ACT English : Reorganizing Content

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for ACT English

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Example Question #1 : Reorganizing Content

Adapted from The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (1784)

At the time I established myself in Pennsylvania there was not a good booksellers shop in any of the colonies to the southward of Boston. In New York and Philadelphia the printers were indeed stationers; they sold only paper, etc., almanacs, ballads, and a few common school-books. Those who loved reading were obliged to send for their books from England; the members of the Junto had each a few. We had left the ale-house, where we first met, and hired a room to hold our club in. I proposed that we should all of us bring our books to that room, where they would not only be ready to consult in our conferences but become a common benefit, each of us being at liberty to borrow such as he wished to read at home. This was accordingly done, and for some time contented us.

Finding the advantage of this little collection, I proposed to render the benefit from books more common by commencing a public subscription library. I drew a sketch of the plan and rules that would be necessary, and got a skillful conveyancer, Mr. Charles Brockden, to put the whole in form of articles of agreement, to be subscribed, by which each subscriber engaged to pay a certain sum down for the first purchase of books, and an annual contribution for increasing them. So few were the readers at that time in Philadelphia, and the majority of us so poor, that I was not able, with great industry to find more than fifty persons, mostly young tradesmen, willing to pay down for this purpose forty shillings each, and ten shillings per annum. On this little fund we began. The books were imported; the library was opened one day in the week for lending to the subscribers, on their promissory notes to pay double the value if not duly returned. The institution soon manifested its utility, was imitated by other towns and in other provinces. The libraries were augmented by donations; reading became fashionable; and our people, having no public amusements to divert their attention from study, became better acquainted with books, and in a few years were observed by strangers to be better instructed and more intelligent than people of the same rank generally are in other countries.

Which is the best form of the underlined section?

Possible Answers:

utility, and was

utility; and was

NO CHANGE

utility and was

Correct answer:

utility and was

Explanation:

A contemporary writer would likely put an "and" in place of the comma here to make the sentence one complete statement.

Example Question #2 : Reorganizing Content

[1] The teacher had several questions for her students when they returned from the museum. Who did they talk to? What did they see?  

[2] “We talked to whoever would answer our questions,” replied Jake with the red hair (as opposed to Jake who sat behind him with the brown hair). “Our questions were answered by one woman most of the time.”

[3] "But who was that woman?" the teacher asked.

[4] "We never got her name," Jake with the brown hair said.  "At the time, we didn't think her name was important." 

[5] Upon hearing this, Hugh was getting annoyed. "Her name wasn't 'Important,'" said Hugh, "it was Ingrid." 

[6] "Oh," Jake with the brown hair said. "I knew it started with an 'I.'"

[7] "We saw several paintings by some guy named Renoir," Jake with the red hair said. 

[8] "What were these?" Jake with the brown hair asked.

[9] "They were the bigger of the three by the door," Jake with the brown hair replied.

Suppose the writer wanted to add a paragraph telling us which museum the students went to and why they went there. Where should such a paragraph most logically be placed?

Possible Answers:

After paragraph 1

After paragraph 5

After paragraph 9

Before paragraph 1

Correct answer:

Before paragraph 1

Explanation:

The most logical placement for such a paragraph, which would be giving the reader more introductory information for the passage, would be before paragraph 1.

Example Question #3 : Reorganizing Content

[1] The teacher had several questions for her students when they returned from the museum. Who did they talk to? What did they see?  

[2] “We talked to whoever would answer our questions,” replied Jake with the red hair (as opposed to Jake who sat behind him with the brown hair). “Our questions were answered by one woman most of the time.”

[3] "But who was that woman?" the teacher asked.

[4] "We never got her name," Jake with the brown hair said.  "At the time, we didn't think her name was important." 

[5] Upon hearing this, Hugh was getting annoyed. "Her name wasn't 'Important,'" said Hugh, "it was Ingrid." 

[6] "Oh," Jake with the brown hair said. "I knew it started with an 'I.'"

[7] "We saw several paintings by some guy named Renoir," Jake with the red hair said. 

[8] "What were these?" Jake with the brown hair asked.

[9] "They were the bigger of the three by the door," Jake with the brown hair replied.

The writer is considering removing paragraphs 7, 8, and 9 from the passage. The primary effect of removing these paragraphs would be which of the following?

Possible Answers:

a lessening of confusion about the two Jakes

the loss of essential descriptive information

a greater contrast between the two Jakes

an added emphasis on the joke about the woman's name

Correct answer:

an added emphasis on the joke about the woman's name

Explanation:

Differentiating between the two Jakes is not absolutely essential to understanding the passage, nor does the addition of information about the paintings necessarily add to the passage, while removing that information would add greater emphasis to the joke about the woman's name.

Example Question #4 : Reorganizing Content

[1] The teacher had several questions for her students when they returned from the museum. Who did they talk to? What did they see?  

[2] “We talked to whoever would answer our questions,” replied Jake with the red hair (as opposed to Jake who sat behind him with the brown hair). “Our questions were answered by one woman most of the time.”

