How To Prep For The ACT English Section

ACT English: 75 questions in 45 minutes

First off: don’t panic.  You don’t have to memorize every last bit of English grammar in the world.  That would take far too long and be confusing in the long run.  Rather, break down your knowledge in several sections and strategies that will help you score the best you can. You may also want to consider taking a few ACT practice tests or reviewing a prep book to help you prepare.


 -        Semi-colons: Used like periods in that they separate two complete sentences.  The only catch is that these sentences should be related to each other.  The most important part here is that there must be a complete sentence on either side of the semi-colon.

-        Commas: A comma is used to separate a complete and incomplete thought.  Unless, the comma goes before a conjunction.  Use the device F(or)A(nd)N(or)B(ut)O(r)Y(et)S(o) here.

Example: The dinosaur ran down the street, and it terrified everyone.

There is a comma before the conjunction, so either side of the word “and” must be a complete sentence.  If you do not see a FANBOYS word there MUST be a complete and incomplete clause on either side of the comma.

-        Apostrophes: Are used to show possession.  For a singular noun, the apostrophe goes before the “s.”  For a plural noun, the apostrophe goes after.

Singular: The girl’s book.

Plural: The girls’ books.

-        It’s/its: Different than the typical way to use an apostrophe.

It’s: it is

Its: shows possession, something belongs to it

Its’: NOT A WORD.  Don’t use ever.


 One of the things the ACT tests is which answer is not only correct but also the most concise.  When two of the choices are wordier than the other two, immediately get suspicious.  If the two long choices sound right and the short one sounds right, then choose the short one.  Whenever fewer words will do, that will be the right answer.  The longer answers might be technically correct, but going concise is the better option!

 Rhetorical Questions

 These questions ask if a sentence should be added to an essay, or a sentence should be taken out, or how the sentences should be ordered.  For rhetorical questions, try to analyze what you think the answer is before looking at the answer choices.  With two “yes” and two “no” options, decide first if the answer is “yes” or “no” and then ignore the two choices that do not match your decision.  If asked about the main idea, determine the main idea before looking at the answer choices, otherwise the choices might be confusing.