ACT English Tips

At first, the English section of the ACT may seem insurmountable. You must select the best and most grammatically sound option from complex and sophisticated choices. At times, it may seem as though each answer is equally correct or incorrect. You will also be asked about the purpose, organization, and style of passages, which may be dense and difficult to understand. If you struggle in english you may want to consider an ACT english tutor who can help you with your studies or a prep book. However, there are several strategies you can apply to the English portion of the ACT in order to make questions more comprehensible and to maximize your score:

1.    Answer simple questions first

Questions in the English section are ordered by their location within the passages, not their difficulty. As you progress through the selection, address easy questions first – generally, these are ones that ask about grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure. Skip the more difficult problems – those that ask large questions about the main point of the passage or the purpose of the author – until you finish reading the piece and have a strong sense of its meaning. If you are stopped by a particular question, move on – you will earn the same points for problems irrespective of difficulty, so do not waste your time on one when you could be quickly answering two or three in the same amount of time. Here are some great tips on how to prep for the ACT english section that you may find useful.

2.    Context is important

Even when you are correcting grammar or sentence structure, it may be helpful to understand the larger context. If the answer has correct grammar but changes the meaning of the sentence or phrase, it is most certainly the wrong choice. If the underlined portion is only several words in length, read the entire sentence; if a sentence is underlined, skim the sentence immediately before and after in order to locate the context. 

3.    Finish the passage before moving on

Time is crucial on this section and the ACT as a whole. Here, questions are related to one of five reading passages. If you return to a question later, you will most likely have to reread the selection to remember its content. This wastes valuable time. Instead, answer all questions in the passage before addressing the next piece, even if you have to make educated guesses. This is some great information on how the ACT is scored that you may want to take a look a before taking the test.

4.    Embrace the “No Change” answer

On usage and mechanics questions in the English portion, you are presented with the option of choosing the original form of the underlined portion as the correct answer. Since the ACT gives equal odds to each answer choice on the exam, there is a 25% chance that “No Change” will be the correct response. Often, students are compelled to always choose another answer, or to believe that the “No Change” option is a trap. However, it is the valid choice one out of four times, so be certain to consider it when answering problems.

5.    Eliminate answer choices

This is a useful tip on all the sections of the ACT. Consider all four answers and then eliminate those that are clearly wrong. You will not have to compare all the possibilities in order to determine the correct one. Nor will you be influenced by an incorrect answer that is addressing a different grammatical concept or that is changing the meaning of the underlined portion. You may want to take a few ACT practice tests to help you prepare as well.