ACT English

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The ACT English section tests students’ skills in American English grammar and style, as well as their reading comprehension. Students who do well on this section have a strong sense for clear, concise writing, can spot errant or unnecessary punctuation, and are able to quickly see which of the answer choices make a flawed sentence into a correct one.

Students can expect to read five passages and answer 75 multiple-choice questions in 45 minutes. Here’s a list of the different skills tested in this section:

Punctuation and grammar

  • Fragments and incomplete or run-on sentences
  • Verb conjugation
  • Subject/verb relationship
  • Possessives
  • Comparatives and superlatives
  • Idioms
  • Commas
  • Colons and semicolons
  • Conjunctions

Style and clarity

  • Precision vocabulary and word usage
  • Redundancy
  • Irrelevant information
  • Active vs. passive voice
  • Proximity and parallelism

Reading comprehension

  • Best conclusion to a sentence or paragraph
  • Most effective introduction
  • Transition sentences
  • Sentence or paragraph placement
  • Adding/deleting phrases or sentences
  • Would this essay fulfill the writer’s goal?
  • Most relevant information

Every year, my high school hosts international exchange students, those teenagers join our senior class.

A. NO CHANGE
B. students, he or she is invited to
C. students who
D. students they

Because the ACT tests these skills through usage instead of direct questioning, similarities with English class aren’t as simple as one might assume. For example, rather than ask students to fix an incomplete sentence, the ACT presents them with a faulty one and a few alternatives to the underlined portion:

Although we use written and spoken English every day, the right placement of commas, the proper conjunction or whether we’re speaking in the most active voice isn’t always at the front of our minds. When students don’t quickly see the error present, it is hard to spot the choice that fixes the problem.

Prepstar ACT prep classes and our private tutors will help students learn to see which concepts are being tested in each question. We give a thorough overview of the English material covered on the ACT, and, through practice and review, show how the ACT works to test these skills. This practice and review work effectively to build a strong eye for concise writing and pronunciation, and a confident, fact-based approach to reading comprehension.