At Testing Timers, we’ve talked to thousands of students, and the ACT section that seems to be the most universally frustrating is the English section. Students might read every day in school, but choosing between a semicolon and a comma is not typically a part of anyone’s daily routine, so even the most advanced readers can easily get tripped up by the ACT’s grammar section.
While you will ultimately have to learn the difference between a semicolon and a comma if you want a perfect score (a semicolon only connects two independent clauses), there is one trick you should do first that is guaranteed to raise your English score at least a few points.
READ BETWEEN THE LINES.
Almost everyone approaches the English section as separate underlined portions instead of one complete passage. You’ll go straight to the underlined part of the sentence, try and find the best answer for that underlined part, then skip ahead to the next underlined part, no matter how much text or how many sentences are between the two. Inevitably, you’ll have to backtrack a bit to get your bearings, which takes more time, then you’ll use this incomplete information to try and pick the right answer. You’re bound to make mistakes this way, plus you’ll never have all the information once you get to the comprehension type questions.
This advice might seem overly straight-forward, but you have to read the whole passage. The grammar questions are not trying to trick you, so by reading the text in between the questions, you’re naturally picking up on essential clues like tone and verb tense. By the time you get to an underlined portion, there’s a good chance you’ll instinctively know the answer even before reading the options.
Trust these instincts! Like we said, the ACT isn’t trying to trick you with grammar, so READ BETWEEN THE LINES, trust your instincts, and you’re bound to jump a few points.