Here we will discuss ACT English tips and strategies that will help you maximize your score and performance on the ACT English test. Remember, because the ACT is a timed test, strategy is just as important as your knowledge of the content!
ACT English tips and strategies

It is possible to increase your ACT score by several points simply by taking the ACT in a different way.

General ACT English Tips

Here are three ACT English tips and tricks that will help you on the ACT English test:

  1. Skip to the underlined parts and read the surrounding context if the question requires you to. The underlined parts will give you enough information about the passage to answer the “big picture” questions, and if they do not, simply find the information you need. You do not want to read the passage and then have to re-read it to answer the “big picture” questions.
  2. The ACT loves to test wordiness. The shorter answers are correct more often than not. Although the shortest answer is not necessarily the correct answer, when in doubt, pick the shortest answer.
  3. Generally speaking, what “sounds right” is the correct answer. However, be careful, because there are certain grammar rules that may not “sound right” (for example, certain subject-verb agreement questions, certain pronoun questions, and certain modifier questions). Be sure to know what tricky grammar rules to watch out for.

ACT English Tips – Timing for the ACT English Test

The ACT English test is 45 minutes long, and there are five passages, so you should spend no more than 9 minutes on each passage. In fact, it is preferable that you spend less than 9 minutes for each passage, so that you have time at the end to check over questions you were unsure about.

You should spend no more than about 36 seconds per question, but again, it is preferable that you spend less time than this for each question.

The ACT English test is the least rushed out of all the ACT test sections. You should have plenty of time for this test, so do not rush through it. Make sure you do not make silly mistakes.

ACT English Tips – In what order should I do the questions?

Because you have plenty of time to do the ACT English test, and because none of the questions should take a long time to do, you should answer every question in order your first time through the test.

ACT English Tips – Skipping/Marking Questions

Skipping Questions

Again, do not skip any questions your first time through the ACT English test.

Marking Questions

While you should not skip any questions, you should mark down the numbers of questions you are unsure about. Write these numbers on the first page of the English test. Come back and check over these questions after you reach the end of the test.

ACT English Tips – Bubbling

Bubble after each of the passages (15 questions at a time). This will allow you to maintain focus during each passage and not disrupt your flow. This will also help you avoid bubbling mistakes.

When you hear the five minute warning, begin bubbling questions one at a time to make sure you are able to bubble every question.

ACT English Tips – Foundations to Work on before Taking the ACT English Test: Reading and Grammar Rules


ACT English tips and strategies
The more you read, the more naturally you will recognize grammar errors and effective writing. Therefore, make it your goal to read as much as possible on a regular basis, especially non-fiction, which you can be sure uses proper English grammar. Reading ability and comprehension is a foundational skill for the entire ACT, and this is very true for the ACT English test.

Grammar Rules

Because the ACT tests specific grammar rules, it is important to learn and become familiar with the grammar rules that will show up on the ACT English test. These grammar rules usually show up in similar ways year after year, so learn the kinds of questions that the ACT likes to ask.

A list of the grammar rules that will show up on the ACT can be found at the ACT English Test: Format and Content Overview page.