ACT English Preparation Curriculum Framework Project Spring 2012
Schedule for Lesson #1 • Introduction to Test • Strategies • General • Commas/Punctuation • Adjective vs Adverb
Introduction to the Test:Why Prepare for the ACT? • 2 Categories of SKILLS Tested on the ACT: • Usage & Mechanics Punctuation, Usage, and Sentence Structure • Rhetorical Skills Word Choice, Organization, and Topic Development • These lessons will focus on TEST TAKING STRATEGIES.
Introduction to the Test The ACT English passages test your EDITING Skills • There are FIVE (5) separate passages • Each passage asks 15 questions • 6–10 of those questions are Category 1: (Usage and Mechanics) • 5–9 of the questions are Category 2: • (Rhetorical Skills)
Introduction to the Test:Order of Passages • By practicing with these passages, you can figure out your strengths and weaknesses. • Start with your strengths.
Introduction to the Test:Content of the English TestCATEGORY 1: Usage & Mechanics • Punctuation (10 questions) • commas (most frequent) • apostrophes (2nd most) • colons & semicolons • parenthesis & dashes
Introduction to the Test:Content of the English TestCATEGORY 1: Usage & Mechanics • Basic Grammar & Usage (12 questions) • agreement (subject-verb; pronoun-antecedent) • forms (of verbs & pronouns and adjective vs. adverb) • cases (of verbs & pronouns)
Introduction to the Test:Content of the English TestCATEGORY 1: Usage & Mechanics • Sentence Structure (18 questions) • clause relationships (most frequent) • parallel structure (2nd most) • placement of modifiers
Introduction to the Test:Content of the English TestCATEGORY 2: Rhetorical Skills • Writing Strategy (12 questions) • supporting a point (evidence) • introducing or concluding a paragraph • transitions • phrasing a statement
Introduction to the Test:Content of the English TestCATEGORY 2: Rhetorical Skills • Organization (11 questions) • sentence order • paragraph order • placement of a word or phrase
Introduction to the Test:Content of the English TestCATEGORY 2: Rhetorical Skills • Style (12 questions) • eliminate redundancy • choose appropriate word • choose appropriate phrase
Introduction to the Test:A CLOSER LOOK AT CATEGORY 1Usage and Mechanics • PUNCTUATION • GRAMMAR & USAGE • SENTENCE STRUCTURE
Introduction to the Test:PUNCTUATION • Know your comma rules! These are worth knowing and recognizing in writing; these are the most common questions in this category; getting these correct will increase your score dramatically. • Apostrophes Apostrophes are used in two ways: to show possession/ownership and to combine two words (it + is = it’s). It is crucial to understand the differences between the two. Placement of apostrophes are also important to know.
Introduction to the Test:GRAMMAR & USAGE • TARGETS A SINGLE INCORRECT WORD One word in the underlined portion is incorrect (or only one word is underlined). It will be an incorrect verb form, an incorrect pronoun, or even an incorrect form of a modifier. • Practice To do better with these questions, it is important that you learn correct verbs, pronouns, and adjective/adverbs. You will never be asked to define these, but you need to recognize them and what is correct and what is not.
Introduction to the Test:SENTENCE STRUCTURE • DEALS with the sentence as a whole The underlined portion may not be the whole sentence, but you need to read the whole sentence to figure out what is wrong • Practice To do better with these questions, it is important that you learn the difference between a clause and a phrase; you will also need to get familiar with what a modifier is and the placement of a modifier.
Introduction to the Test:A CLOSER LOOK AT CATEGORY 2Rhetorical Skills • WRITING STRATEGY • ORGANIZATION • STYLE
Introduction to the Test:WRITING STRATEGY • READ THE PASSAGE To do better with this, you must read and understand the passage; this is difficult because you are also fixing the grammar errors. If you don’t understand the purpose and tone of the passage, it will be difficult to improve. THAT’S OKAY. You can concentrate on what you do know from MEL-Con. That will help. • Transitions Think about MEL-Con paragraphs. Many of the questions in this section deal with picking the appropriate transitions.
Introduction to the Test:ORGANIZATION • THIS CATEGORY CAN ASK ONE OF THREE THINGS • 1. Reorganize a sentence • 2. Reorder sentences in a paragraph • 3. Reorder paragraphs of the whole passage. THE KEY is to pay attention to the whole passage and what it all means. How you organize your own paragraphs and essays is similar: MEL-Con, ACTS, STAC are all organizational patterns.
Introduction to the Test:STYLE • WORD CHOICE To improve in this skill, get familiar with the most common phrases that are redundant. • READ THE PASSAGE Again, you need to understand the passage as a whole to do better in this category; the tone of the piece is important. You can’t think about what you hear but rather what you know is correct.
