ACT English: Editing Sentences and Paragraphs

Being able to edit sentences and paragraphs will be important for the ACT English section. You may be required to correct an error in a sentence. Or you may have to clarify a sentence.

  • It’s all about context.

    It’ll be important to understand the context of the questioned word, phrase or sentence. For this reason, it’s very important to read the entire passage. Just looking at a single sentence—or even the sentences before and after the questioned word, phrase or sentence—is a recipe for getting the wrong answer.

  • Think about clarity.

    Your goal is to pick the most concise, clear sentence. If an answer choice has too many words, it’s likely a wrong answer choice. Your answer choice has to be descriptive, but always reexamine any answer choice that has fewer words.

  • Read every answer choice.

    Reading every answer choice is so important for editing sentence and paragraph questions. Sometimes there will be a few good answers. Your task, however, is to find the BEST answer choice. So make sure you read every answer choice, fighting the urge to choose the first answer choice that seems good.

Editing Sentence Practice Problem

In 2004, a local coffee shop in Montgomery, Alabama, instituted a policy that barred employees from having tattoos. The coffee shop’s new owners felt that tattooed employees created a negative image for the coffee shop and made employees appear undesirable toward customers
and, furthermore, that a more clean-cut appearance would attract better customers. When longtime employee Jeb Liddle refused to wear a turtleneck work shirt to cover up the tribal tattoo on the back of his neck, he was told he could no longer work at the coffee shop.
What change would you make to the underlined word (tattoos)?

  2. tattoos that can be seen by customers.
  3. visible tattoos.
  4. tattoos that might not be able to be covered up.


We know from the last sentence that the owner of the coffee shop is fine with his employees having tattoos. What he’s not fine with is his employees having tattoos that show. For this reason, we know that A, “NO CHANGE,” cannot be the correct choice. B, “tattoos that can be seen by customers,” is a viable choice, but it seems a little “wordy.” Let’s keep it for now and check the other answer choices. The next choice, “visible tattoos,” is a much better way to express the same idea in choice B. As a result, we should keep C and eliminate choice B. Although C seems like a perfect answer, we must eliminate the last answer choice. When we look at D, “tattoos that might not be able to be covered up,” we see that answer choice is also “wordy.” Now we know choice C is the correct answer.