ACT English Questions, Reporting Categories, and Content

ACT English 101

You don't have to be Shakespeare to score well on ACT English
Getty Images | Richard Cummins

ACT English Intro

Shakespeare, you’re not (even if you do look good in those Elizabethan tights). That does not mean you can’t score well on the ACT English test. Trust me on this. Most of what you will encounter on the ACT English section of the exam is stuff you have done a million times in school. Sure, the format is different - you can get really tripped up on the paragraph spacing if you are not careful - but the content should be fairly easy for those of you who didn't fail out of all of your English and Language Arts classes.

Read below for all of the ACT English Basics. And when you’re done getting the lay of the land, read through the ACT English strategies to help yourself before you test!

ACT English Basics

If you’ve read ACT 101, you know the following goodies about the ACT English section:

  • 5 passages of text
  • 75 multiple-choice questions (fifteen per passage)
  • 45 minutes
  • Approximately 30 seconds per question

ACT English Scoring

Just like the other multiple choice sections, the ACT English section can earn you between 1 and 36 points. This score will be averaged with the scores from the other multiple-choice sections (Math, Science Reasoning and Reading) to get you your Composite ACT score.

You'll also get your raw scores based on reporting categories that were introduced in 2016. Here, you'll see how many questions you answered correctly in the Production of Writing, Knowledge of Language, and Conventions of Standard English.

They do not in any way affect your section or composite ACT score. Rather, they give you an indication of where you can improve if you should take the again.

The English score is also tabulated with the Reading and Writing section scores to give you an ELA (English Language Arts) score. Like the 

The average ACT English score is about a 21, but you’ll have to do much better than that if you’d like to hit up a top university for admissions acceptance – more like between a 30 and 34.

ACT English Test Content

As I stated previously, you'll have three reporting categories scattered throughout the ACT exam. You will not see "Production of Writing," "Knowledge of Language," or "Conventions of Standard English" sections - that would be too easy! Rather, you'll encounter these types of questions as you work through all five passages.

Production of Writing (approximately 22 - 24 questions)

  1. Topic Development: 
    1. Identify the author's purpose
    2. Identify whether a portion of text has met its goal
    3. Evaluate material's relevance in terms of the text's focus
  2. Organization, Unity and Cohesion:
    1. Use strategies to create logical organization
    2. Use strategies to ensure a smooth flow
    3. Ensure effective introductions and conclusions

Knowledge of Language (approximately 10 - 14 questions)

  1. Ensuring concision and precision in word choice
  2. Maintain consistent style
  3. Maintain consistent tone

Conventions of Standard English (approximately 38 - 42 questions)

  1. Sentence Structure and Formation: 
    1.  Identify misplaced modifiers (adjectives, adverbs, etc.)
    2. Fix run-ons, fragments and comma splice sentences
    3. Resolve problems with improper clause usage
    4. Correct parallel structure
  2. Punctuation
    1. Resolve improper usage of commas, apostrophes, colons, semicolons, quotation marks, etc.
    2. Improve the text with various punctuation
  1. Usage
    1. Recognize common problems with standard English usage.
    2. Revise common problems to improve the writing. 

 

ACT English Test Practice

There it is – the ACT English section in brief. Think you can pass this bad boy? If not, then you have some major preparation in front of you. The English section is not easy by any stretch. Sure, it's stuff you've learned in high school, but it is also incredibly challenging if you haven't really had very much grammar or punctuation practice in a while. If you want to get ready, try starting with the best ways to study for the ACT. Then, move on to the ACT English practice questions. Once you've mastered that, you can read through these ACT English Strategies so you are doubly prepared!

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Your Citation
Roell, Kelly. "ACT English Questions, Reporting Categories, and Content." ThoughtCo, Aug. 8, 2016, thoughtco.com/act-english-questions-and-content-3211570. Roell, Kelly. (2016, August 8). ACT English Questions, Reporting Categories, and Content. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/act-english-questions-and-content-3211570 Roell, Kelly. "ACT English Questions, Reporting Categories, and Content." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/act-english-questions-and-content-3211570 (accessed November 24, 2017).