How Should Students Prepare for the ACT English Test?

Are you planning on attending college or university? If so you should start to prepare to take the ACT English test.

If you haven’t heard of the ACT English test before, not to worry! This test is a multiple choice entrance exam students take in the United States to pursue higher studies. English is one of the most extensive sections on the ACT exam, so it is best to be prepared fully!

The ACT test allows the college admissions committee to assess students’ performance and determine their proficiency in the college-level curriculum. The ACT English section is designed in an extensive manner. The aim of the test is to examine students’ writing abilities, competent communication skills, and basic grammar.

As mentioned earlier, this is a multiple choice test covering the entire scope of a student’s editorial skills, without having them understand complex grammar jargon.

Let this article act as a guide to help you get into great shape for this test. We will run through everything from what the test involves to 6 of the best strategies for taking the test. So, let’s get into it…

What is ACT English?

Before we proceed with all the strategies and tips, familiarizing yourself with the ACT English section and what you should expect in the test is a great place to begin.

Here are some helpful points about the exam to consider;

  • English is the first section of the ACT exam.
  • It has 36 points and will make up a fourth of the ACT score.
  • You will have 45-minutes to complete the ACT English test.
  • It comprises 75 multiple-choice questions.
  • This means you will have 36 seconds to tick one multiple choice question to complete the entire section in 45-minutes.
  • The multiple-choice questions in the ACT English section follow multiple essays or passages.
  • Your rhetorical skills, sentence structuring, grammar rules, and mechanics are all tested in the ACT exam.

So, this general overview of the ACT English test highlights everything you need to know before you start your preparation. Now that you have an idea of what is involved, let’s look at some strategies to put in place to help you achieve a great result.

6 Test Taking Strategies for the ACT English Test

Preparing as best as you can is really important for any upcoming test. It’s also essential to remember that the study strategies you utilize for a practical preparation session must be super effective. The ACT English test is not something you can take by reading out of the book, so having some practical strategies on hand will be very useful.

There are several studying strategies that you can use and apply on the test day. These techniques will make sure that you can put your knowledge to the best use. We have created a list of the most effective top 6 strategies to take an ACT test. Why not apply them while you prepare for the exam and get on track to achieving the best result possible!?

  1. Never Rely on What Sounds Right to You

Languages are intuitive; many people habitually go with their gut when answering stylistic or grammar questions. This may work in real life but may not be as useful during the ACT test.

What you can do to make sure it never happens is to read the writing simply and be sure to understand it completely. Then, once you have gone through it, review the multiple-choice questions and then make a guess based on your solid understanding.

  1. Read the Complete Text

In the ACT English section, the underlined portion of the sentence is the most critical part of the exam. Therefore, your correct answers will be directly linked to an underlined portion of various questions.

But, that being said, you shouldn’t leave the remaining text. Many students are usually tempted to ignore the rest of the part to save time, but that can also cost you your ACT score.

Always read the complete sentence or the paragraph. The sentence structure and the context of the text will have equal importance in helping you choose the accurate answer.

  1. Use a Timer

Although having 45 minutes to answer 75 multiple-choice questions may feel like sufficient time, utilizing strong time management skills here will prove very useful here. So, in this case, we recommend using a timer while taking some practice tests to get a feel for the timing.

This will help you assess how long you are taking to complete the exam. You can also calculate how much time is spent on a single exam question and speed up your pace accordingly.

Some students fail to recognize the importance of time management during their ACT test, and doing so can have a huge impact on the grade they achieve. Even if you have a good grip over the course matter but cannot complete your test in the given time, you will only end up in trouble.

So, to avoid this happening, when you start performing practical tests, you should time your performance.

  1. Go Through the Question Twice

Seeing as the ACT English is a challenging exam; you must go through your questions twice to understand what is being asked. Sometimes, a query may refer to a single writing element like emphasis or tone, whereas some questions will not.

Remember to consider the sentence structure before choosing an answer. Sometimes, the grammatical option may feel like the best answer to the question, but considering all options first is crucial.

  1. Choose the Shortest Option

One hack we have figured out over the years regarding the ACT English test is that the shortest option is usually the correct answer.

Once you have read through the complete sentences, figure out which one of your options delivers the answer most concisely. Just make sure the option you choose is conducive to a full text. It should contain all the information in a complete sentence.

Avoid choosing wordy sentences. They may seem right but are usually incorrect answers.

