How To Get A Perfect 36 On The ACT English

January 20, 2018

 

In this post, I will cover the grammar rules and strategies that you will need to know to achieve a perfect 36 on the ACT English Test.  Even if you do not think that you can get a perfect 36 on the English Test, this article will help every student raise their English ACT Score by 1-3 points.

 

 

 

This post will focus on the less commonly known grammar rules that are featured on almost every ACT. I will teach you the rules, show some tricks, and give you examples of how these questions appear on the ACT.  These questions are often some of the most difficult questions for students on the ACT English Test, but with some studying you can learn how to get them right every time.  

 

 

All of the most important rules and tricks that you should memorize will be highlighted in red.     

 

Topics covered in the post are:

  • The 5 Types Of Compound Sentences

  • 4 Types of Commas

  • Commas and Adjectives

  • Commas and Names

  • Colons

  • Dashes

  • Who vs. Whom

  • Misplaced Modifiers

The 5 Types of Compound Sentences

 

On the ACT, you will need to be familiar with the rules for how to punctuate compound sentences (sentences with more than one subject and predicate).  Remember that an independent clause can stand alone as a sentence while a dependent clause cannot.

 

 

You should memorize the rules for the 5 types of sentences below.

 

Semicolons:  Remember that semicolons separate two independent sentences.  On the ACT, if you can replace a semicolon with a period, it works.  If you cannot replace a semicolon with a period, it is wrong.

 

Semicolon = Period

 

 

    

Practice:

 

 

Scroll down for the answers and explanations: 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Answers:

 

1)  D    

 

Both sentences are independent, so only D correctly joins them with a semicolon (rule #3).  A is incorrect because you cannot join two independent sentences with just a comma.  B is incorrect because the second part of the sentence cannot stand alone.  C is incorrect because it would need a comma before the "and" to follow the Comma + FANBOYS rule (rule #2).  

 

 

2) C

 

The first part of the sentence is dependent, and the second part is independent.  The comma correctly links these sentences correctly (rule #4).  A is incorrect because it is a sentence fragment.  B is incorrect because the first part cannot stand alone as a sentence.  D is incorrect because the verb "standing" is not correct.  

 

 

3) B

 

The semicolon correctly links the two independent sentences (rule #3).  The comma after "however" separates "however" as extra information and makes the second sentence independent, so the punctuation works correctly.  A is incorrect because it is a run-on without the semicolon.  C is incorrect because the second part is dependent and cannot be linked with a comma.  D is incorrect because the comma should be before not after the word "so" (rule #2).  

 

 

4) A

 

The Comma + FANBOYS (but) properly works between the independent sentences (rule #2).  B is incorrect because the there should be no comma before however.  C is incorrect because it is missing the comma before "but."  D is incorrect because the second part of the sentence is not independent.        

 

 

 

 

The 4 Types of Commas (and how to use them)

Commas on the ACT will always be one of the four types of commas listed below.  We will cover the basics for each type of comma.   

  1. Comma + FANBOYS

  2. Dependent, Independent

  3. Lists

  4. Unnecessary Information

 

 

 

Comma + FANBOYS:

 

Two independent sentences can be joined with a comma and a FANBOYS.  You will need to memorize the FANBOYS for the test.  

 

For   And   Nor   But  Or   Yet   So

 

 

Here are some examples of FANBOYS being used correctly:

 

Weary from the long day of travel, the boys wanted to go right to sleep, but they still had three more hours of driving until the hotel.  

 

Timothy demanded a refund, for his pizza had arrived cold.  

 

The entire staff was excited for the restaurant's opening day, so they arrived early to work this morning.  

 

 

 

Practice:  Determine if the following sentences are correct or incorrect.  If incorrect, add or remove punctuation or change the words to fix. 

 

 

1)  Following the instructions, Tommy peeled off the protective plastic wrap for all of the pieces, and began assembling the base for the storage shed.  

 

2)  Some people believe that beechwood is the best type of wood for smoking fish, however I know from experience that it is not nearly as good as cedar.  

 

3)  The golden retriever destroyed his bed over and over again, yet his owners kept on buying him a new one each week.  

 

 

Scroll down for answers and explanations.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Answers:

 

1)  Incorrect.  

 

Correct:  Following the instructions, Tommy peeled off the protective plastic wrap for all of the pieces and began assembling the base for the storage shed.

 

There is no comma necessary.  Here the "and" is acting as a list of two and not a FANBOYS since the sentence is just telling us two things that Tommy did.  