Introduction to the Test:THE “NOT” or “EXCEPT” QUESTIONS • 3 of the 4 answers are CORRECT. • BE CAREFUL! You need to choose the WRONG answer for these questions. • You need to know ALL of the grammar rules that perform the same function • Cross off answers you know are correct. Which of the following would NOT replace the underlined portion: Leon was also fascinated by faraway places. She covered her bedroom walls with postcards of famous sites. • A. places, so she • B. places: she • C. places; therefore, she • D. places, she [CORRECT CHOICE because it is WRONG]
Schedule for Lesson #2 • Introduction to Test • Testing Strategies • General • Commas/Punctuation • Adjective vs Adverb
Tests & Strategies: Part 1 General Strategies: • Read the entire passage first • Answer questions in order they appear • Leave Nothing Blank; guess if you don’t know • Eliminate wrong answers first if you have to guess • Be careful of distracters that OVER correct a problem • Pick the SHORTEST answer
General Strategy #1: Read the Entire Passage first • Read or skim the entire passage • This will help you be familiar with what it is about. • Several questions have to do with the passage as a whole; if you are familiar with it by reading it first, you will do better. • Many students want to get right to the underlined parts. If you do this, you will be tricked!
General Strategy #2: Answer the questions in the order that they appear • Do not go out of order or jump around • One question can depend on a previous question. • A question can give you a clue to another. • If you skip around, you may not get the whole idea of what is being asked • Questions are NOT in order of difficulty; trying to find easier questions is not a good strategy • Going in order will help you with the organizational questions
General Strategy #3: Leave nothing blank; guess if you don’t know • There is no penalty for guessing • If you leave it blank, it will be marked wrong anyway; better to guess and increase your chances of getting it correct. • In the ENGLISH TEST, it is best to guess and move on; if you don’t know the answer pretty quickly, scratching your head and trying to “work it out” will not help, it will only frustrate you. • This test is about what you know, not what you can “figure out.”
General Strategy #4: Eliminate wrong answers first • Even when you guess, try to eliminate something • If there is an answer that is obviously wrong, cross it off. • Each one you cross off increases your chance of making a correct guess. • These are your odds: • Leave blank, it’s wrong • Guess, you have a 25% chance • Cross off one wrong answer, you have a 33% chance • Cross off two answers you identify as wrong, you have a 50% chance. Not too bad!
General Strategy #5: Watch out for answers that OVER correct a problem • Many of the wrong answers are there to DISTRACT you • Be careful; these answers will over-correct the real problem • The correct answer is NOT necessarily the one that changes the original the most • The answer is usually the one that corrects one, maybe two problems • Distracters will change more elements of the underlined portion; you want to just change the problem, not add more errors
General Strategy #6: Choose the SHORTEST answer • EXAMPLE from Practice ACT test (56A) #12 Sure enough, there was Roy, still sound asleep, curled up on the back pew, carved out of sturdy white oak. • NO CHANGE • pew, hewn from locally harvested oak lumber. • pew, made from mountain oak. J. pew. CORRECT ANSWER: J (the shortest answer!)
Schedule for Lesson #3, 4, 5 • Introduction to Test • Testing Strategies • General • Commas/Punctuation • Adjective vs Adverb
Many questions deal with the COMMA RULES COMMAS/PUNCTUATION PT. 1 • RULE #1 FANBOYS • FOR • AND • NOR • BUT • OR • YET • SO These seven little words are the first KEY to correctly placing commas. They are easy to remember, so MEMORIZE them. Once you RECOGNIZE them in a sentence, you can evaluate how they are being used so you can correctly place a comma.
IMPORTANT CONCEPT #1 COMMAS/PUNCTUATION PT. 1 • FANBOYS get a comma BEFORE them if and only if there is a complete sentence on both sides of it. FANBOYS never get a comma AFTER. My dog is a poodle, and John’s dog is a terrier. These can be made into TWO SEPARATE sentences. My dog is a poodle. John’s dog is a terrier. COMPLETE SENTENCE COMMA FANBOY COMPLETE SENTENCE
General Strategy #6: Choose the SHORTEST answer • When you really don’t know or are guessing, pick the shortest answer • Never replace an underlined portion with MORE WORDS unless you know it is for sure the right answer • Less is more! • This test expects you to make it as concise as possible • Never pick an answer that says something twice (EX: It was free. We didn’t have to pay for it) • The same is true with adding information– never add extra information even if it is correct
IMPORTANT CONCEPT #1 COMMAS/PUNCTUATION PT. 1 • FANBOYS get a comma BEFORE them if and only if there is a complete sentence on both sides of it. Now let’s look at a FANBOYS when it is NOT doing that: My dog is a poodle and so is John’s. NO COMMA before “AND” “So is John’s” is not a sentence by itself.
