How to Study for the ACT® English
Tips, Study Plan, & Resources

Starting the journey to master the ACT® English section means diving deep into grammar, usage, and rhetorical skills. This guide will serve as a valuable resource, providing study strategies, detailed plans, and helpful ACT English tips tailored to conquer the intricacies of this section of the ACT. With UWorld's expertly crafted resources at your disposal, you'll delve into the nuances of how to study for ACT English language conventions and the art of effective writing. Our guide not only provides a roadmap for success but also offers practice materials designed to develop your understanding and boost your confidence. You'll be well-prepared to achieve top scores on the ACT English section.

ACT English Test Overview

Format of the ACT English Skills Tested on the ACT English
  • Consists of 75 multiple-choice questions.
  • Allotted time is 45 minutes.
  • Scores range from 1 to 36.
  • Structured around five passages, each followed by 15 questions.
  • Emphasizes grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure (Usage/Mechanics).
  • Evaluates rhetorical skills, including strategy, organization, and style.
  • Requires understanding and application of standard written English rules.
  • Tests ability to revise and edit text for clarity, coherence, and correctness.
  • Covers a variety of topics and genres, aiming to assess readiness for entry-level college composition courses.

The ACT English section consists of 75 multiple-choice questions. These questions are based on five different passages, each designed to test your understanding of grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and rhetorical skills. You'll have 45 minutes to complete this challenge, which not only assesses your knowledge of English rules but also your ability to improve clarity and coherence in writing. The topics covered in this section are diverse, spanning different genres. If you're interested in delving deeper into the intricacies of the ACT English test and learning strategic tips, we encourage you to take a look at our comprehensive guide about the ACT English Test. It's packed with valuable insights and advice for aspiring scholars.

How to Prepare for the ACT English Section

Getting ready for the ACT English section involves using a variety of methods. You should concentrate on improving your grasp of grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure while also enhancing your ability to persuade effectively. To do well in this part, you must be able to spot and fix grammar mistakes, grasp subtleties in language use, and enhance how clear and impactful your writing is. By organizing your study around these aspects, you'll be fully prepared, giving you the confidence and abilities needed to do your best on the test.

How to approach the passages on the ACT English test

To become a pro at the ACT English section, start with a smart approach to the passages. Treat each passage as a chance to showcase your grasp of English conventions and your talent for making text flow better. Your goal should be to understand the main ideas, figure out the structure and purpose of each passage, and quickly spot errors and ways to make it even better. If you want more detailed strategies for tackling these passages, check out our guide on how to approach the ACT English questions. It's packed with helpful ACT English tips to boost your test-taking skills.

Tips to get a 36 on ACT English

Aiming for a perfect 36 on the ACT English section? Here are some targeted strategies to help you achieve that top score:

  • Grasp Core Grammar and Usage Rules:

    Solidify your understanding of grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure. Knowing these rules inside and out is key to quickly identifying and correcting errors.

  • Hone Your Rhetorical Skills:

    Become adept at analyzing passages for style, tone, and purpose. Practice enhancing clarity and effectiveness in writing by making strategic choices in phrasing and organization.

  • Practice Precision and Efficiency:

    Work on answering questions accurately and swiftly. Familiarize yourself with the types of questions asked and develop strategies for tackling each efficiently.

  • Analyze and Reflect on Practice Questions:

    Review your practice test answers, especially any mistakes, to understand your errors and prevent them in future attempts.

  • Regular, Timed Practice Tests:

    Simulate test conditions with full-length, timed practice tests. This helps build familiarity with the test's format and improves your timing and stamina.

For an in-depth guide on how to study for ACT English and secure that perfect score, check out our blog post on how to get 36 on ACT English. This resource is packed with additional ACT English tips and strategies to elevate your preparation and performance.

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How long should you study for the ACT English section?

When considering how to study for ACT English, figuring out how long you should study partially depends on your base level of knowledge and what you want to achieve. A good plan would be to invest 3 to 6 months to really get a grip on all areas of the test, like grammar rules, rhetorical strategies, and practice tests. This schedule lets you progress steadily and truly understand the ideas. When you tackle an ACT English passage, try to use around 9 minutes. This speed helps you have sufficient time to read, understand, and answer all 15 questions per passage well, finding a good mix between being quick and getting it right.

How do you study on your own for ACT English?

Studying on your own for ACT English allows you to tailor your ACT English preparation to your specific needs and learning pace. The key to success is a structured study plan that emphasizes consistent practice, understanding of grammar rules, and the development of rhetorical skills. Utilizing resources like UWorld's comprehensive question banks, which offer detailed explanations and real-test-like practice, can significantly enhance your learning process.