 

 

2)  Incorrect.  

 

Correct:  Some people believe that beechwood is the best type of wood for smoking fish, but I know from experience that it is not nearly as good as cedar.

 

Correct:  Some people believe that beechwood is the best type of wood for smoking fish however I know from experience that it is not nearly as good as cedar.

 

"However" is not a FANBOYS, so we need to replace it with comma + FANBOYS.  Removing the comma and leaving however would also be correct.

 

 

3) Correct

 

"Yet" is properly used as a comma + FANBOYS.   

 

 

 

Dependent, Independent:

 

Any dependent clause must be linked to an independent clause with a comma.  

 

 

Here are some example of the dependent, independent commas being used correctly:  

 

 

Although he could not prove it, Horace was convinced that Emma took the last cookie.  

 

Because the filet was not served medium-rare, it was given to the customer for free.

 

When the rain washes bacteria and trash into the ocean, it is recommended that you stay out of the water for at least 72 hours.  

 

 

 

Practice:  Determine if the following sentences are correct or incorrect.  If incorrect, add or remove punctuation or change the words to fix.  

 

1) After he learned how to properly bait the hook, and catch a fish Larry went down to the pond every morning.  

 

2)  While some people cannot believe in miracles, I know they exist after watching the Patriots' comeback in the Super Bowl.  

 

Scroll down for answers and explanations.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Answers:

 

1) Incorrect

 

Correct:  After he learned how to properly bait the hook and catch a fish, Larry went down to the pond every morning.

 

The comma was not correctly placed at the end of the dependent clause.  

 

 

2) Correct

 

The comma links a dependent clause to an independent.  

 

 

 

 

Lists:

 

 

Commas are used to separate multiple items in a list.  The list can be a traditional list or multiple adjectives that modify the same noun.  

 

I ordered a turkey sandwich with onions, lettuce, and avocado.  

 

The wet, tired dog swam across the cold, dirty water.              Remember to use commas in lists

 

 

Be careful of lists of two items and FANBOYS.  Certain FANBOYS (and, or, nor, but) can be used for lists of two things.  The ACT will try to trick you and put a comma between a list of two items...it does not need to be there!  Both of the sentences below are correct:    

 

The family ordered drinks for everyone at the table and then passed around the bread.  

 

The family ordered drinks for everyone at the table, and they then passed around the bread.   

 

 

We will talk more about lists of adjectives with and without commas later on when we talk about the "Switching" rule.  

 

 

Practice: Determine if the following sentences are correct or incorrect.  If incorrect, add or remove punctuation or change the words to fix. 

 

1)  Ken is extremely busy running for mayor organizing the city's holiday parade, and managing his own small business.  

 

2)  The delicious sweet brownies were topped with nuts, frosting, and powdered sugar.

 

 

Scroll down for answer and explanations.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Answers:

 

1) Incorrect

 

Correct:  Ken is extremely busy running for mayor, organizing the city's holiday parade, and managing his own small business.  

 

We need commas to separate the list of things that Ken is doing.  

 

 

2) Incorrect

 

Correct:  The delicious, sweet brownies were topped with nuts, frosting, and powdered sugar.

 

The two adjectives "delicious" and "sweet" need to be separated by a comma.  

 

   

 

 

Unnecessary Information:

 

Unnecessary information commas are the most common and most difficult type on the ACT.  These commas are used to separate information that is extra to the sentence.  

 

Spotting extra information will help you know when to use commas.  

 

 

Unnecessary information can be taken out of the sentence entirely.  To be correct, the remaining parts of the sentence must be a complete sentence.  

 

 

Notice how we can take the underlined information out of the following sentences and still be left with a functioning sentence.  

 

Sitting behind the table, Mark waiting to jump out and surprise his mother.  

 

Andrew grabbed his favorite surf board, the blue and green one, and paddled out.  

 

The truth, however, was not revealed until the next season.  

    

 

"Crossing-Out" Trick - whenever you are dealing with unnecessary information commas, use the "Crossing-Out" trick to find out which answer is correct.  

  

 

 

Practice:  Determine if the following sentences are correct or incorrect.  If incorrect, add or remove punctuation or change the words to fix. 

 

 

1)  Last summer, the local flooding caused by a breach in the Reynolds Dam resulted in over ten thousand dollars of damage.

 

2)  At first glance, the cuttlefish, which can change colors to blend into its environment looked just like the brain coral behind it. 