  1. Go Through Basic ACT Grammar Rules & Key Concepts

Before we talk about ACT English tips, you should know that being familiar with basic ACT grammar rules is vital for attempting this exam. You won’t have to state the rules on the test from A-Z. Instead, you will need a working knowledge of grammar rules and apply them to answer correctly. Knowledge of grammar rules will help you, even more, when you have an excellent command of English.


One fundamental key concept in grammar is agreement. For example, an agreement is when a word changes its form in a sentence due to other parts. It is also known as transitional sentences.

If there is no agreement in the sentence, it is grammatically incorrect. Even if the sentence sounds conclusive, it will remain incorrect without an agreement. Keeping this in mind when taking the test will ensure your level of grammar remains high!

Subject-Verb Agreement

Another part of this same rule is subject-verb agreement. In this grammatical rule, you must match the relative verb in the sentence with the noun or the verb. For instance, if you’re using a singular noun, you must also use a singular relative verb.

Run-on Sentences

A sentence that infuses two independent clauses together is said to be a run-on sentence. These sentences are pretty long and may even feel like a mouthful of words, so they can sometimes be easy to spot. You may need to correct these run-on sentences by adding correct punctuation such as semi-colons, commas, exclamation marks, and full stops.

We have often found splitting a run-on sentence into two separate sentences for accuracy is even better.


When taking an ACT English Test, you must avoid ambiguity. If you think a sentence is confusing because whatever is referred to in the writing sample is unclear. Then this is a hint.

Even if you can figure out what the entire passage is referring to, you still need to be clear there is no ambiguity present.

Top 7 ACT English Section Tips

Burying yourself in the syllabus and trying to arm yourself with extensive knowledge for the ACT English section test can feel overwhelming.

So, to make your study journey a little less stressful, this test section asks many questions that are usually not taught in school.

You must be skilled in applying your knowledge and using all the information you have to find the answers correctly. So, to make things easier, here are a few tips to help you out!

  1. Learn the Grammar Rules Extensively

As we’ve mentioned, having a complete understanding of grammatical rules is the first step to having excellent test scores in the ACT English section. One fortunate fact about ACT grammatical rules is they test the same rules repeatedly.

If you have extensive knowledge and understanding of the basic grammar rule, you will be well on your way to having great test scores. In addition, you can take a grammar test for an ACT from past exams and know what kind of grammar errors will appear in your test.

You can also get assistance from helping papers. These papers have strategies, techniques, and various tops for solving past questions in the ACT English section.

Focus on the Common Rules

One small tip we’d like to give you is to focus more on standard and basic grammar errors instead of trying to learn it all in one go. You should be familiar with all the rules but at least have a really strong grip on the basic ones.

  1. Review Different Types of Rhetorical Skills Questions and Strategize Accordingly

There is a tremendous difference between grammatical errors and rhetorical skills questions. These questions assess how well you comprehend and analyze what you read instead of your grammar approach.

So, you need to understand what you’re being asked in these questions to ensure you have answered correctly. Some of these rhetorical questions will refer to,

  • Add/Delete
  • Macro Logic
  • Relevance
  • Transitional Logic
  • Formality
  • Author Main Goal
  • Author Technique

Solve Practice Tests

You can only be good at solving rhetorical errors by practising repeatedly. It would be best to comprehend what the examiner asks by constantly reviewing the question. You can improve your understanding by solving practice problems.

  1. Understand Your Mistakes by Solving Practice Exams

“Practice makes perfect” should be your sole motto to complete the ACT English test successfully. The only way you will get through and achieve your target for this unique test is by understanding every one of your mistakes.

Make Use of Practice Test

You can purchase official practice tests to improve your command of the ACT English section. However, most of the errors you see in a practice test are likely to appear on the test day. So, it would be better to know what to expect the day of the ACT English test.

How Can You Understand Your Mistakes?

Doing tons of practice problems will help you be consistent in answering questions. But you can never improve or learn if you don’t assess where you’re going wrong.

So, you need to take some time and fully understand your mistakes, so that next time you can prevent them when solving a practice test. Here are some tips on how you can improve where you’re lacking and prepare ACT English section test more efficiently;

  • Circle the questions that you’re unsure of. You don’t always have to perform accurately. Even if there is a 20% chance that you may not know the answer, guess your response but don’t forget to circle it.
  • Review all the questions you circled or answered incorrectly when grading your practice test. This is how you can revise your mistakes and even narrow down your answers by guessing.
  • On a notepad or a computer document, write down all the questions you missed and also write reasons regarding why you were confused. You can also create different sections for rhetorical questions and grammar errors to better understand your mistakes.

Once you have all the missed questions and the ones you were unsure of, go through your course material again and review the content that confuses you most, so you can avoid making the same mistake twice.

