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Breaking Down the English Test


We will discuss the breakdown - how many questions, time to take the test, and the types of questions that will be asked on the ACT

The English Test lasts 45 minutes and contains 75 questions.  There are 5 passages with 15 questions each. This test measures how effectively the student uses grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and language skills to communicate in written English.  In simpler words, it evaluates how well the student can express themselves using proper English writing.

The English section of the test is comprised of 3 types of questions:

Production of Writing (29-32%) These questions assess your ability to create a well-organized and focused piece of writing. They focus on developing the topic, organizing your thoughts, and making sure your writing flows smoothly.

Knowledge of Language (15-17%) These questions test your skill in using language effectively. You need to choose words that are precise and concise and maintain a consistent style and tone throughout your writing.

Conventions of Standard English (52-55%) These questions evaluate your understanding of the rules and guidelines of standard English grammar, usage, and mechanics. They focus on things like sentence structure, punctuation, and proper word usage.

Production of Writing  (29-32%) questions focus on how well you develop and organize your writing.  They want to see if your ideas flow together and make sense.  Here’s what you’ll be asked to do:

Figuring out what's important: You'll need to decide if certain information is relevant to the main topic or focus of what you're writing.

Understanding why things are said: You’ll be asked to recognize why certain words or phrases are used, like explaining what a word means, pointing out who someone is, or describing something.

Using words effectively: You’ll need to know how to choose the right words or sentences to express a particular meaning or feeling.

In simpler terms, they want to see if you can organize your writing well, understand why certain words are used, and choose the right words to express what you mean.

Organization, unity, and cohesion questions assess how well a text is structured, flows smoothly, and has a strong beginning and ending.  Here are the skills tested in simpler terms:

Using transition words: You’ll need to decide where to use words or phrases that show the relationship between ideas, like indicating time or logical connections.

Placing sentences logically: You’ll be asked to determine the best position for a sentence within a paragraph to make it fit and flow well.

Writing introductions and conclusions: You’ll need to provide an appropriate opening or closing sentence for a paragraph or passage.

Rearranging sentences: You’ll be asked to reorganize sentences within a paragraph or paragraphs to make the writing flow logically.

Dividing paragraphs effectively: You’ll need to figure out the best place to split a paragraph or achieve a specific goal in the writing.

In general, these questions check if your writing is well-structured, if ideas flow smoothly from one to another, and if your paragraphs have strong beginnings and endings.  You’ll need to use words that connect ideas, place sentences in the right order, write suitable introductions and conclusions, rearrange sentences if needed, and determine where to split paragraphs or achieve specific goals.

Knowledge of Language (15-17%) questions assess how well you use language by choosing precise and concise words and maintaining a consistent style and tone.  In simpler terms, they want to see if you can clearly and briefly express yourself in written English, but not in casual conversation style.  Here are the skills tested:

Fixing mistakes: You’ll need to correct writing that is incorrect, confusing, or unclear.

Removing unnecessary words: You’ll be asked to delete text that is redundant or wordy, meaning it has extra or unnecessary words.

Adjusting expressions You’ll need to revise a phrase or sentence to make it match the overall style and tone of the passage.

Using conjunctions: You’ll be tested on whether you can determine when to use words that connect clauses and create logical relationships between them.

Choosing the right words: You’ll need to pick the most suitable word or phrase that fits the content and context of the sentence.

In other words, these questions check your ability to fix mistakes, get rid of extra words, adjust your writing style to match the style and tone, use words that connect ideas, and choose the right words for each sentence.

Conventions of Standard English (52-55%) questions test your ability to apply the rules of standard English grammar, usage, and mechanics to edit and revise text.  The main focus of these questions is on sentence structure and formation, punctuation, and language usage.  Here is a breakdown of the skills tested:

Using punctuation correctly: You’ll need to determine when to use punctuation marks like commas, colons, semicolons, periods, dashes, and parentheses in the right places.

Joining sentences and clauses: You’ll be asked to decide when to use subordinating and coordinating conjunctions to connect clauses or revise sentences.

Using verb tense properly: You’ll need to demonstrate your ability to use the correct verb tense in the context of a passage.

Recognizing and fixing sentence structure issues: This includes identifying and correcting problems like misplaced adjectives, incomplete phrases, missing or wrong relative pronouns, unclear modifiers, sentences that run on without proper breaks, and weak connections between independent clauses.

Maintaining consistency in verb tense, voice, and pronouns: You’ll be tested on your ability to keep the same verb tense and voice consistently throughout a paragraph or passage, as well as use appropriate personal pronouns.

In summary, these questions check your ability to use punctuation correctly, join sentences together properly, use the right verb tense, fix issues with sentence structure, and maintain consistency in verb tense, voice, and pronouns.

Go back and review where you started as a baseline on the English practice test that you took at the beginning of this course. Write down your starting point in your journal.