Content Covered by the ACT English Test

Six elements of effective writing are included in the English Test: punctuation, grammar and usage, sentence structure, strategy, organization, and style. The questions covering punctuation, grammar, and sentence structure make up the Usage/Mechanics subscore. The questions covering strategy, organization, and style make up the Rhetorical Skills subscore.

Usage/Mechanics

  • Punctuation (10-15%). Questions in this category test your knowledge of the conventions of internal and end-of-sentence punctuation, with emphasis on the relationship of punctuation to meaning (for example, avoiding ambiguity, indicating appositives).
  • Grammar and Usage (15-20%). Questions in this category test your understanding of agreement between subject and verb, between pronoun and antecedent, and between modifiers and the word modified; verb formation; pronoun case; formation of comparative and superlative adjectives and adverbs; and idiomatic usage.
  • Sentence Structure (20-25%). Questions in this category test your understanding of relationships between and among clauses, placement of modifiers, and shifts in construction.

Rhetorical Skills

  • Strategy (15-20%). Questions in this category test how well you develop a given topic by choosing expressions appropriate to an essay's audience and purpose; judging the effect of adding, revising, or deleting supporting material; and judging the relevance of statements in context.
  • Organization (10-15%). Questions in this category test how well you organize ideas and choose effective opening, transitional, and closing sentences.
  • Style (15-20%). Questions in this category test how well you select precise and appropriate words and images, maintain the level of style and tone in an essay, manage sentence elements for rhetorical effectiveness, and avoid ambiguous pronoun references, wordiness, and redundancy.

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