corresponding questions simultaneously. This will also help you to understand the context of the question.
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