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The ACT English Test

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  1. The ACT English Test • 5 Passages • 75 Questions • Minutes 9 Minutes Per Passage

  2. Strategy (16%) • Basic Grammar & Usage (16%) • Organization (15%) • Sentence Structure (24%) • Style (16%) • Punctuation (13%) Usage and Mechanics Rhetorical Skills

  3. Suggested Approach 1. Set your watch to 11:15. 2. Do NOT read the directions!

  4. Directions In the following five passages, certain words and phrases have been underlined and numbered. You will find alternatives for each underlined portion in the right-hand column. Select the one that best expresses the idea, that makes the statement acceptable in standard written English, or that is phrased most consistently with the style and tone of the entire passage.

  5. If you feel that the original version is best, select “NO CHANGE”. You will also find questions asking about a section of the passage or about the entire passage. For these questions, decide which choice gives the most appropriate response to the given question. For each question in the test, select the best choice and fill in the corresponding space on the answer folder. You may wish to read each passage through before you begin to answer the questions associated with it.

  6. Most answers cannot be determined without reading several sentences around the phrases in question. Make sure to read far enough ahead each time you choose an alternative. Any Questions?

  7. TOPIC • STYLE • TONE • ORGANIZATION SUGGESTED APPROACH 1. Set your watch to 11:15. 2. Do NOT read the directions! 3. Scan each passage before you start to read. 4. Read the ENTIRE passage. 5. Answer the questions as you come to them. 6. Circle answers in test booklet first! 7. Look for the most common errors.

  8. Most Common Errors Tested on the ACT English Singulars and Plurals (especially the word they) Pronoun Usage (I or me, he or him, etc…) Apostrophe Use (its or it’s) (whose or who’s) Proper Word Usage (there, their, they’re) (are, our) Parenthetical Phrases and Punctuation Idiomatic Preposition Use (in, of, on, to, for) Unidiomatic Verb Use (-ing endings)

  9. Pronoun Usage Subject Case I He She We They Who Whoever Object Case Me Him Her Us Them Whom Whomever

  10. Singulars and Plurals MOST common error in this area? The use of THEY When a friend borrows my car, I usually ask them to fill it with gas before they return it. When afriend borrows my car, I usually ask them to fill it with gas before they return it. When friends borrow my car, I usually ask them to fill it with gas before they returnit.

  11. Subject or Object Case Pronoun? STRATEGY: Leave out part of the sentence. Example: If you have any questions about grammar usage, ask your English teacher or (I / me) to help you. Read it again WITHOUT the words “your English teacher or” Rephrased: If you have any questions about grammar usage, ask (I /me) to help you. X

  12. WHO or WHOM? How do you decide? STRATEGY: Use the Him/He Test • Re-order the part of the sentence containing who or whom. • Rephrase with he or him. Where him is the proper choice, then whomwould also be correct.

  13. Sample Problem I wonder who/whom he bribed to get this position. To get this position, he bribed him. Correct Choice:Whom

  14. Sample Problem Whoever/Whomever the drama teacher liked received a part in the play. The drama teacher liked him. Correct Choice: Whomever

  15. Caution with the Him/He Test • Use the subject case if the pronoun • precedes a verb AND • 2) is the subject of that verb.

  16. Yes Sample Problem The police gave tickets to whoever/whomever had parked in front of the fire hydrant. 1) Is the pronoun followed by a verb? 2) Does that pronoun appear to be the subject of that verb? (Did“whoever” actually do the parking?) Yes

  17. It’s or Its? Whose orWho’s? The apostrophe takes the place of a letter. It’s= It is Who’s = Who is STRATEGY: • Slow down when you come to these. • Read the sentence as “It is” or “Who is” to be SURE you’ve chosen the correct answer.

  18. 1. Who is Line Is It Anyway… OR 2. Whose Line Is It Anyway… Sample Problem Who’s / Whose Line Is It Anyway is a funny television show. Its /It’s on the comedy channel.