 

3) The fisherman carrying their catch walked into the Seattle fish market, a place famous for how the vendors throw fish, to entertain customers.

 

 

Scroll down for answers and explanations:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Answers:    

 

1) Correct

 

The first comma is setting apart "last summer" as extra information.  Everything else in the sentence is necessary. 

 

 

2)  Incorrect

 

Correct:  At first glance, the cuttlefish, which can change colors to blend into its environment, looked just like the brain coral behind it. 

 

The first comma separates "at first glance" as extra information.  The 2nd and 3rd commas set apart the middle portion as extra, and the leftover parts make a complete sentence. 

 

 

3)  Incorrect

 

Correct: The fisherman carrying their catch walked into the Seattle fish market, a place famous for how the vendors throw fish to entertain customers.

 

The second commas is not necessary, as everything after the first comma needs to be set apart as extra.  

 

 

 

Commas and Names

On the ACT, you will have to deal with whether names should or should not have commas.  To learn this, take a look at the two correctly punctuated sentences below:  

 

My friend Bella is going to Europe this summer. 

 

                My best friend, Andrew, is a certified scuba diver.                    

Andrew...we don't need your name.

 

 

Why did Bella get no commas and Andrew get commas?

 

 

In the first sentence, Bella is necessary because "my friend" is not specific enough to talk about just one person.  In the second sentence, the introductory portion "my best friend" is specific enough to talk about just one person, so "Andrew" is extra.  

 

 

The trick is to take out the name and ask yourself, is this specific enough to talk about only 1 person.  If it is specific enough, add commas.  If it is not specific enough, no commas are necessary.  

 

Check out this example to help make it even more clear.  

 

 

US astronaut Neil Armstrong came into my restaurant yesterday for lunch.  

 

First man on the moon, Neil Armstrong, came into my restaurant yesterday for lunch. 

 

 

US Astronaut is not specific enough.   Since there are a bunch of US astronauts, we need the name.  "First man on the moon" is specific enough to talk about just one person, so now the name gets commas.

 

 

ACT Test TIP - On the ACT, names almost always appear with NO COMMAS (like the friend example above).  If you are unsure, always pick the name with no commas.    

  

 

 

Practice:  Determine if the names in the following sentences need commas or now.  

 

1)  Russian physicist Sven Popov and Romanian astronomer Miles Guntberg are collaborating on a major research project.  

 

2)  Former Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter is famous for dating many A-list celebrities.

 

3)  I called my youngest sister Ann to ask her for a favor.  

 

 

Scroll down for the answers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Answers:

 

1) No commas for either name

 

2) No commas

 

3) Commas

 

 

 

Adjective Lists With Commas vs. Adjective Lists Without Commas

 

On some more difficult ACT questions, you will need to know when to use a comma in a list of adjectives and when a comma is unnecessary.  To learn more, look at the two correctly punctuated examples below:  

 

The wet, tired dog was too exhausted to play fetch anymore.  

 

My mother has lots of bright floral furniture in her house.  

 

 

"Switching Rule" - To determine if you need a comma or not, switch the adjectives.  If you can switch the adjectives without changing the meaning, the comma is necessary.  If switching the adjectives changes the meaning, then no commas is necessary.

 

 My mother really loves bright floral furniture...

 

 

To use this trick, let's switch the adjectives from the sentences above:  

 

The tired, wet dog was too exhausted to play fetch anymore.  

 

My mother has lots of floral bright furniture in her house.   

 

 

The first sentence still works...a "tired, wet dog" and a "wet, tired dog" both have the same meaning, so the comma here works.  In the second sentence, the "floral bright furniture" does not make sense, so we cannot put a comma here.  

 

 

 

Practice:  Add commas if necessary in the sentences below.   

 

1) Scientists are trying to determine which animal the newly discovered fossilized bones are from.

 

2) The big black bull is prized for his huge two-foot-long horns.  

 

3) The blue ten-foot-wide hot air balloon flew right over my house.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Answers:  

 

1) No commas.  

 

 

2) The big, black bull is prized for his huge two-foot-long horns.

 

 

3) No commas  (you cannot switch any of the words around describing the balloon, so it must run straight through with no commas).  

 

Colons

 

Colons are one of the trickiest types of punctuation on the test.  Colons can be used to introduce a list of multiple items or a list of one item or a single example.  Additionally, colons can also connect two independent sentence (more on that in a minute).

 

 Colons are more than just the eyes in emojis.

 

 

1) Colons and Lists

 

There are two rules to remember for colons and lists:

 

1) The part of the sentence before the colon must be able to stand on its own as a sentence.

