After weeks of hard work throughout your test preparation, it’s easy to lose touch with the core strategies that gave discipline to your work at the beginning. Though nothing can replace consistent and focused studying over extended periods of time, I’ve compiled a short list of tips that you can use to remind yourself of all the work you’ve accomplished on the English section before you head into the real ACT.
1. BE LITERAL
The unit of an answer of the ACT English section is a sentence – every correct response to a question has specific evidence within the passage to back it up, and everything you need to engage with and respond to these grammar and writing strategy-based tasks can be found within the sentence as you are reading. Be sure to read through to the end of the sentence to make sure you understand all the specific clauses within it, and remember to trust yourself – you are a native.
2. ALWAYS UNDERSTAND THE FUNCTION OF PUNCTUATION
If a punctuation mark is being used in a sentence, there’ll always be a specific reason for why it is there! Remember, commas are a change in thought, semicolons and periods both separate independent clauses/sentences, and finally, there are two main rules for colons: the colon must be preceded by an independent clause, and the information after the colon must expand or elaborate what came before, without a linking word.
3. CHECK QUANTITY AGREEMENT
When dealing with complex subject that uses modifiers to add details for the simple subject, selecting the proper verb form can be tricky. Subjects and verbs must agree in number; if the subject is singular or plural, then the verb must reflect that; the same goes for noun/pronoun agreement; if you are replacing a noun with a pronoun, make sure the pronoun agrees in quantity!
4. PAY ATTENTION TO SUBJECT/VERB AGREEMENT
When dealing with a conjugated verb in a sentence, make sure you know what the connected subject is! If you are stuck on what you see as being a difficult question, locate the conjugated verb in the sentence (the action of what is happening!) and figure out what is doing the action, then make sure the rest of the sentence’s punctuation/structure makes that clear!
5. KEEP RELATED CONTENT TOGETHER
This holds true for within both sentences and the larger structure of paragraphs within a passage: keep related conversations close to one another! When dealing with modifiers, make sure you keep the description as close as possible to what is being described. When dealing with organization, remember that arguments are established and then evidence is provided, so remember that the introduction of a term or idea will always come before its explanation. Remember that nothing beats consistent practice, but hopefully, these tips can up your intellectual game as you work toward your ACT English mastery!
-Ryan G, Instructor