When coaches have a big game against a serious competitor, they formulate a strategy to win using a game plan. From breaking down positions, drawing up plays, effectively managing their time, and multiple walkthroughs with their teams, they give themselves the best chance to win by coming to gameday prepared. When it comes to performing well on the ACT English section, you can set yourself up for success with a similar game plan.
Time Management: There are 75 questions and only 45 minutes in which to complete them, leaving you with 36 seconds to answer each one. With so little time to read the passages and complete the section, you don’t have time to second-guess or check your answers. If you take several practice exams, you’ll not only get a good sense of the section, you’ll be able to pace yourself to develop the necessary time management skills to complete the section in the allotted time.
Focus: Studying grammar rules is one of the most effective things you can do to improve your score and ensure you complete the section on time. Take a diagnostic test to identify your weak areas, then start your prep by studying those grammar rules with which you’re least familiar. With several hours of committed practice, you’ll see tremendous progress.
Master the Fundamentals: You’ll be tested on your knowledge of writing conventions like grammar and punctuation; whether a sentence needs apostrophes, commas, colons, semicolons, dashes, periods, or questions marks; the correct use of various parts of speech like conjunctions, nouns, prepositions, pronouns, and verbs; and subject/verb agreement, modifiers, parallel structure, and frequently confused words like “affect” and “effect.”
Word Choice: You’ll be asked about the meaning of vocabulary words as well as to choose phrases that are concise and precise. The most effective way to prepare is to do practice questions that help you recognize words and phrases with the appropriate style and tone to fit with the rest of the passage.
Production: The ACT English section contains questions about the production of writing, in which you’ll be asked for appropriate introductions, conclusions, and transitions. Sometimes you’ll have to determine the most logical order for sentences or paragraphs. You’ll also be asked to select words, phrases, and sentences that are relevant to and supportive of the purpose of the passage. You will also likely be asked to revise a passage of text to improve its clarity, connection, emphasis, and specificity.
Preparing for the ACT English section can be a daunting task, especially if you aren’t familiar with some of the above terms or it’s been a while since you’ve studied or practiced grammar rules. Cracking open old English textbooks might help you prepare for the ACT, but it’s definitely not the most efficient way to know what to expect on test day. The most effective thing you can do to prepare is to complete practice questions and exams modeled after the ACT. Just make sure that there is an explanation for each answer so that you understand the fundamentals behind each question; otherwise, just knowing whether you get a question right or wrong does not benefit you if you don’t understand why. By reviewing the rules and learning how to apply them, you can master the ACT English section content and achieve your max score on this section.