If you're a high school student, you may have to take the ACT exam sometime soon.
It's one of the two college placement exams in the United States and is essential for individuals who want to go to college.
The ACT is pretty similar to the SAT exam, and it's long been considered an alternative to the latter. Like its competitor, the ACT comprises different sections, such as math, reading, and English.
We'll be talking about the ACT English exam section and how you can go about preparing for it. Keep in mind that the ACT English test is not a test of your grammar or writing skills.
Instead, the ACT tests students for their ability to identify grammar and punctuation errors and how they improve the style and organization of written passages.
Read on as we discuss what you need to focus on to get that top score in your ACT:
You can expect to see five passages in the English ACT test on topics that range from historical essays to personal narratives.
The English component is usually the first section in the ACT exam, and the overall pattern is similar to most English tests: testing candidates on reading and grammar.
Additionally, the English ACT test comprises 75 multiple choice questions with a total time limit of 45 minutes.
As mentioned, candidates will be given five reading passages, where portions of the passages will be underlined, and they will have to proofread and edit each answer.
They must pick out possible discrepancies and inconsistencies within the answer or leave it as it is if they deem it correct. Remember that "No Change" is a legitimate answer in the ACT format.
While candidates must edit some answers, they might have to cut, reorder and add text in some other questions.
Furthermore, some questions might ask them to evaluate complete passages instead of selected underlined texts.
They must choose the correct answer from multiple choices or leave it unchanged under the previously discussed "No Change" option.
These questions seek to evaluate the candidate's grammatical knowledge, and it is judged through punctuation, usage conventions, and sentence structure.
In some questions, candidates will be tested on punctuation conventions, where they must identify the proper forms of punctuations and where they must be used.
In other questions, candidates will be tested on usage conventions and sentence structure. They must identify the correct usage of words to express ideas and the right way to compose sentences.
Moreover, in the sentence structure and formation questions, you must know how to use modifiers and where they should be placed, how different clauses interact with sections of a sentence and themselves, and other related concepts.
After that, you will be tested on other categories, such as the "Knowledge of Language." Here, you will have to deal with words and phrases that help develop a particular tone to convey the question's desired meaning.
Candidates will have to inspect words within the text and decide whether they enhance the passage or if they need to be replaced with a better word. This section will make up around 15-17% of the test.
In another portion, the candidates will have to deal with the writing process and utilize rhetorical devices. This is one part that you will actively have to prepare for.
They must put together a written piece in a coherent style that effectively puts across the intended meaning and makes sense. This section will make up for another 29 to 33% of the test.
In the writing section, candidates will be judged on the cohesion and organization of their piece. Their writing should feature techniques and devices that emphasize the contextual flow.
Lastly, the topic development portion features a close examination of rhetoric and its relevance to the intended topic and context.
Candidates must know how to use their knowledge to connect relevance to the main idea and whether it fulfills the author's intended purpose.
Although hiring a private tutor will help you understand the pattern better than anything else, it pays to do your research and be ahead of the curve.
Tips To Ace The ACT English Test
Here are some essential tips to help you excel in your ACT English test, try them out when practicing, to understand how to execute the actual test:
Proper Sentence Structure
Always remember to write in complete sentences and avoid sentence fragments, runoffs, and incomplete endings.
Having consistency in your answers and avoiding conflicting information is the mark of an English writing pro.
Also, it's vital to maintain unambiguity and clarifying context. The best answer is the one that's without errors, even if it is short and concise.
Focus On Grammar
When it comes to grammar-based questions, you don't necessarily have to memorize your grammar book to ace the ACT test.
All you need to remember is to be confident in your usage and know the grammar rules that will be tested. It's a good idea to review some of the essential grammar rules and concepts, such as:
- Subject-verb agreement
- Pronoun agreement
- Adjectives and adverbs
- Comparisons and superlatives
Look For Clues With-In The Answers
The correct answer can often be deduced from the given multiple choices. The solutions provided can offer you clues about what the question is asking you to identify.
Keep an eye out for minor differences between the answers. Do you notice any changes in punctuation or grammar? Do the changes help you identify any potential errors?
Go through official ACT practice material to perfect your clue-finding skills.
Use Your Instincts
Readout each question to see if it feels unnatural – your ear is pretty good at identifying awkward phrases and incorrect grammar – so go by your instinct and verify what you think by checking the answers for error.
If you feel the query is not phrased correctly, go over the answers and use the elimination process. However, it's important to note that some errors can pass you by even after you read them out loud, so always try and investigate further.
The Elimination Method
The elimination method works pretty well. It's possible that you might have identified some errors but find yourself stuck between two different choices.
After you've identified an error, it's a good idea to eliminate all the choices that do not fix the error.
Rely On "No Change"
Do remember that "No Change" is a legitimate answer in the ACT test.
If you feel that there is nothing wrong with the answer, do not rack your brains trying to look for something that may be out of place. This will lead to you creating a problem where there isn't one.
The correct answer can be "No Change."
How Is The ACT English Exam Scored?
Every subject and subsection of the ACT exam has a minimum score of 1 and a maximum score of 36.
The overall composite score of the entire test is calculated by taking the average score from each subject section.
However, the English ACT test receives an additional subscore, which spans a range of 1 to 18.
The English section's total score is combined with the Writing and Reading score to form a cumulative ELA score (English Language Arts).
Keep in mind that wrong answers are not penalized, and candidates have the liberty of taking guesses.
Furthermore, every correct answer offers one point to the candidate.
The English ACT's average score is approximately 20, which is higher than the average score of 18 for the complete ACT exam.
To avoid disappointments in the future, you should aim to target the average score as a minimum.
Once you've taken the exam, the results may take approximately two weeks to arrive, and if you're not satisfied with the outcome, you can opt for a retest at a later date.
As a college aspirant, the ACT is an integral part of the application process, and you must use all the resources available to achieve your target score.
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