 

      2) The part of the sentence after the colon must just be the list and then a period.  

   

 

 

It is important to remember that the colons can be used for a list of just 1 item!

 

 

Let's see how this works correctly and incorrectly with the examples below. 

 

Incorrect:  I went to the grocery store to get some ingredients for dinner, chicken broccoli, and potatoes.

 

Correct:  I went to the grocery store to get some ingredients for dinner: chicken, broccoli, and potatoes.  

 

 

 

Incorrect:  After leaving work, I got home and found something unexpected on my front porch, a bicycle with no handles or petals.  

 

Correct:  After leaving work, I got home and found something unexpected on my front porch: a bicycle with no handles or petals.

 

 

 

For both of those examples, commas did not work...so when do commas work with a list?  Commas can be used to introduce a list along with words like "such as" or "including" 

 

 

Correct:  I went to the grocery store to get some ingredients for dinner, including chicken, broccoli, and potatoes.  

 

 

 

 

2) Colons and Sentences

 

On the most difficult colon questions, colons are used to separate two independent sentences.  This is allowed if the second sentence is an example, definition, or clarification of the first sentence.  Take a look at the two examples below to see how it works.

 

 

My father gave me one rule to live by: honest is always the best policy.

 

The library is very quiet tonight: I will get a lot of work done.  

 

 

In the first example, the second sentence is an example of the father's rule to live by.  In the second example, the second sentence is a clarification of what the writer meant in the first sentence.  

 

 

 ACT Test TIP - A semicolon or period would also work to separate two independent sentences.  On the ACT, you will never be given both a colon and a semicolon or period as two answer choices if the colon is between independent sentences.

 

 

 

Practice:  Determine if the sentences below need a comma, semicolon, or colon.  

 

1)  Honda's new fuel compact cars are known for being fuel efficient ( , / ; / : ) each one gets more than 30 miles per gallon.

 

2)  The directions were clear ( , / ; / : ) place cookie dough on the tray, place in oven, and bake for 15 minutes.  

 

3) In order to determine how old the artifacts were ( , / ; / : ) the scientists turned to the most reliable dating method ( , / ; / : ) carbon dating ( , / ; / : ) which uses the properties of radiocarbon to determine the exact age of an artifact containing organic material.  

 

4) The harmonica is an easy instrument to play ( , / ; / ; ) but it is very hard to masters ( , / ; / : ) only true experts know how to hit all of the notes on a harmonica.  

 

 

Scroll down for answer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Answers:            

 

1) Semicolon or colon 

 

2) Colon

 

3) Comma, colon, comma

 

4) Comma, semicolon or colon

 

Dashes

 

On the ACT, dashes can function as commas, parentheses, or colons.  Most commonly, dashes will act like unnecessary information commas and separate information that can be removed from the sentence.   

 

 

Dashes as commas or parentheses:

 

Residents of Washington D.C. - the capital of the United States - are still fighting to get equal representation in Congress.  

 

Even the simplest tasks - getting dressed, driving my car, and walking to class - were extremely difficult after I broke my leg.

 

 

For both of these example, the dashes set apart unnecessary information that we can remove from the sentence.  Here, the dashes function just like commas or parentheses.  

 

 Be careful to use dashes correctly on the ACT.

 

 

It is important to remember that you cannot mix punctuation with dashes.  To set apart extra information in the middle of a sentence, it must be 2 dashes, 2 commas, or 2 parentheses...you cannot mix them together! 

 

 Incorrect:   Fish tacos, a dish famous in San Diego - are my favorite meal.  

 

 Correct:   Fish tacos - a dish famous in San Diego - are my favorite meal.  

 

 Correct:   Fish tacos, a dish famous in San Diego, are my favorite meal.  

 

 Correct:   Fish tacos (a dish famous in San Diego) are my favorite meal.

 

 

 

Dashes as colons: 

 

Dashes can also act as colons and follows the same rules for lists and examples that colons do (see colon rules above).  These will be some of the more difficult grammar problems on the ACT, so make sure you remember this lesser-known rule about dashes.

 

You will need to following ingredients - milk, flour, butter, and eggs.

 

I could not wait to get my order - mozzarella sticks with marinara dipping sauce.      

 

Each picture is accompanied by a short excerpt - a few sentences written by the artist that describe the inspiration behind the piece.  

