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Top 3 ACT English Strategies That You Haven’t Heard Of

Updated on January 29, 2011

ACT English Strategies and Tips : Overview

The English section of the ACT is a challenging and fast-paced section, consisting of 75 questions. In order to get a perfect or near-perfect score on the English section, you will need to memorize the grammatical material it covers. However, there are always a few questions in the English section that are extremely tricky no matter how well one knows grammar. For these situations, I offer three little-known strategies for helping you determine the right answer to a question.


1. Which Answer Would Anderson Cooper Choose?

The ACT deals with what is called ‘Standard English’(the type of English that a TV newscaster would use). So if you are stuck between two choices, ask yourself, how would a CNN reporter say it? That will usually guide you toward the right answer.


2. Shorter is Better.

The correct answer is always short and concise. Standard English doesn’t have ‘fluff’ adjectives or adverbs in it; the sentences are never longer than they need to be.  For example, if an answer choice contains a phrase like “he was happy and felt very cheerful”, that answer choice is probably incorrect because it needlessly long. If someone is happy, by definition they are also feeling cheerful; therefore, the phrase is redundant. So remember, even if an answer choice is grammatically correct, if the word count is longer than it absolutely needs to be, is not Standard English.


3. Read Your Choices Out Loud

If you are having trouble with a grammar question, reading the answers out loud to yourself can help you figure things out. Our ears can pick up on nuances in the language better than you think; many times, hearing something out load will help you hear it for what it really is! Of course, using this strategy on ACT test day probably isn’t the wisest idea – but by then you should have practiced this technique enough to be able to simply mouth things to yourself during the test.

Let me know if any of these ACT English strategies helped, or if you have other ones to suggest!

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