PUNCTUATION PLEASE REFER TO YOUR PRACTICE PASSAGES TEST 0556A
Example from Practice Test (56A) • #69 • He not only executed the drawings for the company’s patent applications but also designed an improved incandescent lamp. • NO CHANGE • applications but, also • applications but also, • applications; but also • CORRECT ANSWER: A • After the FANBOYS (but), it is NOT a complete sentence, so it does not get a comma (or any other punctuation) • “also designed an improved incandescent lamp” is not a sentence by itself
MORE FANBOYS Knowledge: • AND and OR These two may be used in a series (list) as well. In that case, the rule is a bit different. • EX. She bought red, yellow, and white flowers. • EX. Mrs. Kildeer might go to the corner store, the mall, or Walmart. comma before AND because it is a list comma before OR because it is a list
MORE FANBOYS Knowledge: • MOST COMMON ERROR Many of us want to put a comma before a FANBOYS when we shouldn’t. THESE ARE ALL WRONG. Can you explain why? It is sad, but true. He couldn’t decide if he wanted to go, or not. The giraffe is an animal with a long, but narrow neck. Frankie was neither a tall man, nor a short one.
COMMAS/PUNCTUATION PT. 1 RULE #2 • NONESSENTIALS Nonessentials are just that. They are NOT ESSENTIAL/NOT IMPORTANT to the understanding of the sentence. THE RULE: Nonessentials are always surrounded by punctuation. At the beginning of a sentence, they begin with a capital letter and then get a comma. In the middle of a sentence, they get a comma before and a comma after At the end of a sentence, a comma before and a period at the end.
COMMAS/PUNCTUATION PT. 1 IMPORTANT CONCEPT #2 • NONESSENTIALS: EXAMPLES BEGINNING OF A SENTENCE: Knowing the truth, James told his mother who did it. MIDDLE OF A SENTENCE: James, knowing the truth, told his mother who did it. END OF A SENTENCE: James told his mother who did it, knowing the truth. “Knowing the truth” is not needed; it is nonessential and gets surrounded by punctuation.
COMMAS/PUNCTUATION PT. 1 IMPORTANT CONCEPT #2 • OTHER NONESSENTIALS: EXAMPLES Katrina, who was the homecoming queen, did not go to the prom. I like to eat at my grandmother’s house, which is why I go there all the time. Micky, the boy in the back, is getting an ‘A’ in this class. Okay, I will go out with you. Personally, I am very nervous about taking this test. Jennifer, however, is not very nervous.
HOW DO I KNOW IF IT IS NONESSENTIAL? That’s easy! Take out the part that is surrounded by punctuation. If the sentence still makes sense AND you can still tell who everyone is or what everything is, then it is for sure a NONESSENTIAL. Let’s go back to the ones we just looked at. We will take out the NONESSENTIAL to make sure the sentence still makes sense
ARE THEY NONESSENTIAL? Katrina, who was the homecoming queen, did not go to the prom. Katrina did not go to the prom. I like to eat at my grandmother’s house, which is why I go there all the time. I like to eat at my grandmother’s house. Micky, the boy in the back, is getting an ‘A’ in this class. Micky is getting an ‘A’ in this class.
ARE THEY NONESSENTIAL? • OTHER NONESSENTIALS: EXAMPLES Okay, I will go out with you. I will go out with you. Personally, I am very nervous about taking this test. I am very nervous about taking this test. Jennifer, however, is not very nervous. Jennifer is not very nervous.
TYPES OF NONESSENTIALS • How do I recognize a nonessential? There are 4 main types. • Interrupter a word or phrase that interrupts the sentence (however, for example, well, yes, no, okay) • WHO, WHICH, WHERE, WHOM a phrase that begins with one of these words might be nonessential • Participial phrases (these are verbs that end in “ING” or are the form that goes with “HAVE” ex. Broken) • The Appositive this is a phrase that begins with A or THE and is extra information about a subject
TYPES OF NONESSENTIALS • How do I recognize a nonessential? EXAMPLES of the 4 main types. • Interrupter Well, you sure are smart. • WHO, WHICH, WHERE, WHOM Lawrence, who forgot to study, did not go to school. • Participial phrases Paulina, upset about the breakup, went to the 7-Eleven for a Slurpee. • The Appositive Love, a strange thing, is in the air. • Take out the nonessential and you still understand what happened. It still makes perfect sense.
PUNCTUATION PLEASE REFER TO YOUR PRACTICE PASSAGES TEST 0556A
Example from Practice Test (56A) #24 Tiny’s Granny however, is very fond of her burqua... F. NO CHANGE G. Granny; however H. Granny, however, J. Granny, however CORRECT ANSWER: H HOWEVER is an interrupter, a nonessential, not needed. Tiny’s Granny is very fond of her burqua… HOWEVER can be dropped and it still makes sense, so it is a nonessential and needs to have commas around it; answer H does that
THE LAST IMPORTANT NONESSENTIAL RULE • NONESSENTIALS get surrounded by punctuation. There are two other pieces of punctuation that can be used with a nonessential. • The DASH. • Stephanie – what a nice girl – will make the honor roll! • Many people ride the train to work – a great option to avoid traffic. • 2. The PARENTHESIS. • The dodo bird (which is now extinct) could not fly.