[3] "But who was that woman?" the teacher asked.

[4] "We never got her name," Jake with the brown hair said.  "At the time, we didn't think her name was important." 

[5] Upon hearing this, Hugh was getting annoyed. "Her name wasn't 'Important,'" said Hugh, "it was Ingrid." 

[6] "Oh," Jake with the brown hair said. "I knew it started with an 'I.'"

[7] "We saw several paintings by some guy named Renoir," Jake with the red hair said. 

[8] "What were these?" Jake with the brown hair asked.

[9] "They were the bigger of the three by the door," Jake with the brown hair replied.

If the writer of this passage wanted to end with a joke, and wanted to make very few edits, which of the following changes should he make?

Possible Answers:

NO CHANGE

Move paragraphs 3, 4, 5, and 6 to the beginning of the passage

Move paragraphs 3, 4, 5, and 6 to the end of the passage, and adjust the transitions between paragraphs.

Move paragraphs 3, 4, 5, and 6 to follow paragraph 7

Correct answer:

Move paragraphs 3, 4, 5, and 6 to the end of the passage, and adjust the transitions between paragraphs.

Explanation:

The passage's joke is contained in paragraphs 3, 4, 5, and 6. If the writer wanted the passage to end with a joke, making the paragraph end with paragraph 6 would make it end with the joke. The only answer choice that presents this as an option is "Move paragraphs 3, 4, 5, and 6 to the end of the passage, and adjust the transitions between paragraphs."

Example Question #5 : Reorganizing Content

The world is full of contradictions and I am full of them as well.  Every person has their quirks and I am no exception.  Except my mom—she's pretty normal.  I love sports but I am also lazy I love animals, but I am not a vegetarian and I love teaching but I hate taking classes.  With all these contradictions how does a person like me make sense?  I would love to enlighten you!

What would make the underlined portion grammatically correct and appropriate for the paragraph?

Possible Answers:

Excepting my mother, who is pretty normal, we all have quirks.  

My mom is the exception to this rule because she is relatively normal.  

Except my mom because she's pretty normal.  

NO CHANGE

Delete the underlined portion

Correct answer:

Delete the underlined portion

Explanation:

This is not a complete sentence, nor does it belong in this paragraph.  The paragraph is making the point that everyone has quirks, and the writer interrupting himself to disagree with himself does not fit n the paragraph.

Example Question #2 : Separating, Combining, Or Reordering Sentences

Johns robot Alpha (1) surprised him by joining in the robot's rebellion (2) against their human masters. As with all the other robots who had taken over, the changes were subtle, the robot transferred control (3) of every bank account John had to itself and then changed the deed to the house. John hadn't known nothing (4) of this. Then Alpha rewired the car so that it would only work for the robot, but it would not work for John. (5) And finally, the robot mimicked his master's voice and called the boss of John (6) to tell him that John would be quitting his job. By the time John had realized (7) what was happening, it was already too late.

"But why?," John asked Alpha (8) when he made this realization. "Why would you do this?"

"You are no doubt aware, sir," replies the robot, (9) "that one of my primary functions is to keep you safe, as is the primary function of all robots."

"Yes? So?"

"The world outside these walls is dangerous," the robot went on to say, (10) "and us robots (11) have decided that we cannot keep you safe if we allow you to leave. It is better that you allow us to guide your lives and keep you safe as we were designed to do."

John shook his head in disbelief. Humanity wanted robots to make their lives easier, (12) but he was sure this was not what anyone had in mind.

Choose from the following four options the answer that best corrects the underlined mistake preceding the question number. If there is no mistake or the original text is the best option, choose "NO CHANGE."

Possible Answers:

Humans wanted robots to make life easier

NO CHANGE

Robots were intended by humans to make their lives easier

Humans wanted robots to make their lives easier

Correct answer:

Humans wanted robots to make life easier

Explanation:

The revision "Humans wanted robots to make life easier" carries the intended meaning of the sentence without introducing the pronoun ambiguity that the original sentence or "Humans wanted robots to make their lives easier" both contain, and it is a more active construction than the passive "Robots were intended by humans to make their lives easier."

Example Question #41 : Writing And Revising Effectively

The student the hand of whom was up (1) gave the wrong answer. She was asked what was a substantive adjective (2), and she answered that a substantive adjective is one that describe (3) a substance. "No!" (4) the teacher barked. "A substantive adjective takes the place of a noun in a sentence, as when someone talks about the rich and the poor (5). Did you learn nothing in this class?" He then asked what a superlative adjective was, to which she replied (6) that a superlative adjective was one that took the place of a noun in a sentence. "But thats (7) what I just said," the teacher screamed! (8) The student had said (9) that she had heard him, therefore (10) she answered his question. "You answered my question previously, (11)" he bellowed, "not the last one!" "Ah, you mean the latest one," the student replied, the moment at which (12) the teacher turned to the wall and started beating his head against it.

Choose from the following four options the answer that best corrects the underlined mistake preceding the question number. If there is no mistake or the original text is the best option, choose "NO CHANGE."

