The Ultimate Guide to Acing the ACT English Test


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Your ACT (American College Testing) exam date is approaching. You may (naturally) find yourself worried at the prospect, or you may have an air of confidence leading into the stretch before the big day. If the latter is true, make sure that your confidence doesn’t turn into complacency. Preparation is key. This is particularly true with the English section of the ACT test.  

Here, we’ll delve into the ACT English test, what it is, what it covers, and how long it is. We’ll also discuss what the scores are used for and how difficult the test is. And, most importantly, we’ll offer nuggets of wisdom related to the preparation process. So, read on to get the inside scoop on the ACT English test. 

What is the ACT? 

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Let’s start from the beginning. The ACT is a college admissions exam that measures students’ knowledge and skills in English, mathematics, reading, and science. Essentially, it tests your readiness for college. The ACT is accepted by all four-year universities and colleges in the United States and many international universities as well, so it’s crucial that you’re prepared to tackle it. Taking this test will open doors and lead to more opportunities for higher academia and beyond.  

What are ACT Scores Used For? 

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ACT scores are used to determine a student’s eligibility for certain scholarships, to determine placement in college classes, and to evaluate a student’s academic potential. As the ACT is also used by employers and graduate programs to evaluate potential candidates, it’s a valuable card to have up your sleeve when traversing the academic and professional world.  

What is on the English ACT? 

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The English section of the ACT consists of 75 multiple-choice questions. The 45-minute test consists of five passages, each of which is followed by a series of questions that test your comprehension, writing skills, and understanding of language conventions. The passages cover a range of topics, including social sciences, natural sciences, literary fiction, and humanities. 

Some of the specific skills tested in the English section of the ACT include: 

  • Punctuation, grammar, and usage: questions in this category assess your understanding of the conventions of standard English grammar, usage, and punctuation. 
  • Sentence structure: questions in this category evaluate your ability to construct clear and concise sentences that effectively communicate your ideas. 
  • Rhetorical skills: questions in this category assess your ability to identify and analyze rhetorical devices, such as tone, purpose, and audience. 
  • Organization and style: questions in this category evaluate your ability to organize and structure your writing in a clear and effective manner. 

How Long is the ACT English Section? 

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As mentioned above, The ACT English section consists of 75 multiple-choice questions that must be answered in 45 minutes. Again, the questions are designed to test your knowledge of grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and rhetorical skills, so familiarize yourself with each of these areas. The ACT English section is followed by the math, reading, and science sections, and an optional writing section. The test is 2 hours and 55 minutes long; the optional writing section is 40 minutes long. A short break is offered after midway through the test. 

Is the English ACT Hard? 

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The difficulty of the English ACT exam depends on a variety of factors, such as your level of preparation, prior knowledge and skills in the subject matter, and personal aptitude for the types of questions and tasks presented on the exam. 

In general, the English ACT is considered to be a challenging exam, particularly if you have not had extensive exposure to the types of questions and prompts found on standardized tests. Therefore, again, preparation is vital! 

What Is the Best Way to Study for the ACT English Section? 

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First and foremost, it’s important to keep in mind the format of the English section: You’ll be given 75 questions to answer in 45 minutes, so time management is key. The questions will cover topics like grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and rhetoric. Here are some ways to prepare: 


One of the most effective ways to study for the ACT English section is to practice, practice, practice. Take practice tests to get a feel for the types of questions you’ll encounter, and pay attention to which areas you struggle with the most. Focus your studying on those areas, and try to get as much practice as possible in those specific topics. 


Another great way to prepare for the English section is to read more. The more you read, the more familiar you’ll become with the types of writing and sentence structures that are commonly used in the test. Try to read a variety of materials, including novels, newspapers, and magazines, so you can get comfortable with different writing styles. 

Grammar and Punctuation  

Lastly, don’t forget to review the rules of grammar and punctuation. This might seem like a basic step, but it’s important to have a solid understanding of the rules in order to do well on the test. There are plenty of online resources and study guides that can help you brush up on these skills. 

Should I Get a Tutor for ACT English Test Prep? 

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Have you taken the ACT English test before? If so, how did you feel about your performance? If you struggled with the English section, it may be worth considering getting a tutor to help you improve your skills and build your confidence. 

Another thing to consider is your personal learning style. Do you feel like you learn better with one-on-one instruction? Well, a tutor could be a great fit for you. They can work with you to identify your specific strengths and weaknesses, and tailor their teaching to your individual needs. 

Ultimately, the decision to get a tutor for ACT English test prep is up to you. If you feel like you could benefit from extra support, and you’re willing and able to invest in tutoring, it could be a wise decision. But if you feel confident in your abilities and don’t want to spend the money, that’s totally okay, too. Just remember that there are other resources available to help you prepare, such as study guides and online practice tests. 

What Do I Do When I Get Stuck on a Question? 

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More likely than not, you’ll come to a challenging hurdle during the ACT English exam. When you encounter this hurdle, the best thing to do is take a step back and re-read the question. Make sure you fully understand what the question is asking and what the answer choices are. Then, you can approach the question from a different angle and use the process of elimination to narrow down the answer choices.  

If you’re still stuck, skip the question and come back to it later. Remember, time management is a priority, so first answer the questions you’re sure of before laboring over a particularly difficult one.  

How Can I Improve My English ACT Score? 

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So, how can you improve your score? Let’s go over seven brief tactics: 

  1. Familiarize yourself with the test format and question types. You can find sample questions and practice tests online or in ACT prep books. 
  2. Build your vocabulary by reading challenging materials and looking up unfamiliar words. You can also use vocabulary-building apps and websites. 
  3. Practice your grammar skills by reviewing basic rules and common errors. You can use grammar books or online resources to help you. 
  4. Improve your reading comprehension by practicing active reading techniques, such as summarizing each paragraph or making predictions about what will come next. 
  5. Learn to identify the main idea and supporting details of a passage. Pay attention to the author’s tone and purpose, and practice making inferences based on the information provided. 
  6. Practice time management skills by taking timed practice tests and pacing yourself during the actual test. 
  7. Consider working with a tutor or taking an ACT prep course to get personalized feedback and guidance on your areas of weakness. 

How Do I Get a Perfect Score on the English ACT? 

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Ultimately, getting a perfect score on the English ACT requires dedication and hard work. You should familiarize yourself with the topics covered and practice as much as possible. Focus on improving your test-taking skills such as time management and using the process of elimination. Additionally, use practice tests and drills to become comfortable with the format of the questions and to improve your speed. 

Studying for the English section of the ACT can be daunting, but with the right strategies and preparation, you can achieve success. Utilize the tips and strategies discussed in this article to help you ace the English ACT. 

TakeLessons Staff

Created with the help of AI technology.

TakeLessons Staff


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