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Cracking the English Test


Cracking the English Test Details 75 questions to answer in 45 minutes 5 passages, which are presented differently from the Reading Test. Tests grammar, punctuation ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Cracking the English Test

Cracking the English Test
  • 75 questions to answer in 45 minutes
  • 5 passages, which are presented differently from
    the Reading Test.
  • Tests grammar, punctuation, sentence structure,
    rhetorical skills

Details Questions
  • Punctuation (13 9 or 10 questions
    misleading stat)
  • Grammar and usage (16 - 12 questions)
  • Sentence structure (24 - 18 questions)
  • Rhetorical strategy (16 - 12 questions)
  • Rhetorical organization (15 - 11 or 12
  • Rhetorical style (16 - 12 questions)

General Hints
  • Answer the questions in order (different strategy
    from Reading Test)
  • Leave the tougher rhetorical questions for the
    end. Skip troublesome questions until the end. A
    later question may help you with an earlier one.
  • Use POE (Process of Elimination) to search the
    answer choices for clues to determine the
    error(s) being tested.

General Hints, contd
  • HINT Dont assume that something is wrong if
    its underlined. NO CHANGE is correct a little
    less than 25 of the time. If you cant find
    anything wrong with the underlined portion, it
    may be correct as written.

Sentence StructureTests your knowledge of how
sentences are put together correctly.
  • Fragment e.g. Walking to the store. (Most of
    these are just dependent clauses.)
  • Run-on Two sentences fused together without
    punctuation (Need either a period, semi-colon, or
    comma conjunction.) e.g. Aunt Sally swept up
    the shards of glass she was furious. How to fix?
  • Comma Splice Two sentences joined by a comma.
    e.g. Aunt Sally swept up the shards of glass, she
    was furious. How to fix?
  • HINT Sentence structure questions can be spotted
    by looking at the variations in the answer

Sentence Structure Modifier Problems
  • Misplaced Modifiers Word, phrase, or clause
    that seems to modify the wrong word or phrase.
    e.g. Walking to the pawnshop, Bobs watch dropped
    into the sewer. How to fix?
  • Construction Shifts Similar to above with
    awkward placement of modifier. e.g. Stepping to
    avoid the puddle, I carefully tripped and fell.
    How to fix?

Sentence Structure Parallelism
  • Non-parallel construction (aka Parallelism)
  • 1) Look for a series of words, phrases, or
    clauses. 2) Look for changes in verb tense.
  • Verbs e.g. Annie kissed him, hugged him, and
    gives him his favorite dinner. How to ix?
  • Nouns e.g. 1) Fans praised the quarterbacks
    speed, skill, and how agile he was. 2) Seeing the
    beauty of a sunset in Venice is to experience
    perfection. How to fix these?

Grammar and Usage
  • If a pronoun is underlined, check for
    noun-pronoun agreement (everybody with he/she),
    pronoun-verb agreement (neitheris), and pronoun
    case (subject or object).
  • If a verb is underlined, check for subject-verb
    agreement (neitheris), verb tense errors (past,
    present, future, etc mixed in a paragraph), and
    verb parallelism (past mixed with present in a

Grammar and Usage Pronoun Agreement
  • Pronoun Agreement A pronoun must agree with its
    antecedent (the noun or pronoun it renames).
    Pronoun/Pronoun Agreement e.g. 1) Neither of the
    two young girls expressed their feelings. 2)
    Anyone going on the field trip needs to bring
    their lunch. 3) Everybody stayed late at the
    dance because they were enjoying themselves. How
    to fix these?
  • HINTS 1) If you see a pronoun underlined, check
    to see if it agrees with the noun to which it
    refers. 2) Words such as each, either, somebody,
    anyone, everyone, either, neither are singular.

Grammar and Usage Pronoun Case
  • Pronoun Case Decide whether the pronoun is used
    as a subject or object, e.g. 1) The students,
    whom had been studying the space program, were
    thrilled to witness the lunar landing. 2) Before
    the moon landing, the TV announcer gave some
    additional background on the astronauts, about
    who we were all quite interested. How to fix?
  • HINTS 1) Remember the he/who, him/whom rule. 2)
    Also note differences in punctuation in all
    questions in case you see two answers with the
    same pronouns.

Grammar and UsageSubject-Verb Agreement /
Pronoun-Verb Agreement
  • Subject-Verb Agreement Singular subject
    singular verb and plural subject plural verb.
    e.g. Emily Dickensons structure and verse has
    been analyzed and praised by many critics. How to
  • Pronoun-Verb Agreement Same as above with S S
    and Pl Pl. e.g. 1) Neither of my parents have
    trouble using the metric system. 2) Everyone
    visiting Bob and Lynn notice how well their
    children behave. 3) Each of these moments have
    played in my mind again and again. How to fix?