  19. 1.It is on the comedy channel OR 2. Its on the comedy channel Sample Problem Who’s / Whose Line Is It Anyway is a funny television show. Its /It’s on the comedy channel.

  20. Our = possession Are = Verb Our & Are For questions involving proper word usage—SLOW DOWN and READ CAREFULLY!!!!! Our is spelled like your. Helpful Tip:

  21. There, their, and they’re There = Location There contains the word here. Their = Possession. They’re = They are Substitute “They are” in the sentence and see if it makes sense.

  22. Parenthetical Phrases Definition: Phrases which could be removed and the sentence would still be complete. Bob, on his way to the store, saw a lizard. Bob saw a lizard. RULE: Parenthetical phrases must begin AND end with the same punctuation mark.

  23. Punctuation – Sample Problem On the day of the test, his over-protective mother packed him an ACT survival kit. Ten sharpened pencils, a pencil sharpener, a calculator, a pack of batteries, three different-weight sweaters, four pieces of fruit, a liter of spring water and a box of tissues. A. NO CHANGE B. kit, ten C. kit; ten D. kit: ten D.

  24. Idiomatic Preposition Use Certain phrases require the use of particular prepositions. STRATEGY: Trust your ear. Is that what most people say? “I will pick you up tonight at quarter of six.” “I will pick you up tonight at quarter to six.”

  25. More Idiomatic Prepositions She tried to instill on me a respectto the law. She tried to instill in me a respectof the law. I want to protect you in all dangers. I want to protect you from all dangers.

  26. Example: When I left for the store, I was forgetting my list. Correction: When I left for the store, I forgot my list. Unidiomatic Verb Use (-ing endings) RULE: -ing endings are used to indicate repeated or continuous action and should NOT be used for a single action that occurs once.

  27. OMITthe MaterialWhen… • It is unnecessary • It is repetitious, or • It is wordy Correct more than half of the time. When in doubt, take it out!

  28. Example of Wordiness As I previously mentioned to you when explaining at last week’s meeting the incredible and undisputed advantages of combining our two clubs, The Poetry Society and the Poets Outside, I have written up here for your further study my thoughts on the matter, detailing the many benefits that will accrue to both organizations. At last week’s meeting, I said there were benefits to combining our two clubs. Here’s a note repeating why.

  29. Spielberg’s Amistad is the filmmaker’s second attempt to show that someone who is an unexcelled creator of funny, fast-paced action movies can also be a producer of films that try to deal in a serious fashion with weighty historical and moral themes. (42 words) Spielberg’s Amistad is the filmmaker’s second attempt at dealing in a serious fashion with weighty historical and moral themes. (19 words) Spielberg’s Amistad is the filmmaker’s second attempt to show that an unexcelled creator of funny, fast-paced action movies can also produce films dealing seriously with weighty historical and moral themes. (30 words)

  30. The remarkable growth in increased attendance currently being enjoyed by such formerly moribund sports franchises as baseball’s Cleveland Indians shows that building a new stadium can have a powerful effect on the popularity of a team. C. • NO CHANGE • The growth in attendance remarkably being enjoyed currently • The remarkable growth in attendance currently enjoyed • The remarkable attendance boom currently enjoyed

  31. Later, Pike fell while valiantly defending America in the War of 1812. It goes without saying that this took place after he discovered Pike’s Peak. He actually died near York (now called Toronto)… I. • NO CHANGE • Clearly, this must have occurred subsequent to his discovering Pike’s Peak. • This was after he found Pike’s Peak. • OMIT the underlined portion.