 

 

 

Practice:  

 

 

Scroll down for answers and explanations. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Answers:

 

1) C      

 

The dashes in C properly separate the unnecessary information "his toy cars...Legos" as extra.  We can remove it from the sentence, and we are left with a full sentence.  A is incorrect because it mixes punctuation (opens with a comma and closes with a dash).  B is wrong because it is missing the second dash.  D is incorrect because the part after the colon is not just a list and the part before is not a complete sentence.  

 

 

2)  D

 

The dash acts as a colon here and introduces the list.  A and C are incorrect because you cannot use words like "including" or "such as" with a colon.  B is incorrect because it is missing the comma before the word "including."     

 

 

Who vs. Whom

 

On the ACT, you are almost guaranteed to see a "who vs. whom" question.  You just need to know that "who" is the subject of the sentence while "whom" is the object of the sentence.  

 

Plug-In Trick - If you can plug "he" or "they" into the sentence, then it must be "who."  If you can plug "him" or "them" into the sentence, then it must be "whom."  

 

 Use the plug in trick to make who vs. whom easy!

 

 

Let's see how the trick works with the two sentence below: 

 

(Who/whom) stole the apple from the teacher's desk?

 

He stole the apple from the teacher's desk.      (It works, so it must be who)

 

 

 

 

(Who/whom) do you want to win the grand prize? 

 

He do you want to win the grand prize.      (Nope...that's no good!)

 

Do you want him to win the grand prize?    (That works, so it must be whom)

 

 

 

On most of the who vs. whom questions on the ACT, you will need to deal with who/whom in phrases.  Using the same he/they and him/them trick still works, but you must make sure to only look at the phrase on its own.  

 

 

The child (who/whom) I invited to the party was very noisy.  

 

The child [ (who/whom) I invited to the party ] was very noisy.   (Just look at the phrase)

 

 

Since you can say "I invited him to the party," it must be whom.                          

 

 

 

The child (who/whom) was running down the street was very noisy.  

 

The child [ (who/whom) was running down the street ] was very noisy.    (Look at the phrase)

 

Since you can say "he was running down the street," it must be who.  

 

    

 

 

Practice:  

 

1)  I ran into my childhood best friend yesterday, (who/whom) I had not seen in years.

 

2)  I could not believe how much the florists (who/whom) opened up a shop down the street charge for their roses. 

 

3)  (Who/whom) do you think will win the race?

 

 

Scroll down for the answers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Answers: 

 

1)  Whom   (I had not seen him in years)

 

2)  Who       (They opened up a shop down the street)

 

3)  Whom    (Do you think that he will win the race?)

 

Misplaced Modifiers

 

A misplaced modifier is a word or phrase that is improperly separated from the word that it modifies.  These are hard to spot because you will know the sentence is supposed to be saying, but if you know how to spot them the answers are easy to find.  

 

Incorrect:  Not popular since the 1980s, the documentary about mullets explored the origins of the wildly popular hairstyle.  

 

 

To solve this, ask yourself who or what the modifier "not popular since the 1980s" is referring to.  In this sentence, it is mullets not the documentary.  For this to be correct, the modifier must be right next door to who or what it is modifying.  As it is currently written, it sound like the documentary has not been popular since the 1980s, which is not what the writer meant.   

 

 

Here are two ways to correct the sentence above:  

 

Correct:  Not popular since the 1980s, mullets were the topic of a recently released documentary.  

 

Correct:  Since mullets have not been popular since the 1980s, the documentary was only popular among older viewers.  

 

 

The first sentence fixes the problem by placing mullets right next to the modifier.  The second sentence fixes the problem by adding a subject (mullets) to the modifier so there is not longer confusion about what was not popular since the 1980s.  

 

 Misplaced modifiers can really change the meaning of a sentence!

 

 

Next-Door Neighbor Rule - For a modifier to be properly placed, it must be next-door neighbors with who or what it is describing.  

 

Test Tip - Once you spot it is a modifier question, just focus on finding the modifier and answering the question "who or what is this describing?"  Then, make sure to fix the sentence in one of the two ways outlined above.    

 

 

 Practice:

 

 

Scroll down for answers and explanations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Answers: 

 

1) C

 

In C, the modifier "which jiggled wildly" is correctly placed right next-door to what it is describing (Eric's foot).  This is the only answer that properly puts the modifier next to Eric's foot.   

 

 

2)  B

 

The modifier here is "oozing slowly across the group," so you just need to ask yourself what that is referring to.  In A and C, it sounds like Claire is oozing slowly across the group, so those are incorrect.  We know that Claire's smoothie is oozing across the ground, so only B and D are still options.  D is incorrect because it is a sentence fragment.  B properly works as a sentence and fixes our misplaced modifier.  

