ACT English Tips

Learn the best ACT English tips to increase your ACT score!

Analyzing Your ACT English Practice Test

So You’ve Taken an ACT English Practice Test. What Now?

Now that you’ve taken an ACT English practice test, it’s time to find out how you did and to analyze it to see what you can do to improve your score. The English test stays pretty much the same over the 75 questions, so we’re not going to do anything too fancy here.

Analyzing Your ACT English Practice Test, Step #1: Figure Out Your English Test Raw Score

The first thing you need to do is figure out your English test raw score. This is the number you got correct out of 75. For example, if you missed 11 questions, your raw score would be 75 – 11, or 64.

Analyzing Your ACT English Practice Test, Step #2: Convert Your Raw Score to a Scale Score

Second, convert your raw score to a scale score using the chart in whatever practice test book you are using. The chart should look like this (yours will probably look slightly different, but they’re both the same concept). Using our example, if your raw score is a 64, your scale score would be a 28. This is the score for the English test that you would have gotten on the ACT.

ACT score chart raw score scale score

Analyzing Your ACT English Practice Test, Step #3: Determine Your Potential Score

Now, let’s do a little more to analyze how you did. Third, check over the questions you got wrong, and count up how many of them were because of a careless or silly mistake and you actually should have gotten right. Add these questions to your original raw score, and convert this new raw score into a new scale score. This is your potential score, or the score you could have gotten if you hadn’t made any careless or silly mistakes. Next time you take a practice test, or the actual ACT, focus on not making these same careless mistakes.

Analyzing Your ACT English Practice Test, Step #4: Determine Areas to Work on

Finally, make a list of the questions you got wrong because you simply had trouble with them. Figure out what concepts these questions covered, and study them to make sure you know them for when you take the actual ACT. If you need to, watch our ACT English Content videos again to review these concepts.

Next Step: Continue Taking ACT English Practice Tests

Now that you know how to analyze the ACT English practice tests that you take, your task now is to simply continue taking English practice tests and keep working to fix the problems that you discover from each test. The more practice tests you take and analyze, the better you will do on the ACT.

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By |January 6th, 2014|ACT English Tips|0 Comments

ACT English Tips: Prep Strategies for the English Test

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.

By |December 14th, 2013|ACT English Tips|0 Comments

ACT English Test: Format and Content Overview

ACT English

Introduction to the ACT English Test

The ACT English test is the first section of the ACT. It is the longest in terms of questions out of the four tests, so it is important to come prepared, so that fatigue does not hurt your performance.

Although the ACT English test is the “easiest” of the four ACT tests and the least rushed, it is graded the most strictly, so make sure you do not make careless mistakes.

The ACT English Test Format: Structure and Timing

Below is a chart that provides an overview of the English test format, including how long the English test is, how many questions are on it, how it is organized, and how long you have for each question:

Overview of the English test format

Total Time Number of Questions Organization Time per Question
45 minutes 75 questions 5 passages –
All similar in difficulty and content
9 minutes per passage
36 seconds per question

Most students finish the ACT English test early. Although this can be helpful mentally to prepare for the ACT Math test, make sure you do not rush through the test, and make sure you spend time checking over questions you were unsure about.

Because the ACT English test is the “easiest” out of all four tests, it is graded the most strictly. Therefore, it is important to get every possible point correct on this test. It is worth the time and effort to take your time and make sure your answers are correct.

The ACT English Test Content: English Concepts Tested

The ACT English test covers a breadth of grammar and writing concepts. Although many times what “sounds right” is the correct answer, there are certain grammar rules that do not “sound right” that you need to know. Below is a chart that provides a list of all the concepts that might be covered by the English test. Make sure you study and know them for when you take the ACT test.

The Specific Content of the ACT English Test

Usage and Mechanics

Usage and Mechanics refers to specific grammar rules that will show up on the ACT English test. While many of these grammar rules might appear to simply “sound right,” it is important to be able to recognize tricky rules that might not actually “sound right.” Be especially careful with subject-verb agreement, pronouns, and modifiers.

Punctuation (13% – about 10 questions) Grammar and Usage (16% – about 12 questions) Sentence Structure (24% – about 18 questions)
Internal and end-of-sentence
punctuation: commas, semicolons, colons, dashes, apostrophes, etc.
  • Subject-Verb agreement
  • Pronoun-Antecedent agreement
  • Correct use of modifiers
  • Forming verbs
  • Correct pronoun case
  • Forming comparative and superlative adjectives and adverbs
  • Idiomatic usage
  • Relationships between and among clauses
  • Placement of modifiers
  • Shifts in construction

  • Rhetorical Skills

    Rhetorical Skills refers to effective writing. On the ACT English test, you will need to be able to choose the best way of communicating a particular idea. The ACT loves to test topics such as wordiness, logical transitions, and the effect of changing a part of a passage.

    Strategy (16% – about 12 questions) Organization (15% – about 11 questions) Style (16% – about 12 questions)
  • Organizing ideas
  • Choosing effective opening, transitional, and closing sentences
  • Choosing expressions appropriate to an essay’s audience and purpose
  • Judging the effectiveness of adding, revising, or deleting supporting material
  • Judging the relevance of statements in context
  • Selecting precise and appropriate words and images
  • Maintain the level of style and tone in an essay
  • Manage sentence elements for rhetorical effectiveness
  • Avoid ambiguous pronoun references
  • Avoid wordiness and redundancy
  • To learn or review a variety of grammar rules for the ACT English test, visit Knowing these rules will definitely help you for the ACT.

    Next Step

    The next step to preparing for the ACT English test is to learn the strategies for taking the English test. Learn more about the best ACT English test strategies at the ACT English Tips: Strategies for the ACT English Test page.

    By |November 23rd, 2013|ACT English Tips|0 Comments