By Hannah Blaser
Over the next few months, we will be diving into specific sections of the ACT through our Test Prep 101 series. This series of blogs is designed to give students insight into the sections of the test. Test Prep 101 will offer suggestions on things to study, test-taking strategies specific to each section, and tips on how to stay focused, energized, and on-task.
The ACT is a long, and at times, tricky standardized test. Students going into the test with knowledge of what will be tested and how it will be tested are much more prepared to tackle the ACT.
What does the ACT English section look like?
The ACT English section is the first section of the ACT test students will have to get through. This section consists off 75 questions. These questions are divided into five passages with 15 questions in each passage. Students have 45 minutes to complete this section of the test.
Tips for the ACT English section:
1. Know your grammar rules
It might seem daunting, but knowing the difference between a semicolon and a comma, for example, is crucial for tackling the ACT English section. Students should set aside time to review grammar rules until they feel comfortable working with them. It’s not enough to simply know the rules, it’s also important to be able to see the rules in action. The ACT isn’t a vocabulary test where rules get matched with definitions. The way grammar rules are tested is much more subtle than that. A student who feels certain of their ability to identify and use grammar rules is well on their way to an improved English score.
2. Read past the underlined portion
Reading past the underlined portion and to the end of the sentence will help students understand the full meaning of the sentence and better answer the question. Often, students think once they read the underlined portion they should stop and go directly to the answer choices. This can lead to confusion, because the full sentence is usually needed for context and additional clues.
3. Go for clear and concise answer choices
Just because an answer is long and uses big words doesn’t mean it’s the correct answer. In fact, those answers are rarely correct. The ACT is often testing students on their knowledge of clear and concise writing. If information is repetitive, unnecessary, or doesn’t contribute to the passage as a whole, it’s probably best to leave it out.
4. Take the questions one piece at a time
Sometimes questions will have multiple parts for students to decipher. When this happens, students should focus on one piece of the question at a time. Usually, solving the first error will help students eliminate two answer choices. When they turn their attention to the second error, process of elimination can help them decide between the two remaining answer choices.
5. Cross off wrong answers
This applies to all sections of the ACT: if you know an answer is wrong, cross it off. Eliminating wrong answers will help students narrow down potential right answers. Picking between two answer choices is a lot less intimidating than choosing between four.
These five tips can help students tackle that tricky English section. The ACT might seem hard, but it can be a lot more manageable with some practice, repetition, and a solid strategy.