ACT Series: How to Prepare for the English Section of the ACT Test

The ACT is important to high school students in Missouri and across the U.S. for several reasons. It is an important factor that is considered in college admissions and how scholarships are awarded. It can help students become eligible for the A+ Scholarship and in some parts of the state is a requirement to graduate. While the level of importance can differ among students, based on their plans, it is a tough challenge for everyone their first time. Students take timed tests in multiple subjects, answering questions that can confuse them or make them second guess themselves.

This is the first article in a four-part series on the ACT, describing each of the subject tests and how to prepare for them. We will being with English.

The basics of the English test

The English test has two main components. There are collections of short readings and accompanying multiple-choice questions about the passages. Individual words or phrases will be underlined and labeled as options for questions. Questions can focus on the small phrases, sections of the passage, or the entire reading as a whole. You are given 45 minutes to answer 75 questions.

How do I prepare for the test?

The ACT publishes a test breakdown, which describes how much of the test is focused on one topic. In each topic, it is further broken down into certain types of questioning. The English portion of the test will question you about conventions of Standard English, including grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure.

To help students prepare for the test, the ACT provides old versions of the test online and in print. Ask your counselor if they have copies of old booklets so you can take practice tests and time yourself.

How is the test graded?

The ACT releases its scoring rubric so you can know ahead of time what to expect. This is very helpful for students who are aiming for a specific score.

Final thoughts

The English section of the ACT is meant to demonstrate the depth of your knowledge of the subject. You either know the material or you don’t. And that is OK. Each student will bring a different level of knowledge as well as a different desire, whether you are aiming for top marks and the Bright Flight scholarship or just trying to make a certain threshold for another scholarship. The key is to find the correct pace. You don’t want to run out of time because you were overanalyzing one of the first sections. Take practice tests to get a rhythm of how the test will go. You’ve got this.

Read the other parts of the ACT Series