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ACT PREP ENGLISH. How to Increase Your Score: Time Management and Test-taking Strategies. Overview of the ACT. The ACT is about three hours long (3.5 with the Writing test). There will be a short break between the Math and Reading subtests.

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  1. ACT PREP ENGLISH How to Increase Your Score: Time Management and Test-taking Strategies

  2. Overview of the ACT • The ACT is about three hours long (3.5 with the Writing test). • There will be a short break between the Math and Reading subtests. • The ACT consists of a total of 215 multiple-choice questions and one optional essay. • The ACT Writing test score is not factored into your ACT English or Composite scores. • The ACT exam is comprised of four subject tests: • English (45 minutes, 75 questions) • Math (60 minutes, 60 questions) • Reading (35 minutes, 40 questions) • Science (35 minutes, 40 questions)

  3. ACT Scoring • The ACT scaled (or Composite) score is what is reported to colleges. • The scaled (or Composite) score is NOT determined by how many questions are answered correctly or even the percentage of questions answered correctly. • All correct answers are added up to determine a RAW SCORE. • Wrong answers or blank answers are not subtracted from your score. • The raw score is converted to a SCALED SCORE or COMPOSITE SCORE from 1 to 36. The scaled score correlates with your percentile ranking with all test takers. • You may retake the ACT several times and select your best overall composite score to be sent to colleges, but you may not select which of the four tests among various attempts to use for your final composite score.

  4. ACT Scoring Facts • Nearly half of all test takers have a composite score of 17-23. • To earn a score of 20—the national average—you need to answer only about 55% of the questions correctly. Answering slightly over half of the answers correctly puts you in the middle range of test takers. • Two very strong scores are 26 and 31. Either score would impress almost any college admissions officer. A 26 places you above 82% of all test takers; a 31 puts you within the top 10%. • A score below 17 will seriously limit your choice of colleges. Any score above 23 will be an asset for admission.

  5. SET YOUR ENGLISH ACT GOAL Score Ranking Percent Correct on English ACT 34top 2%71 correct on ACT 31 top 10% 67 correct on ACT 26 top 18% 60-61 correct on ACT 23 top 30% 53-55 correct on ACT 20 national average 45-47 correct on ACT See P. 60 in the 2017-18 ACT practice booklet.

  6. SEVEN BASIC RULES FOR TAKING THE ACT These seven rules apply to every section of the ACT. They really are just commonsense guidelines, but it’s amazing how the pressure and time constraints of the ACT can warp and mangle common sense. Remembering and practicing these seven basic rules will help you save time and cut down on careless errors.

  7. 1. Know the instructions for each subject test Guess what? The subject test instructions are always the same—learn them ahead of time and save time. Since you’ll need all the time you can get, don’t waste time reading the Subject Test instructions during the actual test. Learn the instructions beforehand by taking practice tests and reading our chapters on the Subject Tests.

  8. 2. Use Your Test Booklet as Scratch Paper A pristine test booklet is a sad test booklet. • Use the margins to make notes of key points. • Make marks beside questions you skip and need to return to. • Underline key words, names, dates, and facts. • Note your “figuring,” draw diagrams, jot down solutions in the math and science subject tests. • In the reading subject test, use your test booklet for the “skim and scribble” strategy—note as you go.

  9. 3. Answer Easy Questions before Hard Questions • This is a crucial strategy for the ACT. All questions within a Subject Test are worth the same number of points, there’s no point slaving away over a difficult question if doing so requires several minutes. • Answer the easy and moderate questions first. That way you’ll make sure that you get to see all the questions on the test that you have a good shot of getting right, while saving the leftover time for returning to the difficult questions. • Use a NOW, LATER, and NEVER (GUESS) strategy as you proceed through the questions.

  10. 4. Don’t Get Bogged Down by a Hard Question • If you’ve spent a significant amount of time on a problem and haven’t gotten close to answering it, just let it go. (In ACT world, a minute and a half is a lot of time. On the English subtest, 75 questions in 45 minutes works out to about 30 seconds per question.) • Finish answering the easy and moderate questions about the passage and then return to the more difficult questions. • If you need to guess, choose B or C as your “guessing letter” and use that throughout the test (experts say your chances are higher than randomly guessing). In the English test, generally choose the shortest answer or “NO CHANGE,” as 25% of the underlined words or phrases are fine as they are.

  11. 5. Avoid Carelessness • Don’t move too quickly through the questions, though. Speeding through the test can result in misinterpreting a question or missing a crucial piece of information. • Don’t be tempted by “partial answers” among the answer choices. (Yeah, test makers do this deliberately.) Everything given in the answer must be correct. • Identify what skill or knowledge the question is testing you on in order to avoid distracting or tempting answers. Use the passage and the answers to help you determine this. • Don’t allow yourself to assume a defeatist attitude toward questions that appear to be complex. Jump in; you may find the question is easier than it appears.

