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Can YOU Get a Perfect Score on the ACT English Test?
So, you want to get a perfect score on the ACT English test? Awesome! That’s a great goal to have.
Trust me, I know you can do it if you put your mind to it. How am I so sure? Well - because I’ve done it myself, so I know it’s possible 😉
For context, I’m a professional ACT tutor with multiple perfect scores on the ACT (including the ACT English section). This article is all about the ACT English tips and tricks I want every high school student to know before they take the real ACT test.
Grab your pen and paper to take some notes, because we’re about to boost your ACT English score into the stratosphere!
Let’s begin with an introduction to what the ACT English test really is…
What Is the ACT English Test?
So, what exactly is the ACT English test?
Well, I’d describe it as a 45-minute test of your grammar and editing skills. The individual questions (there are 75 of them) are mostly very quick to finish if you know what you’re doing. Each question tests from 1 to 3 distinct rules of English grammar and language.
All 75 ACT English questions are multiple-choice, and almost questions all include a “No Change” answer choice. That means you’ll be punished for uncertainty about the rules of grammar, because you’ll never know if you need to change something - or it’s fine the way it is.
About 2/3 of the questions focus on specific grammar rules - like semicolons, singular-plural, or verb tense. These questions can take just seconds to answer - if you’re confident and skilled in the rules you’re being tested on.
The other 1/3 of the questions are more about “big-picture” concepts like editing paragraphs or re-arranging sentences to improve flow and clarity. These big-picture questions usually take more time and more re-reading.
The purpose of the ACT English test is to judge your college readiness. A perfect score on the ACT English test is a “36,” and the national average score is about a 20 or 21.
If you can set yourself apart with a high ACT English score, the colleges you apply to will see that you’re ready for college-level writing assignments.
The ACT English section isn’t particularly hard, but it may test your patience - I’ve never met a student who enjoys studying grammar. Most of us find grammar pretty boring - and that’s OK. We don’t have to love grammar, we just have to master it.
So, what’s the first step to getting a perfect score on the ACT English test? Read on…
1. Get the Right Books for ACT English Prep.
The entire ACT English section gets easier when you have the right books to study from.
Naturally, you should already have a copy of the Official ACT Prep Book - but if you don’t, now’s the time to order one. You’ll use this book for official practice materials. It won’t really teach you about your mistakes, but it gives you realistic ACT English practice.
The next book to get is Erica Meltzer’s Complete Guide to ACT English. We’ve also written a review about this fantastic grammar book so you can learn more about it. It’s sure to help you get closer to a perfect score on the ACT English test!
“The Complete Guide to ACT English” is perfect for targeted drills on specific problem areas. It’s broken down into chapters, lessons, and practice problems with answers and explanations.
The Official ACT Prep Book is mandatory for all serious ACT test prep students - but if you really want to get a perfect score on the ACT test, you’ll also be on the lookout for elite supplemental books like Ms. Meltzer’s ACT English guide.
2. Master Individual ACT Grammar Rules One-By-One.
The next step is basically to work through a complete checklist of all the rules of grammar and English on the ACT Test.
If that seems like a huge task, don’t worry - it’s really not that hard. You’re probably already good at a lot of the grammar topics. And, the Complete Guide to ACT English book will provide an excellent table of contents for you to study from.
Do pay extra attention to these tough grammar topics that throw off a lot of students’ ACT English scores:
- Semicolons and colons
- Comma Usage
- Independent and Dependent Clauses
- Context Questions like “Where should this sentence be moved to?” or “Should this statement be deleted from the passage?”
Master each ACT English topic with a mix of “theory” and “practice.” Theory is understanding, and practice is doing. Make sure you “understand” before you try to “do.” Otherwise you’ll just get frustrated and you won’t learn from your mistakes.
But, your work isn’t done yet.
Even if you can explain the rules of grammar in your sleep, there’s still a major danger to your ACT English score! Keep reading to learn a huge but common mistake that will keep you from getting a perfect score on the ACT English test….
3. Read ACT English Questions Carefully.
It always amazes me when students get ACT English answers wrong, just because they didn’t read the words of the question carefully.
You’d be surprised to learn how many easy questions you’re missing just because you’re misreading. And, there’s no way to get a perfect score on the ACT English test unless you read each question word-for-word.
