Strategies for Taking the ACT English Test

Published on Wednesday, April 13th, 2016 by


Even the highest achieving student can find the English section of the ACT challenging. However, the ACT is just like any other test; you can be confident in finishing it if you familiarize yourself with the content beforehand. MasteryPrep removes the mystery of the ACT by getting you acquainted with the rigor and question structure; even those who are taking the ACT for the first time feel prepared for the test after they practice our test-taking strategies. We help you get ready for the big day through daily practice in the classroom, intense one-day Boot Camps, Weekly Tips emails, blog posts, and videos.


The English section on the ACT is notorious for testing your ability to comprehend and analyze text in a short amount of time. We’ll cover a variety of strategies to help you anticipate common pitfalls on the English section.


  1. Pace Yourself

One of the BIG secrets you will learn through our blogs, classes, and Boot Camps is how to pace yourself through each section of the ACT. Being able to finish each section in time is a huge part of getting the score you want.

With 75 questions and only 45 minutes to take the test (roughly 36 seconds per question), success on the English section largely comes from knowing how to pace yourself.

One easy way to do this is to practice taking an ACT English section. Time yourself and implement the strategies you learn here to master this section. You’ll also become more familiar with what appears on the test.

  1. Familiarize Yourself with Writing Styles

The passages in the English section cover a variety of topics and are written in different styles. Think of it like you’re reading a classmate’s essay on different assignments: a biography, a childhood memory, a technical explanation. Some essays have a higher vocabulary or more complicated sentences, but there are easier passages as well.

  1. Consider the Context

One of the main reasons students miss questions in the English section is because they rush through, only looking at the part that is underlined and guessing at the correct answer. It’s important to understand the context of each question. For instance, you have to know the whole sentence in order to decide which verb tense is correct or if the subject and verb agree.

Read through the passage from the beginning, answering questions as you come to them. You may need to look ahead to make sure the answer you pick fits with the rest of the sentence, but in general, answer the questions as you read through the passage.

  1. Go with Your Gut

This goes without saying, but if you have to completely guess on the English section of the ACT, go with the answer that makes the most sense. Oftentimes, the answer that looks correct actually is.

Of course, there can be some tricky or confusing answer choices, and we have tips for navigating through those. But when you’re stuck and the clock is winding down, go with your gut and make your best guess.


We recommend you take several practice tests so you can apply our strategies. The more you practice, the easier you’ll be able to use these tips on the real ACT.

What strategies do you use to succeed on the English section? Have you tried any of these strategies? Let us know—we love to highlight your success!