Mastering the ACT Step 3: Become a Grammar Nerd


The Format of the English Section

Remember, the English section features 75 questions, is divided into 5 passage, and is 45 minutes long. That seems fast but most of the questions can be answered efficiently. Particularly if you master the grammar rules.

The English section has two types of questions. Grammar questions and content questions. Here are a few basic tips:

  1. Grammar questions

  2. Don’t just read the underlined portion.

  3. Read the whole sentence and look back or down further when necessary.

  4. Delete is right 50% of the time it appears as an option.

  5. No change is a perfectly fine choice. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

  6. Learn the rules on the following pages.

  7. Content questions

  8. They fall into 4 main types

  9. Addition/Deletion questions

  10. If you need it, keep it.

  11. If it is repetitive, awkward, or unnecessary delete it.

  12. Emphasis changes

  13. Do what they tell you to do even if it seems too easy or cheesy. If they want the sentence to be colorful, add a color. If they want it to be more specific, make sure you choose the answer that is most specific.

  14. Sentence or paragraph order

  15. These tend to be the hardest questions for new test takers.

  16. Slow down & look for context clues (dates, times of day, months, transition words)

  17. Questions related to the passage as a whole

  18. Look back at the title. More often than not, it gives away the right answer. If you need to and have time, don’t be afraid to skim back through the essay.

Master the 5 BIG RULES of the English Section

  1. Less is more. Simpler is better. Short (and specific) is sweet.

  2. When in doubt, leave the comma out.

  3. Semicolons are the same as periods.

  4. It’s means it is. Its is possessive. Its’ is a made up word.

  5. If they ask you a question, ignore the grammar rules and focus on the choice that most LITERALLY answers the question.

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