ACT General Tips Don’t Get Bogged Down Skip past hard questions so you can quickly rack up points on easier questions
ACT General Tips Do Questions Triage The first time you look at each question, make a quick decision about how hard and time consuming it looks. Then decide whether to anser it now or skip it and do it later. Comprehensible/Reasonable = DO RIGHT AWAY Tough/Time Consuming = LEAVE FOR LATER Impossible = FUGETABOUTIT
Passage-Based Triage Do each passage as a block Long first pass through questions (triage pass), doing easy ones & guessing impossibles Second pass (clean up pass), doing those you can solve with extra effort **Mark the questions in your test blooklet**
ACT General Tips Rephrase for understanding ACT Questions are rarely presented in the simplest, most helpful way. Your main job for many questions is to figure out what the question means so you can solve it Reword the questions so you can understand them!
ACT General Tips Mark Up Your Test Booklet Circle or Underline the Main Idea Make a Road Map of the Passage Quick notes about each paragraph so you get how it fits together That way, you know WHERE to find what you NEED to find
ACT General Tips Ignore Irrelevant Issues Just because it looks interesting, or just because you’re worried about something, doesn’t make it important: …China was certainly one of the cradles of civilization. It’s obvious that, China has a long history. As is the case with other ancient cultures, the early history of China is lost in mythology… F. NO CHANGE G. It’s obvious that China has a long history. H. Obviously; China has a long history. I. OMIT the underlined portion.
ACT General Tips Check The Text All the information you need is in the test itself Don’t be afraid to refer to it Especially in reading and science, always refer to the place in the passage where the answer can be found Often, the wrong answers will be “misplaced details” – details taken from different parts of the passage. (They don’t answer the question properly, but sound good if you aren’t careful.)
ACT General Tips Answer the RIGHT question ACT test makers TRY to trick you They can throw in a “red herring” answer that is correct for another question
ACT General Tips ALWAYS GUESS on every question you can’t answer. An unanswered question is ALWAYS a WRONG answer Blind Guessing: Impossible questions Considered Guessing: (you will do mostly) – questions you’ve done some work on, but can’t make headway with
ACT General Tips DON’T MISGRID YOUR ANSWERS! Circle your answers in your test booklet, then transfer them in groups of 5 or more or after every 2 pages. Unless you’re close to the end of the time…then grid them one at a time so you don’t get caught without an answer bubbled in At 5 minutes, grid one at a time At 2 minutes, fill in everything that’s blank
ACT General Tips Keep Track of Time! You have about 30 seconds per question on reading-based sections, and about 1 minute per question in Math English and Reading passages should take about 9 minutes each Science passages should take about 5 minutes each
The ACT English Test Stats 45 minutes 75 questions = 36 seconds per question 5 passages +/- 15 questions per passage A score of 20 requires 2/3 correct responses You have to move FAST
Standard Format Almost all questions have a word, phrase, or sentence in the passage underlined with 4 options One option (A) is always “NO CHANGE”
3-Step Method for English 1. Read until you have enough information to identify the issue Think about what issue the question is testing (why are they asking the question?) 2. Eliminate choices that DO NOT address the issue If there’s no error, mark NO CHANGE, then eliminate choices that don’t fix the error 3. Plug in the remaining choices And choose the one that’s most correct, concise, and relevant
Types of Questions 1/3 of the questions test writing economy 1/3 of the questions test logic and sense 1/3 of the questions test hard-and-fast rules of grammar
Economy Questions “Padding” by repeating the same thing over and over Redundancy: Never let the text in a sentence repeat itself Verbosity: Remember that the best way to write something is the shortest way as long as it’s grammatically correct Irrelevance: Omit ideas that are not directly and logically tied in with the purpose of the passage
Economy Questions, cont. Almost 1/3 of the questions (more than 20 questions) test your awareness of redundancy, verbosity, relevance, and similar issues The shortest answer is often correct. When in doubt, take it. Ask yourself: Does the information belong here? Can the passage/sentence work without it?
ACT English Test Tip KNOW THE DIRECTIONS The directions for the English test are always the same. Read them now so you know what they are. Don’t waste time reading the directions if you already understand them before the day of the test. *In the English test, you’ll need all the time you can get!*
Sense Questions Sense questions test meaning errors. Once you get the hang of them, they can be easy to ace. Errors of meaning are often funny once you see them. E.g.: An answer that says, “Abraham Lincoln’s father was a model of hardworking self- sufficiency. He was born in a log cabin he built with his own hands.” Look at the literal meaning of the statement.