  12. 6. Be Careful Bubbling In Your Answers • Imagine this: you get all the right answers to the ACT questions, but you fill in all the wrong bubbles. The scoring computer doesn’t care that you did the right work; all it cares about are the blackened bubbles on the answer sheet, and the wrong answers that they indicate. • Protect yourself against this terrifying possibility with careful bubbling. An easy way to prevent slips on the ACT answer sheet is to pay attention to the letters being bubbled. Odd-numbered answers are lettered A, B, C, D (except on the Math Test, where they are A, B, C, D, E), and even-numbered answers are lettered F, G, H, J (except on the Math Test, where they are F, G, H, J, K). • You may also want to try bubbling in groups (five at a time or a page at a time) rather than answering one by one. Circle the answers in the test booklet as you go through the page, and then transfer the answers over to the answer sheet as a group. This method should increase your speed and accuracy in filling out the answer sheet. To further increase your accuracy, say the question number and the answer in your head as you fill out the grid: “Number 24, F. Number 25, C. Number 26, J.”

  13. 7. Always Guess When You Don’t Know the Answer • Don’t leave any blanks on your score sheet. The scoring computer will not know or care whether or not you “really” knew the answer. • Before guessing, eliminate one or two answers you know are wrong. This improves your odds from 25% to 50%. • With a 50-50 chance at a right answer, about half of your guesses on the test will be correct, and your score will be about a 19, which is about an average score on the ACT. • Use POE (process of elimination) to help isolate the correct answer. Using POE before guessing an answer will help you get to that 50-50 chance at a right answer.

  14. Multiple Choice: You Already Have the Answers • When you look at any ACT multiple-choice question, the answer is already right there in front of you. Your job on each question is to find the right answer. Because the answer is right there, you have three methods you can use to try to determine the correct answer: • Think of the right answer before looking at answer choices. • Look through the answer choices and pick out the one that is correct. • Look at the answer choices and eliminate wrong answers until there’s only one answer left (POE). • If you have time, check your answers, but don’t over-question your answers or over-doubt yourself.

  15. What the English ACT Tests • KNOWLEDGE OF LANGUAGE (13-19%) Demonstrate knowledge of effective language use, such as precise and concise word choice and maintaining consistency in style and tone. • PRODUCTION OF WRITING (29-32%) Topic Development Identify the purposes of parts of texts, the effectiveness of parts of texts, and evaluate the relevance of text, in terms of its overall focus and purpose. Organization, Unity, and Cohesion Identify and choose various strategies that ensure a text is logically organized, flows smoothly, and has an effective introduction and conclusion. effective introduction and conclusion. • CONVENTIONS OF STANDARD ENGLISH (51-56%) Sentence Structure and Formation (syntax; avoiding run-ons and fragments; parallel) Punctuation Usage (word usage; pronoun use; subject-verb agreement)

  16. English ACT Testing Tips • Questions are not arranged in any particular order—not by difficulty or type of skill. So use your “NOW, LATER, or NEVER (guess)” strategy to pile up easy points. • Always read the answer options in context of the passage, pretending you are saying them out loud in order to “hear” what it sounds like. Often, the right choice will become clear to you when doing this. • There is blind guessing and strategic guessing: Try to use POE to be able to guess strategically and increase your odds (from 25% to 50%) of guessing correctly.

  17. English ACT Testing Tips • When in doubt, take it out. Watch for the most concisely worded answer choice as the correct one. If you think something doesn’t belong or isn’t needed in a passage, it probably isn’t needed, so choose an answer that leaves it out. Watch for phrases such as “It goes without saying” or “Obviously”—If it goes without saying, then don’t say it. If it is obvious, then it isn’t necessary to say it. Choose answers that avoid anything redundant, not relevant, or wordy. • Make it make sense. Make sure that the answer you choose creates a sentence or paragraph that is logical. Think about connection words and whether they create a logical connection between ideas. Correct answers must be not only grammatically but logically correct. • Trust your eyes and EARS. Mistakes in grammar often sound bad to your ear. Mouth phrases in order to “hear” them in your mind. Don’t choose an answer that sounds “fancy”; choose the one that “sounds right.”

  18. English ACT Testing Tips • Ignore irrelevant issues. It’s easy to waste time by considering possible problems that are side issues and not what the ACT question is testing you on. Example: . . . China was certainly one of the cradles 14. F. NO CHANGE of civilization. It’s obvious that, China has G. It’s obvious that China a long history. As is the case with other has a long history. Ancient cultures, the early history of H. Obviously, China has China is lost in mythology. . . . History J. OMIT the underlined portion. What is the correct answer?