Grammar and UsageVerb Tense Agreement / Verb
Tense Construction
  • Verb Tense Agreement Past, present, future,
    etc., e.g. Sam was walking down the street when
    he finds a large suitcase. How to fix?
  • Verb Tense Construction The verbs need to work
    with each other, e.g. Sam has ate all the cookies
    in the cookie jar. How to fix?

Grammar and UsageAdjectives and Adverbs
  • Adjectives and Adverbs Be careful to use the
    correct type of modifier for what is being
    modified. e.g. 1) Sid behaves more polite than
    Tom. 2) Between Jenny and Jane, Jenny is the
    tallest. 3) He behaves intelligent. How to fix?

Grammar and Usage - Idioms
  • Idioms are expressions that require the use of a
    specific preposition. e.g. My sculpture is based
    after Rodins Thinker. How to fix?
  • If you know the correct idiom, great. If not,
    just guess.
  • Check answer choices.

  • More than half of the punctuation questions
    concern commas.
  • Punctuation errors are often found along with
    grammatical errors. Notice differences in answer
  • Other punctuation marks to consider on the test
    include semi-colons, colons, dashes, and
    apostrophes. ACT has avoided quotation marks in
    the past, butwho knows.

Punctuation Clauses and Phrases
  • Commas Separating Clauses and Phrases
  • Two Independent Clauses Mary wondered why there
    was a bird in the classroom and she decided to
    ask the teacher about it. How to fix?
  • Independent Clause and Dependent Clause e.g.
    Before Mary could reach the teacher she saw the
    woman offer the bird part of the bagel. How to
  • Independent Clause and Phrase e.g. Hungry and
    excited the bird snapped up the bagel.
  • HINT If some of the answer choices insert a
    comma and others dont, that is reason enough to
    check whether the sentence has two clauses or a
    clause and a phrase.

Punctuation Serial Commas
  • Serial commas Used to separate words, phrases,
    or clauses in a series - e.g. When Mary walked
    into the classroom, she saw a teacher, a doctor,
    a woman eating a bagel and a bird. How to fix?
  • (HINT ACT likes the last comma, even though some
    folks say its not needed.)

PunctuationComma Splice or Run-on
  • Comma splice Two sentences combined, or
    spliced, with a comma, e.g. Lightning speeds to
    our eyes at 186,000miles per second, thunder
    creeps to our ears at 1,087 feet per second. How
    to fix?
  • Run-On Two sentences fused with no punctuation,
    e.g. Lightning speeds to our eyes at 186,000miles
    per second thunder creeps to our ears at 1,087
    feet per second. How to fix?

Punctuation Essential Clause
  • Essential Clause or Phrase (aka Restrictive)
    Correct e.g. People who snore are advised to
    sleep on their sides. (Who snore is essential
    for us to know who is being discussed so NO
  • Another correct e.g. Only a person who is a
    little peculiar would feed a bagel to a bird. (NO
  • HINT Remember I DONT NEED commas when I DO
    NEED the clause.

Punctuation - Non-essential Clause
  • Non-essential (Nonrestrictive) Clause Correct
    e.g. My father, who snores loudly, always sleeps
    in his long johns. (We know specifically who is
    being discussed, and who snores loudly and just
    adds something akin to a parenthetical thought.
  • Another correct e.g. Mary, who by now was very
    confused, stopped in front of the woman. (NEED
  • HINT 1) Remember I NEED commas when I DONT
    NEED the clause. 2) Check answers for
    differences in punctuation.

Punctuation Semi-colons
  • Semicolons connect two related yet independent
    clauses. e.g. Sentence sentence.
  • HINTS 1) Although there are other uses for
    semi-colons, ACT only applies them for run-ons or
    comma splices. They are only used if you have
    independent clauses (sentences) on either side of
    it. 2) If a semi-colon is correct, you will not
    see period or comma with conjunction options. 3)
    If you see both a semi-colon and a period, you
    will know neither answer is correct.

Punctuation - Colons
  • Colons On the ACT, colons typically introduce a
    list that follows an independent clause. e.g.
    Sentence list of some kind.
  • ACT will try to trick you by having an incomplete
    thought to introduce the list e.g. I bought the
    supplies, including pencils, pens, and paper.
    Including turns the independent clause into a
    dependent clause. How to fix?
  • Colons may also separate two independent clauses
    if they follow this format A sentence that is a
    general thought Sentence that explains or
    expands the first thought, Correct e.g. I
    didnt know what to do I could either go camping
    or stay home.

Punctuation - Dashes
  • Dashes indicate a break in thought. Correct e.g.
    I tried to thank him not that words are
    adequate but he just nodded and walked away.
  • Dashes may be used to introduce an explanation.
    Correct e.g. We heard the howling of wolves a
    sound that made our hair stand on end.
  • Dashes usually come in pairs unless the isolated
    group of words is at the end of the sentence.
  • A dash cannot be combined with a comma. However,
    commas do the same thing as dashes, so you wont
    see both as answer choices.

