The English ACT test is not simply based on grammar and writing skills. Instead, the ACT Exam tests your editing skills.
It presents you with five distinct passages and then measures your ability to fix grammatical errors and punctuations to improve your style and organization.
It may sound daunting, but do not worry because we are here to assist. To help you, we will discuss what to expect on the day of your ACT Exam and the strategies you require for scoring higher.
The English ACT test contains 75 questions with a time limit of 45 minutes. To achieve a high score, you will be required to understand the correct usage, sentence structure, and punctuation of standard English.
Lastly, it aims to test your knowledge of the language, like the choice of words, tone, and style.
Read on as we conduct a brief overview of the ACT:
Overview Of The Test
As mentioned, the ACT Test's English section contains five passages, followed by a series of multiple-choice questions.
Some of these questions discuss the paragraph's underlined portions, offering multiple alternatives to the part underlined. You have to decide the most appropriate choice within the context of the passage.
Additionally, some inquire about a passage's section, an underlined portion, or the whole passage. You will once again be pressed to select the choice that best answers the question.
All the questions are numbered sequentially. Furthermore, each question number corresponds to a numbered portion underlined or to a corresponding number in a box at the appropriate point in the passage.
Each given passage will discuss various rhetorical situations. The passages are chosen according to their relevance in assessing writing skills and reflecting students' experiences and interests.
Remember that there is no testing of the vocabulary, spelling, and rote recall of grammar rules.
Four scores are described for the ACT English Exam, with a total test score based on 75 questions and reporting categories.
Taking ACT English Test – 12 Practice Tips
Here are 12 tips for you to prepare for your ACT English test:
Set Your Pace
If you spend one and a half minutes going through each passage before answering the questions, you will only be left with 30 seconds to answer every question.
Try to spend less time on every question, and use the remaining time to review your work and revisit the most challenging questions. It is also advisable that you take the ACT English Practice Test beforehand to be better prepared.
However, it does not mean that you should rush. Make sure that you have read and understood the questions and sentences before marking the answers.
The better strategy is to guess in the end or skip time-consuming questions rather than rushing through the questions and making careless mistakes.
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Awareness Of The Writing Styles Used
The five passages cover various topics spanning diverse writing styles. Therefore, it is vital that you must take into account each passage's distinct writing style.
Additionally, when responding to a question, aim to understand the context of what is being asked. Consider how the sentence fits in with the underlined portion and the surrounding text.
Study The Underlined Portions
Before moving on to responding to the question with underlined portions, analyze the underlined text. You must consider the writing elements encompassed in the underlined part.
There are two basic approaches that you would be required to take when answering questions:
- Some questions will focus on the answer based on a particular writing element, like the emphasis and the tone
- Other questions will focus on choosing the alternatives to the underlined section that is LEAST or completely unacceptable
The answers for each question will include changes in one or more writing elements.
Awareness Of Questions Without The Underlined Portions
Not all questions will have an underlined part to be answered. Some questions are about a section or the whole passage, considering the rhetorical situation that is presented.
These questions are identified through a boxed number located at an appropriate point in the passage.
Questions on the complete passage are positioned towards the end and presented by a horizontal box with the instruction stating, "Questions ___ and ___ ask about the preceding passage as a whole."
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Note Differences In The Choices
Every test question tackles multiple writing aspects. Go through each answer choice and observe how it is different from the others.
Be cautious not to select an answer correcting an error but causing a different one. Ambiguity in context is how the test compels candidates to choose the wrong answer.
Conclude The Best Answer
When a question asks you to choose the best alternative to an underlined portion, you can use one of two approaches:
- Reread the sentences, substitute each possible choice of the answer for the underlined portion, one-by-one
- Decide the extent to which the underlined portion might be best phrased according to standard written English
If the portion underlined is already the best answer, choose "NO CHANGE."
If it is not, observe whether the way you would phrase it is one of the other choices. If you cannot find your phrasing, choose the best-presented answer.
For the questions indicated by a boxed number, decide the most appropriate choice regarding the provided situation or the questions posed.
Use Basic Grammatical Rules To Answer Grammar Questions
In the English ACT test, you must depend on your knowledge of basic grammatical rules to answer the grammar-related questions.
Do not play by ear or follow gut instinct regarding what sounds right, except for in idiom questions.
Many correct sentences may sound wrong to you, and vice-versa. Therefore, ensure that you are well aware of grammatical guidelines.
Reread The Sentence Using The Answer You Selected
Once you have selected the answer that you feel to be the best, reread the sentences, inserting the answer you chose at the suitable place.
Rereading it a few times will help you decide whether what you chose fits in with the required context.
Remember the 4 C's
Keep in mind the 4 C's. They are:
- Complete sentences: Beginning and ending a train of thought shows mastery of context
- Consistent: Everything has to be consistent
- Clarity: The meaning of the answer must be clear
- Concise: The best answer will be the most concise one
Even when you are having difficulty deciphering a complex question, apply the 4 C's and efficiently eliminate the answer choices.
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The Answers Speak
The answer choices often give away significant clues when identifying the question that is being asked.
Do you see a change in the words or pronunciation? Pay complete attention to what is changing and what is staying the same in the answers for figuring out potential errors.
If you hire a private tutor, you can practice looking for clues within the given answers through extensive trial and error.
Be Cautious of the Run-On Sentences
The comma splices are a typical mistake in writing; therefore, they might not look like mistakes to you in an ACT English test.
A comma splice is a particular type of run-on in which a comma joins the two independent clauses. Keep in mind that an independent clause can stand on its own as a whole sentence.
The addition of FANBOYS conjunction can fix comma splices, ultimately making one of the clauses dependent or by shifting comma to a semi-colon.
And if you don't know what FANBOYS conjunction is: it is an assistive acronym that stands for — For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, and So.
Only Answer The Question Being Asked
Even though this tip is quite obvious, it is pretty helpful when answering rhetorical questions.
Each question asks a specific thing. Focus on providing an answer choice that best answers the question instead of choosing one that seems possible or sounds right.
It is common for students to be confused regarding rhetorics. Since all the choices seem right, they randomly pick one that sounds complex and formal.
Focus on the question's wording. The correct answer would be the most precise and vivid.
Start Preparing For The ACT Today
If you're stressing about the fast-approaching ACT date, you can do one of two things:
- Spend every waking moment preparing for it, so you're not nervous going into it
- Hire a private tutor to ease your stress and ensure an excellent grade
The latter is quite convincing, especially if you use Superprof. We have a directory of qualified ACT and SAT instructors who will help you get the best grade possible!
Sign up today for an ACT English teacher who will shape the curriculum while keeping in mind your strengths and weaknesses!
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