  1. Identify Your Weak Point

Moving ahead with more ACT English tips, when you list all your wrong answers and categorize them, you will be able to identify your weaknesses.

Spend More Time Improving Where You Lack

Once you have categorized the questions causing you to lose score, you will be able to determine what part of the practice test you don’t understand. For example, is parallelism giving you a hard time? Or are you having trouble with relative verbs and pronoun agreement?

You may also struggle with specific rhetorical questions such as macro logic or add/delete. But the only way to figure out where you’re lacking and then be on the road to improvement is by narrowing down your mistakes.

Moreover, it would be best if you continued studying where you’re having trouble with answer choices. Take a practice test, sometimes even twice daily, and then evaluate. See if you’re improving or not.

  1. Time Management Is Crucial

As we’ve established earlier, another essential aspect of performing great on your ACT English test is ensuring time management is on point. During your practice test, use a timer and act like it is the day of your test.

Calculate how long you take to answer each question and finish the entire test. If the time runs out and you still aren’t done with your test, keep going but mark those questions you finished after the allotted time.

Grade your test and see how much you scored in real time and extra time. As far as time management is concerned, that will eventually improve as you keep performing a practice test. Every time you complete a test, see how much time it takes and whether it was reduced or not.

Remember that you will have 45-minutes to finish the official ACT. So, it would help if you continued your ACT prep accordingly.

  1. Avoid Repetition

If something has already been implied or stated, prevent yourself from repeating it. You don’t have to add some adjectives in a single sentence that will make the whole passage sound more redundant.

You need to keep things as simple as possible. Don’t go into complex sentence structures or add verbs that may go above the head of an average reader. This is why it is important to always read the whole sentence before choosing an answer.

Several students make this mistake of repetition only because they don’t read passages completely. If you’d like your test to stand out, ensure you know the full context of the passage.

  1. Don’t Forget to Build Your Stamina

ACT English test can be very taxing. So, during your test prep, you must also ensure you can endure the pressure without losing focus. You should have plenty of energy to successfully complete the test and give it your best shot.

You can take three tests before the official date and mimic that day’s environment as closely as possible.

Pay all your attention to your test and act like you’re attempting it for the first and last time. Turn off your phone, so there are no distractions. Once you have tried all the sample test questions and gone over the English test, again and again, grade your paper and see how you are doing.

Go over all your answer choices and continue English ACT prep throughout the day. Then, take a break and prepare for tomorrow when your performance is up to the mark. Your practice test covers everything that will appear on a whole day. After that, you should be good to go.

Some Common FAQs About ACT English Test

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about the ACT English test below;

  • Does the ACT English Test only ask about grammar rules?

ACT English is a comprehensive test for high-school students that analyzes your language skills and how extensive your reading is. It doesn’t have any syllabus that you will have to memorize.

However, knowing grammar rules such as pronoun-antecedent agreement, verb tense, present tense, and prepositional phrases can help you succeed.

  • How much time will I have to take ACT English test?

You will have about 45-minutes to finish your test.

  • How will I know the correct answer to an ACT English test?

It will help if you take practice tests for ACT English to do well on the day of your exams. Your test prep will take a lot of time, so be sure to start a few months before the test commences.

  • Can I appear in the ACT English test more than once?

Yes, you can appear in the ACT English test more than once.

  • How many practice tests should I perform before taking the ACT English test?

We recommend performing practice tests as many as you can before you take ACT English test. Also, evaluate your test every time you complete it to know how much more you need to improve.

You may also want to check: How to Check your GPA on Infinite Campus?

Final verdict

So, this guide should aid you in preparing for the ACT English test prep. As you can see, it takes a lot of time and effort to ensure you successfully attempt this exam. Although, you do have the chance to take this test twice, putting in great effort will help you to do super in one go.

Every year, thousands of students from the United States appear in the ACT English test. It is said to be one of the most important milestones of a student’s career as they leave high school behind.

It may seem difficult initially, but as you get the hang of practical tests, go over your mistakes again and again you will improve your ideas, and your concepts will flourish. The only road to success here is that you keep trying.

When succeeding in the ACT English test, you must know not to further personal narratives. You must stick to your book and make educated guesses if you are confused between similar answers.

Taking online classes for test prep, improving your editing skills, and ensuring you don’t drain yourself is equally important. There are several resources on the internet that you can use to prep for the exam all on your own.

Hopefully, this article has been worth your time and attention. If there are more questions you’d like to ask regarding the ACT English test, feel free to leave us with your feedback and good luck!

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