English questions on the ACT are demanding for a number of reasons. They may be asked in a format that is different than what you are accustomed to or they may be testing a language skill that is very challenging. In addition, you are trying to think quickly so that you can answer each question before time runs out. Here are three particularly difficult questions and what makes them so hard. These questions all come from the printable, 2014-2015 practice version of the ACT.
In the mythology, of the Tswana people of South Africa,
these same stars represent three pigs.
This question is challenging because it involves commas. Commas are always tricky. If you don’t read each choice carefully, you may miss where a comma is placed or why a particular comma was inappropriate. Choice C appears to be following a rule because there is a comma before each “of.” Unfortunately, it is not employing an accurate rule. The correct answer is D.
Reading out loud is an easy way to determine where the comma should be placed. However, during the exam you will have to hear the sentence in your head rather than hearing it out loud. Be sure you know your comma rules and practice silently “listening” to sentences.
It’s awesome that in other parts of
Japan, the same three stars appear in a constellation
representing the floor-length sleeve of a woman’s kimono.
G.You’ll be amazed to learn that in
H.Consider, if you will, the notion that in
This question is testing your understanding of context and what sort of language is appropriate within the context of the passage. It can be easy to slip into slang or colloquialisms that don’t fit the overall tone of the material. It may be tempting to choose H because it sounds sophisticated and flowery. But, in this situation, less is more. The correct answer is J. The descriptors don’t add anything to the fact being provided and “In” is sufficient.
Three bright stars that I’ve read about have acquired
significance for many viewers around the globe.
Which of the following alternatives to the underlined portion would NOT be acceptable?
This question could cause you to slip up because it is asking you to find the wrong answer. Usually you are looking for the correct option, it is counterintuitive to look for the wrong choice. When your brain sees so many correct answers it can be especially challenging to pick out the choice that doesn’t fit. The answer is G because “overseers” refers to something totally different than the rest of the choices. Practice is the only way to ensure you get these types of questions right. You have to know how to read the question and how to look for the wrong answer.
Practice is the best way to improve your ability to move quickly through these challenging types of questions. Being aware of all the different types of questions and how to approach them will improve your performance significantly.
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