 

  Strategies and Test-Taking Tips to Maximize Your Score

 

First, a word on time management:

 

The ACT English Test should be the easiest section to finish within the time limits, but it is still important to know what pace you should be on to complete it.  On the English Test, you will work through 5 passages with 15 questions each.  That means that you will have 9 minutes per passage.  

 

If you hit any question that stumps you, do no get stuck on it for too long...bubble in your best guess, mark the question, and move on.  If you have time at the end, you can come back to any questions you marked.

 

 

 

 

 

The 3 Major Types of Questions on the English Test    

 

On the English Test, there are three major types of questions.  I will tell you how to spot the 3 different types of questions and how to approach each type.  

 

 

1) Grammar Questions 

 

These questions will test your sentence structure, punctuation, and grammar skills.  There will be no actual question.  Instead, you will just need to select which answer is correct.

 

 

Here's how they will appear on the ACT:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notice how these questions all deal with punctuation, sentence structure, verbs, or adjectives/adverbs.  

 

 

How to Approach - Read the ENTIRE SENTENCE.  You do not need to read the sentences before or after.      

 

 

 

2) Style Questions

 

Style questions will ask you to revise and improve sentences in a variety of ways.  These questions test you on word choice, transitions, wordiness, and redundancy.  Just like grammar questions, there will be no actual question.  However, these questions are not testing you on grammar, so all of the answer choices will be grammatically correct.  

 

 

Here's how they will appear on the ACT:   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notice how these questions are not asking you about anything related to grammar.  

 

 

How to Approach - Read the entire sentence AND the entire sentence before.  For most style questions, you will need the context from earlier in the paragraph to find the correct answer.

 

 

3) Paragraph Modification Questions

 

 

Paragraph modification questions are the questions on the ACT English Test that actually ask you a questions.  These questions test your ability to read the passage and answer questions based on context.  Common types of questions include revising sentences, adding or deleting information, placing sentences correctly, and answering questions about the entire passage.

 

 

Here's how they will appear on the ACT:

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Approach - At minimum, read the entire sentence, the sentence before, and the sentence after.  If you need to read more, do it!  These questions will take more time but are generally less difficult as long as you take the time to read for context.  

 

 

Strategies For Each Type of Questions

 

 Know your strategy to get a perfect 36 on the English Test.

 

 

Grammar Questions

 

1) Read the Entire Sentence

 

It is very easy to just focus in on only the small underlined portion of the sentence and pick the wrong answer that looks or sounds good.  You MUST read the entire sentence to make sure that you select the best answer.

 

 

2)  Pay Attention to the Punctuation

 

Commas, semicolons, colons, and dashes both within the underlined portion and in the rest of the sentence provide great clues as to which answer will be correct.

 

 

3)  Look for Correct and Incorrect Answers 

 

Rely on the grammar rules that you have learned to both spot incorrect answers and identify correct ones.  If you know an answer is wrong, cross it off!  Remember, what "sounds" right is not always right...that's why you learned the rules.  

 

 

 

Style Questions

 

1) Shorter is Better

 

Many style questions will test your ability to spot unnecessary, irrelevant, or redundant information.  If you are between two choices, always pick the shorter one.  Concise is good.  Wordy is bad. 

 

 

2) Read the Sentence AND the One Before 

 

Style questions can also ask you to pick the correct transition and spot repetition.  The only way to know which answer is correct is to read the previous sentence as well.

 

 

3) Trust Your Gut

 

Hmm...should the word be "swam" or "swum"?  At times, you will be tested on word choice and irregular verbs.  Do not spend too much time on thinking about these...just go with what sounds best to you and move on.  

 

 

  

Paragraph Modification Questions

 

1) Read Before AND After

 

The context is extremely important for these questions.  To find the right answer, you must read the sentence itself as well as the sentence before and after.  You may even need to read further back or forward on certain questions, so read as much as necessary to find the answer.  

 

 

2) Keep It Simple

 

For the "Which choice" or "Given all the following statements are true" questions, read the questions and just give the ACT what it is asking for.  It's not about grammar or flow here; just answer the question being asked.  For example, if the questions asks, "Which choice highlights the sudden anger in the author's tone," just pick the answer choice that sounds angry.   

 

Study hard and go get a great score on the ACT English Test!

 

 

 

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