Personally, I think the main reason for misreading ACT English questions is boredom. The ACT English test is quite long, at 75 questions… and it can feel even longer than that. When it seems like you have hundreds of grammar questions left to do, it’s hard to stay completely focused on the one you’re on.
Unfortunately, that’s exactly what it takes. You have to put the other ACT English questions out of your head, and focus intently on the question you’re currently on.
You can always recover and fix your mistakes - if you get the wrong answer. But if you’re answering the wrong question, then you’re in a hopeless situation. No matter how hard you work, you can’t get the right answer from the wrong question.
Other reasons for misreading in the ACT English test are A) rushing or being worried about the time limit. Or B) not having enough energy and sleep that day. These two problems are easier to fix. Simply make sure you’re getting enough sleep each night, and never value speed above accuracy.
The best ACT English students value accuracy first, and understand that speed will come later.
4. Find a Great ACT Test Prep Tutor.
If you don’t feel like you can do all this grammar study on your own, it’s OK!
I highly recommend that you find a great ACT prep tutor to help you get a perfect score on the ACT English test.
A good ACT prep tutor will have vast experience teaching this grammar and English content to other high school students. Your ACT tutor should make you feel comfortable and confident. And, without a doubt, you should be learning something new and valuable with each ACT Tutoring session.
You could also consider taking an ACT Test Prep Class. But, a group class will make it harder for you to focus purely on ACT English. The course will probably split the class time between all sections of the ACT Test. Plus, the group-class aspect means that you won’t always get all your personal questions answered.
Personally, I love teaching a good ACT prep class. But if your only goal is a perfect score on the ACT English test, then you’re probably better off with 1-on-1 private ACT prep tutoring - focused purely on English and grammar rules.
Contact us at Love the SAT Test Prep for more info on ACT test prep tutoring and classes!
5. Keep an ACT English Prep Journal.
If you’re shooting for a perfect score on the ACT English test, you’re going to need a way to keep track of your progress and your areas for improvement.
I recommend creating an “ACT Prep Journal” that you update once per day or once per week. Use it to document your study habits, your problem areas, and your plans to improve.
Keep a written record of what you’ve done to get better at ACT English. Also keep track of your strengths and weaknesses. This journal combines very well with your copy of the Complete Guide to ACT English, and gives you a way to identify the exact grammar topics that are hurting your score.
One lesson we can take from business is “What we measure, improves.” Keep a clear record of your ACT English studies, and you’ll find yourself with a perfect score even faster.
6. Take Timed Practice ACT English Tests.
Once you’ve started to master the individual rules of the ACT English test, you’ll want to take some full-length, timed ACT English sections and score yourself. This step only makes sense after you’ve started working on your specific problem areas; otherwise you’ll just wear yourself out.
See, there are two important forms of ACT prep. The first form is learning what you don’t already know: to target specific weak topics and use practice problems to improve those weak spots. The second form is to build up your stamina and speed with full-length timed practice sections.
You don’t necessarily have to take the entire practice ACT Test just to work on your English section. In fact, the English test is always the first section of the ACT. That means even if you only do a practice English section, it will still be very similar to a full-length ACT test.
This is a different situation that say, ACT Science prep. The Science test is always the fourth section of the ACT, which means that under real testing conditions, you’ll feel exhausted by the time the Science section starts.
So, practicing for the ACT Science requires full-length practice ACT tests to replicate the feeling of exhaustion that you will have on test day. But, ACT English is different. Since it’s always the first section, you’ll be as fresh as possible. And that means, when we practice ACT English, we can isolate only this section, and don’t need to continue a full-length practice ACT all the way until the end.
Score your practice ACT English sections, and keep notes in your journal about what mistakes you made. Then, go back to studying the rules and regulations of ACT grammar. Put all your focus on topics related to the questions you missed in practice.
When you feel ready, come back and take your next practice ACT English section. It’s a gradual process, so don’t blame yourself for occasionally backsliding. Just keep putting in the effort to move forward, and a perfect score on the ACT English section will be yours in time.
7. Devote Extra Time to Personal Reading.
If you’ve read many of my other ACT test prep articles, you know that I’m huge on personal free-reading.