  32. [1] The immigration laws led, ultimately, to a quota system based on the number of individuals of each national origin reported in the 1890 census. [2] The United States, which was founded mainly by people who had emigrated from northern Europe, had an essentially open-door immigration policy for the first 100 years of existence. [3] But starting in the 1880s and continuing through the 1920s, Congress passed a series of restrictive immigration laws. [4] The door to freedom hadn’t been slammed shut, exactly, but was now open only to the “right” sort of people. SEQUENCING Which of the following sequences of sentences will make this paragraph most logical? • 4,3,1,2 B. 2,3,1,4 • C. 1,3,2,4 D. 2,3,4,1 • 4,3,1,2 B. 2,3,1,4 • C. 1,3,2,4 D. 2,3,4,1

  33. School Paper Editorial The first reason why the Denville school district should not be combined with the Jackson school district is the fact that the schools have been sports rivals for too long. Trying to unite the schools after so many years of competition would inevitably lead to friction. [2] 1 • A. NO CHANGE • B. because of the fact that • C. about • D. that D.

  34. The first reason why the Denville school district should not be combined with the Jackson school district is the fact that the schools have been sports rivals for too long. Trying to unite the schools after so many years of competition would inevitably lead to friction. [2] • 2. Is the author’s introductory paragraph effective? • Yes, because it gets immediately to the problem • No, because an introduction should outline the whole subject. • No, because it doesn’t say how many other reasons there will be. • Yes, because sports is the number one interest of most students. B.

  35. Important Points • 1/3 of English items concern redundancy, verbosity, and relevance. • NEVER let the passage repeat itself. • Stay true to the author’s tone. • Don’t try to “correct” EVERY sentence. • Trust your ear.

  36. CAUTION! • Don’t Add a New Mistake • Avoid Changing the Meaning When Editing

  37. Grammar Review Among those who played a crucial role in the Northern victory at Gettysburg were Joshua Chamberlain, a Union colonel from Maine who later enjoyed a distinguished career as an educator and politician. Among those who played a crucial role in the Northern victory at Gettysburg wasJoshua Chamberlain, a Union colonel from Maine who later enjoyed a distinguished career as an educator and politician.

  38. Dismayed by the news that a top executive had suddenly accepted a job with a competitor, the price of the company’s stock fell sharply the next day. Problem: Dangling Modifier Possible correction: Stockholders were dismayed…,and the price…

  39. A fabled center of monastic life during the Middle Ages, each summer thousands of visitors travel to the island of Iona near the coast of Ireland. Problem: Misplaced Modifier Suggestion: Move “A fabled center of monastic life during the Middle Ages” after the phrase “the island of Iona”.

  40. In the 90s, albums by Pearl Jam appeared consistent on the charts even without the exposure of music videos. In the 90s, albums by Pearl Jam appeared consistently on the charts even without the exposure of music videos.

  41. Although the hospital administrators interviewed many staff members about the repeated cases of staph infections they had no explanation for the puzzling pattern of outbreaks. WHO had no explanation? The administrators? The staff? Possible Correction: Although the hospital administrators interviewed many staff members about the repeated cases of staph infections the staff had no explanation for the puzzling pattern of outbreaks.

  42. Each member of the tour group should have their tickets by the end of the week. Problem: pronoun usage Each member of the tour group should have his or her tickets by the end of the week. OR All members of the tour group should have their tickets by the end of the week.

  43. Representatives to the student senate were asked to pursue often contradictory goals: boosting student acceptance of more homework, developing explanations for adding two hours to the length of each school day, and the reduction of rampant poor morale. Problem: Parallelism

  44. Representatives to the student senate were asked to pursue often contradictory goals: boosting student acceptance of more homework, developing explanations for adding two hours to the length of each school day, and the reduction of rampant poor morale. “…reducing rampant poor morale.”

  45. In the Olympics the first place winner gets a gold medal, second place, a silver medal, and third place, a bronze medal. In the Olympics the first place winner gets a gold medal; second place, a silver medal; and third place, a bronze medal.

  46. Princess Diana, for who the song Candle in the Wind was written died tragically in an automobile accident. Princess Diana, for whom the song Candle in the Wind was written, died tragically in an automobile accident.

  47. The children had been playing in the park, they were covered in mud. • The children had been playing in the park. They were covered in mud. • The children had been playing in the park, and they were covered in mud. • The children had been playing in the park; they were covered in mud.