Short Answers Sense questions can be more difficult than economy questions, but you will notice that the shortest answer is often the correct one. (Almost half in practice #2)
Grammar Questions Completeness (Q#1) – the requirement that every sentence should consist of an entire thought. What is the sentence saying? Is it independent? Sentence Structure (Q#4) Fragments or Run Ons? REMEMBER: Make sure every sentence contains at least one, but not more than one, complete thought.
Grammar Questions, cont. Modifiers (Q#2) – it must be clear exactly what words or phrases are modifying (referring to) what other words and phrases in the sentence. Modifiers should be as close as possible to the things they modify. Idiom (Q#3) – language particular to a group/ native speakers learn this naturally Trust your ear
Grammar Questions, cont. Pronouns (Q#5) – Sometimes, the test will throw you a sentence in which the meaning of a pronoun is unclear Identify what the pronoun is replacing Make sure it’s perfectly clear to what or to whom all pronouns refer Logic (Q#10) – Structural clues are signal words that show where the author is going On the other hand = contrast moreover, = continuation Make sure structural clues make logical sense
Grammar Questions, cont. Verb usage (Q#7) – Verbs must match their subject Who did what when? Verbs need to match their subject in tense of the surrounding context Tone (Q#13) – fluctuates from formal to informal Slang, etc. = informal; Stuffy = formal Good style = consistent tone throughout the text
12 Classic Grammar Errors It and They – Singulars & Plurals (match with verbs) Commas or Dashes – Parenthetical phrases must start and end with the same punctuation mark Run-Ons and Comma Splices – you can’t combine 2 sentences with one comma Fragments – Is the idea complete?
12 Classic Grammar Errors - Punctuation The test doesn’t have tricky rules of punctuation, but the basics: Comma (,)= pause, offset parenthetical phrases, separate introductory clauses Semicolon (;) = separate 2 complete but closely related thoughts Colon (:) = Works like an “=“ sign connecting equivalent things; usually at the beginning of a list Dash (–) = Can be used for any kind of pause, usually a long one or one indicating a significant shift in thought
12 Classic Grammar Errors -ly Endings (Adjectives & Adverbs) – Nouns and pronouns are modified by adjectives. Verbs and adjectives are modified by adverbs (-ly words) Its and It’s Their, There, and They’re Sang, Sung, Brang, Brung – Brang and brung are not used in standard English
12 Classic Grammar Errors -er and –est, More and Most (Comparatives and Superlatives) – er = comparing 2, est = comparing more than 2 Between and Among – between = 2 things, among = more than 2 (or an unknown #) Less and Fewer – Less = uncountable things, fewer = countable things People are always countable (There are always fewer people, but never less people)
OMIT Questions Some questions will offer “OMIT the underlined portion” as one of the answers Will it make sense if the portion is gone? Is the portion superfluous? Just because it gives the options, doesn’t mean it’s correct, but read the section without the part you take out. Does it still make sense? Then OMIT.
Nonstandard Questions Some questions (about 10 per exam), don’t follow the standard format. They pose a question and offer 4 possible responses Usually, the responses are “yes” or “no” with an explanation PAY ATTENTION TO THE REASONING
Nonstandard Example …Later, Pike fell while valiantly defending America in the war of 1812.  He actually died 40. Suppose the author considered adding the following sentence at this point: “It goes without saying that this occurred after he discovered Pike’s Peak.” Given the overall purpose of the passage, would this sentence be appropriate? F. No, because the sentence adds nothing to the meaning of the passage. G. No, because the passage is not concerned with Pike’s achievements. H. Yes, because otherwise the sequence of events would be unclear. J. Yes; though the sentence is not needed, the author recognizes this fact by using the phrase “it goes without saying”
The Correct Answer Is F. Though G correctly indicates that the sentence doesn’t belong in the passage, it offers a pretty inappropriate reason Choices H and J, meanwhile, are wrong because they recommend including a sentence that is clearly redundant
Why Nonstandard Questions? Many of them occur at the end of the passage They ask about the meaning, purpose, or tone of the text Others ask you to evaluate Others ask you to determine the proper order of words, sentences, or paragraphs that have been scrambled.