  19. English ACT Testing Tips • The answer is not G. That is the distraction option the ACT writers often include in their questions. Yes, the answer in G. corrects the misuse of the comma (It’s obvious that, China), but there’s a bigger issue here—namely, does the sentence belong in the passage at all? • If China has an ancient culture and was the cradle of civilization, it therefore has a long history, so the sentence is obvious and not necessary. • Redundancy (a “rhetorical” question) is the relevant issue to this test question, not punctuation. The sentence doesn’t even belong in the passage. Choice J (OMIT the underlined portion) is the correct answer.

  20. English ACT Testing Tips • Some ACT English questions—about 20 of the 75—don’t follow the typical format of presenting you with an underlined portion and three possible revisions of it. • A nonstandard question is typically a rhetorical question and tests your skills of organization, style, and author’s purpose. These questions will ask you to determine the LEAST acceptable alternative for an underlined or noted passage. Or it might ask you which of the offered choices BEST accomplishes a specific goal—or all EXCEPT one of the alternatives. • These nonstandard questions usually require more time, as more thinking, careful reading, and weighing of options are required. They generally appear at the end of a set of 15 questions, but if encountered earlier, you might want to circle these as LATER questions and move on.

  21. The Reading ACT Test • The Reading section assesses your skills in taking meaning from text, both explicitly state meaning or implied meaning. • You will be presented with four reading passages, each followed by 10 questions to answer. You will have 35 minutes, or about 9 minutes per section of the Reading Test. • Allow yourself about 4 minutes to preview and skim the reading passage and then 30 seconds for each question. • The test requires that you use textual reference and reasoning skills to determine main ideas; find and interpret supporting details; understand sequence of ideas, cause and effect, and context clues; make comparisons and logical conclusions; and analyze an author’s or narrator’s voice and style. • The reporting categories of knowledge and skills are Key Ideas and Details, Craft and Structure, and Knowledge and Ideas.

  22. The Reading ACT Testing Tips • The four passages will be one of each: Prose Fiction (story); Social Science; Humanities (literature, arts, music); and Natural Science. You may want to begin the test with the genre you prefer (ALWAYS complete what is easiest first—on all sections of the test.) • Preview the questions to get a sense of what you will be asked: This focuses your attention while you are reading the passage. • Then, read the passage, marking the text as you go: mark MAIN IDEAS, SUMMARIZE details in one short phrase in the margin beside each paragraph as you read. Circle/underline key facts as you read. (E.g., “ant fastest bite”) • After reading the passage—not skimming, but not close reading, either, return to the questions and begin answering the ones you remember or can find quickly (30-second rule) in margin notes and circled/underlined text. • After eliminating the easily answered questions, go back through and answer remaining questions. • Bubble your answers to the passage after finishing its questions. Then, repeat the process on each remaining passage.

  23. The ACT Writing Assessment 40 minutes: Persuasive writing (score is not added into the composite score) Essay Criteria Thesis/Main idea Express judgment by taking and stating a position. Unity Maintain a focus on the topic throughout the essay. Development Develop a position with logical reasoning and supporting explanations Coherence Organize ideas in a clear and logical way. Language Use language clearly and effectively according to the rules of standard written English. ScoreCriteria 6 Essay demonstrates effective skill 5 Essay demonstrates competent skill 4 Essay demonstrates adequate skill 3 Essay demonstrates some developing skill 2 Essay demonstrates inconsistent or weak skill 1 Essay shows little or no skill

  24. The ACT Writing Assessment You will be given a topic of conflict or controversy and Perspective One, Perspective Two, and Perspective Three on the issue. You will be asked to write a Unified, Coherent essay that does the following: • Clearly states your own perspective (opinion) on the issue. • Analyzes how your position relates to at least one other of the given perspectives (agrees or disagrees, how, and why). • Develops and supports your perspective with reasoning and examples. • Organizes your ideas clearly (uses transitional words and phrases) and logically (a logical sequence of ideas). SAVE THE LAST 5 MINUTES TO PROOFREAD “ALOUD” AND REVISE!

  25. The Day of the Test • You must bring the following items to the test center on the day of the test: • Your admission ticket • Photo ID or a letter of identification • Unless a test proctor recognizes you, you will not be allowed in the test room without appropriate identification. We also suggest that you bring the following: • Number Two pencils • A calculator. You should bring the calculator you normally use (preferably with an extra battery). You don’t want to get stuck searching frantically for the right buttons on an unfamiliar calculator. • A watch. Your test room may not have a clock, or the clock may not be visible from where you’re sitting. Since the test proctors only call out the time five minutes before the end of each section, you have to rely on yourself to know how much time remains. • A snack, to keep up that energy. • Lucky clothes. Why not?

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