How much free reading should you do? Well, the truth is, you can never spend too much time reading. Here’s why:
Not only does personal reading make you a faster, more capable reader, you also learn a bunch of interesting stuff by reading! You can daydream about far-off places, learn to build a bicycle, or start your own business - all by picking up a book.
Of course, reading skills also help you get a perfect score on the ACT English test. The more you read, the more familiar you become with the rules of “proper” English - the very same rules that the ACT will test you on.
Reading more literature will also help you come up with concrete examples for your ACT Essay!
When I make this free-reading suggestion to students, I often get a little pushback. “I hate reading,” “I don’t have time for reading,” and “I don’t know what to read” are all common complaints from the high school students I work with.
Trust me - I get it. I was in high school once too, remember? But you still can’t afford to neglect your reading skills. And high school classes by themselves are not enough to become a truly great reader. Are you making good use of your weekends in high school?
Keep in mind that I’m a pro SAT and ACT prep tutor with multiple perfect scores on both tests and 6+ years of full-time experience dedicated to helping teenagers improve their test scores. I don’t say this to brag, but to help convince you how deadly serious I am.
Personal free-reading is a huge part of great ACT test scores… so stick your nose in a book!
Make sure to pick books that are both enjoyable and challenging. If you don’t like what you’re reading, you’ll probably put the book down and never return to it. But, if the reading doesn’t challenge you, then you won’t get any better.
Check out our recommended reading lists, then head to Amazon.com or your local bookstore to pick up a stack of new books to read!
8. Take Multiple Official ACT Tests.
No matter how well-prepared you are for the ACT Test, you never really know how things will go until you get your ACT scores back. So, if you want to get a perfect score on the ACT English test, you definitely want to schedule multiple ACT Test dates as a backup plan.
It’s common to feel a little disappointed when you get your ACT scores back - “I’m sure I could do better” is a perfectly natural response, and I’m sure you can do better with time and practice!
The beauty is, you can take more than one official ACT Test. In fact, there’s technically no limit to how many times you can take the ACT.
However, you probably shouldn’t just take one ACT after another. Instead, you should make an intelligent plan to space out 3 to 5 official ACT tests throughout Junior and Senior year. Contact us for personalized advice on how to make this happen.
You can do your ACT English prep in between your official ACT tests. If you space your 3 to 5 ACT tests throughout a year or two, you should have plenty of time to be ready (as long as you use your time wisely).
Don’t Forget the Other Sections of the ACT Test.
Don’t forget to prep for the other sections of the ACT Test amidst all your hard work towards getting a perfect score on the ACT English test.
The ACT doesn’t just test you on grammar - you’ll also have to display your skills in Math, Reading, Science, and Essay-Writing.
Here are some of our best articles to get you started prepping for the other sections of the ACT Test:
- How to Get a Higher Score on the ACT Test
- Top ACT Math Tips from a Pro ACT Tutor
- How to Get a Perfect Score on ACT Reading
- ACT Science Tips
- Top 9 ACT Essay Tips (From An Experienced ACT Tutor)
Any time you have questions about ACT prep, just leave them in the comments section below, or contact us directly and we’ll help you out!
ACT English: Conclusion and Review.
So, now you know much more about the ACT English section!
As you can see, there’s no “easy button” to get a perfect score on the ACT English test. It takes a lot of hard work and independent study.
But, the great news is that it’s simple to get a higher ACT English score:
- Get the right ACT English books, identify your weaknesses, and keep a journal of what you need to work on.
- Find a great ACT prep tutor, master individual rules of English grammar, and take timed practice tests.
- Check out our course store for exclusive premium ACT prep courses available for instant download.
- Spend extra time on personal reading, and plan multiple official ACT Test dates so you have more than one chance at a great score.
Once you’ve mastered the ACT English section, move on to the other sections of the ACT Test. Keep moving forward each week. When you look back on your success, you’ll be so proud of your higher ACT test score and your acceptance into your favorite college.
Study With Us and Get Higher ACT English Scores!
At Love the SAT, we’re very familiar with the ins-and-outs of ACT English prep - and we’d love to share our tips and tricks with you.
We teach 1-on-1 ACT Prep Tutoring and small-group ACT Test Prep Classes in Austin, TX. And, if you live somewhere else, we offer 1-on-1 Online ACT Test Prep Tutoring - so you can study with us from anywhere in the world!
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