In my experience, while students quickly become accustomed to correcting punctuation and verb errors on the ACT English section, questions about style and rhetoric can come across as much scarier. And indeed, many of the strangest questions on the ACT ask us to momentarily take on the perspective of a writer before going back to line editing comma splices and misused adverbs. Questions that ask about deleting or adding information, reorganizing the structure of a paragraph, or assessing the effectiveness of writing are all a bit foreign. But in a larger context, the apprehension that students have around acting like an author makes sense. Students are often asked in liberal arts classrooms to analyze the meaning of a passage or understand the argument of a historian. However, less time is dedicated to diving into the mechanics of how that meaning or argument is actually conveyed.
The ACT takes the opposite approach on the English section. Students will have the opportunity to show their ability to understand texts during the Reading Section. During the English section, it’s time for students to think like a writer!