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ACT English and Reading Introduction



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Time: The exam will take just under 3 hours.

Rationale – what the test writers expect you to be able to do and will test you on the following: “Solve problems, draw conclusions, make inferences and think analytically.  “Remember, the ACT emphasizes thinking skills.”


English section (Part 1): you are the editor of 5 passages, with 15 questions each for a total of 75 questions.  You have 45 minutes to do the entire section.  Each underlined portion is the place you will ‘edit’ to see if it should be changed or left the way the passage was written.  A varied type of editorial problem is presented in each case, but they can be divided into two kinds of questions:

  1. Usage / Mechanics questions: A) Punctuation – 10 questions.  B) Grammar and usage – 12 questions.  C) Sentence structure – 18 questions.  (40 total questions).
  • For the usage / mechanics section you need to know: Conventions of standard grammatical English, basic punctuation, how to write complete and organized sentences.
  1. Rhetorical Skills questions: A) Writing strategy – 12 questions. B) Organization – 11 questions. C) Style – 12 questions. (35 total questions).
  • For the rhetorical skills questions you need to know: basic understanding of rhetoric – is it unified, organized and consistent.

ð Each of the five passages has about 325 words.  You have about 30 seconds per question – you need to get 55 questions out of the 75 correct to have a shot at your standard, garden variety University.


Reading Section: (Part 4): This section is designed to test your ability to read and understand material you’ll see on the college level.

Rationale / Format: 4 passages – 750 words each, from 4 areas.  10 questions after each passage, for 40 questions total.  This gives you 3 – 4 minutes per passage and 4 minutes for the 10 questions, which works out to about 25 seconds per question.  To answer these questions you must be able to:

ð Infer

ð Find implications

ð Identify main ideas

ð See cause and effect

ð Understand vocabulary in context

ð Recognize author intent

ð Analyze the sequence of events

ð Identify the significance of selected details

ð Separate fact from fiction

ð Evaluate the validity of ideas.


Sub score 1) Arts and Literature (Prose Fiction and Humanities passages)

Sub score 2) Social Studies / Science (Social Science and Natural Science passages)

ð Use these two sub scores to identify your trouble spots or strengths.

 Passage Types and possible topics:

ð Prose Fiction: novels and short stories.

ð Humanities: architecture, art, dance, ethics, film, language and literature, criticism, music, philosophy, radio, TV, theater.

ð Social Studies: anthropology, archeology, business, economics, education, geography, history, political science, psychology, sociology.

ð Natural Science: anatomy, astronomy, biology, botany, chemistry, ecology, geology, medicine, meteorology, microbiology, natural history, psychology physics, technology, zoology.



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