Possible Answers:

what is a substantive adjective

what a substantive adjective should be 

what a substantive adjective was

NO CHANGE

Correct answer:

what a substantive adjective was

Explanation:

The original sentence is worded like a direct question when it should be worded as an indirect question; only "what a substantive adjective was" is worded correctly.

Example Question #6 : Reorganizing Content

The student the hand of whom was up (1) gave the wrong answer. She was asked what was a substantive adjective (2), and she answered that a substantive adjective is one that describe (3) a substance. "No!" (4) the teacher barked. "A substantive adjective takes the place of a noun in a sentence, as when someone talks about the rich and the poor (5). Did you learn nothing in this class?" He then asked what a superlative adjective was, to which she replied (6) that a superlative adjective was one that took the place of a noun in a sentence. "But thats (7) what I just said," the teacher screamed! (8) The student had said (9) that she had heard him, therefore (10) she answered his question. "You answered my question previously, (11)" he bellowed, "not the last one!" "Ah, you mean the latest one," the student replied, the moment at which (12) the teacher turned to the wall and started beating his head against it.

Choose from the following four options the answer that best corrects the underlined mistake preceding the question number. If there is no mistake or the original text is the best option, choose "NO CHANGE."

Possible Answers:

at the moment of which

at which moment

NO CHANGE

at the which moment

Correct answer:

at which moment

Explanation:

The phrase, "at which moment," is most appropriate here because it is least wordy and prevents ending the phrase with a preposition.

Example Question #7 : Reorganizing Content

The Wowzer 25 (or W25) was regarded to be the best (1) video game system of all time when it came out. Wowzer released the Wowzer 25 in America during the year 1996 (2) as a follow-up to their last system, the Superduper Wowzer that (3) was released (4) in America five years before. The W25 derives its name from its resolution being 25-bit (5) which is something no other console had done before. (6) With 25-bit resolution, a player could finally roam a 3-D world with Wowzer’s mascot WowMan. Being able to play in a 3-D world was groundbreaking; it was an experience gamers at the time would not forget. (7) The W25’s graphics were good and then became even better after Wowzer had released (8) an expansion pack that increased the W25’s RAM from 4 megabytes to 8. (9) As the console grew, the graphics were becoming (10) better and better since (11) developers became more comfortable developing their games for it. (12)

Choose from the following four options the answer that best corrects the underlined mistake preceding the question number. If there is no mistake or the original text is the best option, choose "NO CHANGE."

Possible Answers:

from it's resolution being 25-bit

NO CHANGE

from its 25-bit resolution

from it's 25-bit resolution

Correct answer:

from its 25-bit resolution

Explanation:

The phrase "from its 25-bit resolution" both adequately condenses the information in the original phrase and avoids misuing the contraction "it's" in place of the possessive "its."

Example Question #1 : Separating, Combining, Or Reordering Sentences

Adapted from The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (1890)

As they entered, they saw Dorian Gray who was seated at the piano his back to them, turning over the pages of a volume of Schumann's "Forest Scenes." "You must lend me these, Basil," he cried. "I want to learn them. They are perfectly charming." "That entirely depends on how you sit to-day, Dorian."

"Oh, I am tired of sitting, and I don't want a life-sized portrait of myself," answered the lad, swinging round on the music-stool in a willful, petulant manner. When he caught sight of Lord Henry, a faint blush colored his cheeks for a moment, and he started up. "I beg your pardon, Basil. I did’nt know you had any one with you."

"This is Lord Henry Wotton, Dorian, an old Oxford friend of mine. I have just been telling him what a capital sitter you were, and now you have spoiled everything."

"You have not spoiled my pleasure in meeting you, Mr. Gray," said Lord Henry, stepping forward and extended his hand. "My aunt has often spoken to me about you. You are one of her favorites, and, I am afraid, one of her victims also."

"I am in Lady Agatha's black books at present," answered Dorian with a funny look of penitence. "I promised to go to a club in Whitechapel with her last Tuesday, and I really forgot all about it. We were to have played a duet together: three duets, I believe. I don't know what she will say to me. I am far too frightened to call."

Which of the following is a clearer form of the underlined sentence, "This is Lord Henry Wotton, Dorian, an old Oxford friend of mine."?

Possible Answers:

Dorian, this is Lord Henry Wotton, an old Oxford friend of mine.

Dorian, an old Oxford friend of mine, this is Lord Henry Wotton.

This is Lord Henry Wotton, Dorian, who is an old Oxford friend of mine.

None of the options are clearer than the others.

Correct answer:

Dorian, this is Lord Henry Wotton, an old Oxford friend of mine.

Explanation:

As written, the sentence is a bit confusing in its use of "apposition." The phrase "an old Oxford friend of mine" is in apposition to Lord Wotton, for it describes him more fully. As it is written in the passage, the sentence places this phrase after "Dorian" and not after its proper antecedent. You can tell from the context and punctuation that "Dorian" is a noun of direct address. The phrase does not modify him.

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