ACT - English, Reading, Writing

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The English and reading sections of the ACT are designed to assess a student’s knowledge of several facets pertinent to the English language. Both sections of this test are mandatory for the general ACT and each section is timed. The English section is comprised of 75 questions intended to assess a student’s written English skills as well as rhetorical skills. There are 45 minutes allowed for this section of the test. The reading section is designed to assess a student’s comprehension of written passages and literary narratives. This section contains 40 questions and has a time allotment of 35 minutes.

The English section of the test is comprised of five separate passages. Each passage is followed by a set of questions in multiple-choice format. Currently, the following subcategories are assessed in the English section:

  • Topic development in terms of purpose and focus
  • Organization, unity, and cohesion
  • Knowledge of language
  • Sentence structure and formation
  • Using conventions
  • Punctuation conventions

The reading section is comprised of four sections. Each section contains a written passage that is followed by a set of multiple-choice questions. The following subcategories are currently assessed in the reading section:

  • Close reading
  • Relationships
  • Word meanings and word choice
  • Text structure
  • Purpose and point of view

The writing section of the ACT is an optional section which may be administered as an additional component to the general ACT. This section is presented as an essay test. It begins with the description of an issue and then gives the student three perspectives on the issue. The student is prompted to write an essay which analyzes each of the perspectives, develops a new perspective, and describes the relationship between the student’s perspective and those provided on the test. There are no wrong answers; rather, the information provided by the student is used by schools to assess a student’s writing ability when presented with various topics pertaining to college and career success.

Several enhancements have been made to the ACT. Many questions were included to align the test more closely with Common Core Standards used by the majority of public and private high schools in the nation. Further information on these may be found on the official website, ACTstudent.org. You may also visit the official site to find helpful study tips, exam day preparation, sample exam questions, and answers to other frequently asked questions.

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