The ACT English test is designed to address the six areas of effective writing: punctuation, grammar and usage, sentence structure, strategy, organization, and style. The test assesses a student’s ability to use their usage/mechanics skills and rhetorical skills. There are 75 questions in this portion of the test and the student will have 45 minutes to complete them.
The English test will result in an overall area score and two subscores. The two subscores include Usage/Mechanics and Rhetorical Skills. Questions which involve punctuation, grammar, and sentence structure, are used to compute the Usage/Mechanics subscore. Questions involving strategy, organization, and style are used to compute the Rhetorical Skills subscore.
In the Usage/Mechanics skill area, 13% of the questions will focus on punctuation, 16% of the questions will focus on grammar and usage, and 24% of the questions will focus on sentence structure. In the Rhetorical Skills area, 16% of the questions will test strategy, 15% will test organization, and 16% will test style. Descriptions of each area are provided below.
Punctuation-internal and end-of-sentence punctuation; emphasis placed upon the correlation of punctuation to meaning.
Grammar and Usage-subject/verb agreement; pronoun/antecedent agreement; modifier/modified agreement; verb formation; pronoun case; comparative and superlative adjective and adverbs; idiomatic usage.
Sentence Structure-relationships between and among clauses; placement of modifiers; shifts in construction.
Strategy-topic development; analysis of audience; identification of purpose; use of supporting material; judgment of statement relevance.
Organization-organization of ideas; effectiveness of opening, closing, and transitional statements.
Style-word choice; maintaining style and tone; avoidance of redundancy, wordiness, and ambiguous pronoun references; management of rhetorical effectiveness.