Punctuation - Apostrophes
  • Apostrophes can either indicate possession or
  • Singular Possession e.g. The bosss limo the
    girls room.
  • Plural Possession e.g. The bosses limos the
    girls room. (NOTE Add es to words ending in
    s to make plural, then add apostrophe.)
  • Contractions Its can be used only to replace it
    is or it has. Its is the possessive form of the
    word it. Its is not a word. (NOTE Act will
    have at least one of these on test.)
  • Check answer choices for variations.

Rhetorical Skills
  • Strategy, transitions, organization, style
  • Reorder sentences or paragraphs
  • Reword something
  • Summarize the passage
  • Evaluate whether the writer of a passage has
    satisfied a particular assignment
  • These questions vary more widely than grammar or
    punctuation questions.

Rhetorical Skills, contd
  • The official ACT book suggests you skim the
    entire passage for content, but the Princeton
    Review folks say its a waste of time because
    most of the questions can be answered as you
    read, including some of the rhetorical ones.
  • Answer the questions in order. However, if youre
    having trouble with a particular question or if
    it seems to be taking too much time, circle the
    question number, leave it, and come back on your
    second pass. Often a later question will help you
    with an early one.

Rhetorical Skills, contd
  • Utilize POE to search the answer choices for
    clues. Focus on the differences between the
    answer choices, and use that information to
    determine the error(s) being tested.
  • HINT Look for one error at a time. Eliminate all
    answers that do not correct the first error you
    spotted. Compare the remaining answers and choose
    the most concise answer choice free of any
    additional errors.

Rhetorical Skills, contd
  • Remember that NO CHANGE is correct a little less
    than a quarter of the time. If you cant find
    anything wrong with the underlined portion, it
    may be correct as written.
  • Also remember to look very carefully at any
    question with OMIT as an answer. If you can OMIT
    and the passage/sentence is still correct, then
    do so.

Rhetorical Skills - Strategy
  • Transitions
  • Show contradiction BUT WORDS however, quite
    the contrary, despite, rather, notwithstanding,
    contrarily, on the other hand, although,
  • Show cause and effect THEREFORE WORDS hence,
    and so, thus, consequently, because of, for
    example, finally, in conclusion
  • Show in addition ALSO WORDS in addition,
    for example, furthermore, and, another, first,
    second, moreover, by the same token, besides,
    similarly, so too
  • Choose the most appropriate connector.
  • HINT If you see two of the same type of
    transition, neither answer will be correct.

Rhetorical Skills - Strategy
  • Improving Rather than Fixing
  • The wording in the question will provide clues.
  • Be sure to look at what the question is
    specifically asking.
  • Choose answer based on the purpose of the passage
    or the effect on the reader.
  • The question might read something like this
    Which of the following sentences provides new,
    specific information about that would enhance
    the passage?

Rhetorical Skills - Organization
  • Three Kinds of Organization Questions
  • Asks you to check the placement of an underlined
    word or phrase and possibly relocate it,
    according to what it should logically modify
  • Asks you to reorder sentences within a paragraph
  • Asks you to reorder paragraphs within the passage
    as a whole.
  • NOTE These will take time, so you might want to
    skip them and come back to them later. If you
    run out of time, use the letter of the day.

Rhetorical Skills - Organization
  • HINTS to Organizing Paragraphs
  • Trick to reordering sentences in a paragraph
    Find what should be the first sentence and look
    at answers to see which have it listed as first.
    This will eliminate some choices.
  • If you cant figure out which sentence comes
    first, try to pair two sentences together and
    check answers to see which have them listed
    together. Again, eliminates choices.
  • If that doesnt work, look for a concluding
  • When all else fails, pick your letter of the day.

Rhetorical Questions - Organization
  • Hints to Organize Whole Paragraphs
  • This will be the last question and it is
  • Do not reread the whole passage. Skim it and
    scribble a mini-summary by each paragraph.
  • Try to find the first paragraph and look for that
    choice in the answers. Do POE.
  • If you cant find the first paragraph, try to
    find two paragraphs that have a close
    relationship and look for that choice.
  • If that doesnt work, try to find a concluding
  • If you are spending too much time, pick your
    letter of the day and move on.

Rhetorical Skills - Style
  • Redundancy - Saying the same thing twice. Most
    ACT style questions are about redundancy.
  • e.g. 1) Cheap and inexpensive gifts can be
    found here. 2) After birth, the newborn babies
    are weighed. 3) The Vietnam vets were recently
    memorialized by a memorial in Washington. How to

Rhetorical Skills Style, contd
  • Other style possibilities
  • Tone
  • Mood
  • Purpose
  • Misuse of figurative language, such as metaphors
  • Awkward wording (in answer choice)
  • Words that dont exist (in answer choice)
  • Wordiness (in answer choice)
  • Just do your best with these