A Better ACT English Score in 10 Minutes

If you’re looking to boost your ACT English score, there are lots of small things you can do to make a difference quickly. Try out the following suggestions:

  • Know the Test Structure

    The ACT English Test is always the first one you’ll encounter on test day. You have 45 minutes to complete 75 multiple-choice questions. The questions are spread among five essays that include 15 questions each. You do not want to skip over any of the sentences, even if they do not contain underlined words or phrases since many of the organization and writing strategy questions require you to understand the essay as a whole.

  • Follow the recommended ACT English method

    1. Read until you have enough info to identify the issue.
    2. Eliminate answer choices that do NOT address the issue.
    3. Plug in the remaining answer choices and choose the answer that is the most correct, concise, and relevant.
  • Know these 8 ACT English concepts

    1. Sentence Sense – run-ons/fragments, parallel structure (comparisons, items in a list), modifiers (adjectives/adverbs, modifying phrases).
    2. Punctuation – commas, semi-colons, colons, dashes, apostrophes.
    3. Transitions – words and phrases that link sentences, paragraphs, or clauses.
    4. Wordiness – the ACT prefers concise wording.
    5. Verb Tenses – must be grammatically and logically correct.
    6. Word Choice – correct word in context, subject-verb agreement, pronoun agreement, idioms.
    7. Writing Strategy – tone, consistency, adding/deleting info, purpose of a passage/paragraph/detail.
    8. Organization – organization of individual paragraphs, sentences or the passage as a whole.
  • Know your commas!

    One way to instantly increase your ACT English score is to watch out for incorrect comma usage. In order for a comma to be correct, it MUST have a specific job.

    • Introductory phrases: ”A great first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt was admired by many people.” (Sometimes intro phrases are placed at the end of a sentence: “Many people admired Eleanor Roosevelt, a great first lady.”)
    • Separate an independent clause and a dependent clause (keep in mind a comma always comes before the word “which”): “I like swimming, which is a highly recommended form of exercise.”
    • In front of a FANBOYS: “The ACT can seem intimidating, but knowing how to use commas can relieve quite a bit of stress.”
    • Set off non-essential information: “My sister, who is twenty-five, attended Northeastern University and then the University of Miami.”
    • Items in a series: “My foster dogs enjoy running, jumping, and playing when I take them to the dog park.”
  • Know your overall ACT English strategy


    1. Circle the questions you are unsure of and come back to them – don’t spend too much time on any one question.
    2. Circle the words: “NOT” / “LEAST acceptable” in question stems. Your thought process will be different for these!
    3. Read the entire passage; do not skip around to just the sentences that have underlines.
    4. Keep track of timing in thirds; you should complete 25 questions in 15 minute intervals.
    5. “OMIT the underlined portion” is correct the majority of the time. You do not want to “OMIT the underlined portion” when the information presented in the underlined portion is not available anywhere else in the passage and it is relevant to the passage.