Three Punctuation Tips for Higher ACT Scores

Published on Monday, January 14th, 2019 by

ACT Chalk Talk #9


Punctuation makes up nearly 15% of your students’ ACT English scores, and it can influence their answers in another 10% of the questions. It’s important. Period. (Yes, we put the pun in punctuation!) Here are three easy tips for adding an exclamation point to your students’ ACT English scores:

1: No solo comma

Find the subject. Find the verb. Any answer choices that put just one comma between the subject and verb can be eliminated. Zero commas or two commas are okay, but one comma between the subject and verb is a sure sign of an incorrect answer choice.

2: Treat semicolons like periods

On the ACT, semicolons are used to join two independent clauses (just like a period). Mentally replace each semicolon in an answer choice with a period. If the sentences don’t work with the replacement, then the semicolon is being used incorrectly and the answer choice can be eliminated.

3: When in doubt, commas out

If you must blindly guess on a punctuation question, eliminate the obvious run-on sentences, then go with the choice that uses the fewest commas.