ACT English Study Plan

6 Months 3 Months 1 Month
  • Start with understanding the basics of grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure, gradually moving towards complex rhetorical strategies.
  • Engage in a weekly targeted practice session focusing on different aspects of ACT English, such as improving paragraph coherence or varying sentence structure.
  • Take full-length practice tests monthly to assess progress and identify areas needing further review or practice.
  • Intensify focus on areas of weakness identified in initial assessments, using targeted exercises to improve understanding and application of English conventions.
  • Incorporate multiple practice sessions per week with passages similar to those on the ACT English section, analyzing rhetorical skills and editing strategies.
  • Use the final weeks to consolidate your learning through comprehensive review sessions and additional full-length practice exams.
  • Dedicate each week to a thorough review of key concepts: grammar rules one week, punctuation the next, followed by sentence structure, and concluding with rhetorical skills.
  • Engage in daily practice with a mix of questions to refine accuracy and speed, focusing on applying strategies efficiently.
  • In the final days leading up to the test, take a timed practice section to simulate test conditions, focusing on maintaining a steady pace and applying test-taking strategies effectively.

ACT English Test Study Tips

As you gear up for the ACT English section, incorporating a few strategic study tips can significantly improve your ACT English preparation and performance. Here's how:

  • Be Aware of the Writing Style Used in Each Passage:

    Each passage on the ACT English test is crafted with a specific style and purpose. Paying attention to this can help you better understand the context, making it easier to identify errors and make corrections that align with the passage's tone and intent.

  • Examine the Underlined Portions of the Passage:

    These underlined sections are your clues to potential errors. Approach each with a critical eye, assessing grammar, usage, and mechanics, as well as the effectiveness and clarity of the writing. Understanding why something is underlined will guide you to the correct answer.

  • Note the Questions with No Underlined Portions: 

    Some questions will ask you to evaluate aspects of the passage as a whole, such as its structure, purpose, or style. For these, having a good grasp of the passage's overall flow and main ideas is crucial.

  • Reread the Sentence Inserting the Answer You Selected: 

    After choosing an answer, put it back into the passage to ensure it fits seamlessly. This practice can help you catch mistakes and confirm that your selected answer improves the passage according to the question's requirements.

By weaving these tips into your study habits, you'll develop a deeper understanding of the ACT English section's demands, enabling you to approach the test with confidence and precision.

What are the most common mistakes you need to avoid on ACT English?

Navigating the ACT English section with skill and precision means being mindful of the pitfalls that can trip up even the most prepared test-takers. Here are some common mistakes you should steer clear of:

  • Overlooking the Context of Underlined Sections:

    It's easy to fixate on the underlined portion without considering its context within the sentence or passage. Always ensure your corrections align with the overall message and style.

  • Misunderstanding the Rules of Standard English Conventions: 

    A solid grasp of grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure is crucial. Familiarize yourself thoroughly with these concepts to avoid basic errors that can lower your score.

  • Rushing Through Passages and Questions: 

    Speed is important, but not at the expense of accuracy. Take the time to fully understand each question and passage to avoid careless mistakes that could have been easily avoided.

For a comprehensive breakdown of these and other pitfalls, alongside strategies for sidestepping them, don't miss our in-depth exploration in “How to Avoid Common Mistakes on ACT English”. This guide is packed with actionable advice to help refine your approach and elevate your score.

ACT English Test Review/Study Materials 

Kicking off your ACT English prep with the free resources from the official ACT site and Khan Academy is a smart move. They give you a good grip on the basics and offer lots of practice questions that match what you'll see on the test. Once you’ve got the hang of those, it’s time to level up with UWorld's question bank and practice tests. If you're aiming for a top score, UWorld is a game-changer. UWorld covers everything from grammar and punctuation to sentence structure and rhetorical skills. Plus, the questions are detailed, which makes tricky concepts easier to understand. The UWorld ACT English practice tests are just like the real exam, so you'll be familiar with the format and question style. This kind of preparation is great for boosting confidence and improving your language skills, which is important if you want to score well. Regularly using these resources will make you a pro at test-taking and deepen your understanding of English. To get your hands on these amazing study materials, just head over to UWorld's dedicated ACT English practice section.

Key Takeaways

Embarking on the journey of ACT English requires a nuanced understanding of language, a strategic mindset, and the right resources for practice. Mastering this section goes beyond simply memorizing rules; it involves thoughtfully applying them in various contexts, analyzing rhetorical elements, and improving your editing skills. UWorld is a vital support in this endeavor, providing a comprehensive question bank and practice tests that mirror the demands of the exam. These resources not only help you become familiar with the test format, but also enhance your command of English, boosting both confidence and competence. Embrace these strategies, steer clear of common pitfalls, and make the most of UWorld's expertise to navigate your path to success in ACT English.

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  1. ACT, Inc. (n.d.). ACT English Test Tips. Retrieved February 16, 2024, from
  2. ACT, Inc. (n.d.). English Practice Test Questions. Retrieved February 16, 2024, from
  3. UWorld. (n.d.). ACT English Test. Retrieved February 16, 2024, from

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