Strategies for the ACT English Test

Recommended Reading:  Barron's ACT English, Reading, and Writing Workbook [Paperback] Linda Carnevale M.A. (Author)
Recommended Reading: Barron’s ACT English, Reading, and Writing Workbook [Paperback]
Linda Carnevale M.A. (Author)
 It’s that time of year again. College applications are flowing out of high school students and parents are getting nervous. testing is a huge part of the formula, so here are some suggestions and resources  to help keep nerves calm:

Barron’s ACT English, Reading, and Writing Workbook by Linda Carnevale gives college-bound students extensive practice and review that will help them excel on all three verbal sections and all four reading genres of the ACT. An introductory overview explains the formats for the English Test, the Reading Test, and the Writing Test. A full-length self-assessment test follows with an answer key and explanations to help students assess their strengths and weaknesses. Succeeding chapters review the subject matter of all three tests and present drills, strategies, practice questions, study advice, and test-taking tips. Students review English grammar, punctuation, and style. They sharpen their reading comprehension with practice passages in the Humanities, Natural Science, Prose Fiction, and Social Science. Finally, they hone their essay-writing skills, guided by the author’s instruction in organizing their ideas, writing a rough draft, and editing the finished essay. A final chapter presents a full-length practice test with answers and explanations.

The Grokit website says:

1. Think simple.  As far as the ACT is concerned, the best writing uses the fewest possible number of words to convey an idea.  This doesn’t always mean the shortest answer is the best answer–sometimes more words are needed in order for a phrase or sentence to be grammatically correct.  But in general avoid answer choices that seem wordy.  The best answers are concise and clear.

2. Take the whole sentence into account.  It’s easy to read just the underlined portion the question asks about, or maybe just the clause that the underlined portion is a part of.  However, many times the other clause or clauses in the sentence can affect your answer.  For example, if the other clause is an independent clause, you will need to make sure that the underlined portion does not create a comma splice with another independent clause.  Read the whole sentence to yourself and you will be less likely to overlook an error.

ACT English Scoring

Just like the other sections, the ACT English section can earn you between 1 and 36 points. This score will be averaged with the scores from the other multiple-choice sections (Math, Science Reasoning and Reading) to get you your Composite ACT score. You’ll also get a subscore for both the Usage/Mechanics and Rhetorical skills subcategories between 1 and 18. These subscores having nothing whatsoever to do with your overall score, and most colleges and universities will not care what your subscores are. Strange, but true. The average ACT English score is about a 21, but you’ll have to do much better than that if you’d like to hit up a top university for admissions acceptance – more like between a 30 and 34.  Source:


VIDEO: Proper use of pronouns

 10 Tips for the ACT English Test

  1. Skim an English passage before starting work on the questions
  2. On questions that ask you to judge a passage, lean toward selecting a choice that favors it
  3. Choose answers that match the level of formality of the entire passage
  4. The best way to write something is the shortest correct way of writing it
  5. If you speak a “nonstandard” dialect, be extra careful with questions that focus on idioms
  6. Watch for subject-verb and noun-pronoun agreement
  7. Make sure parenthetical phrases begin and end with the same punctuation mark
  8. Look out for sentence fragments and run-on sentences
  9. Make sure that nouns and pronouns are modified by adjectives, and that verbs and adjectives are modified by adverbs
  10. Learn the difference between it’s and its

Source: Kaplan Test Prep


VIDEO: English Grammar – Adjectives & Adverbs

VIDEO: How to Use Commas in English Writing

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