Below, I created a quick English ACT Study Guide for last minute test takers. It is designed to give you basic strategies (ones I use with my clients and perfected over the years).
Whenever I see a low ACT score in the English section, I think "Oh good. This is the easiest section to increase on the test". Why? Because many students just need some basic test taking tips AND a grammar and punctuation tutorial. My students consistently score well in this section if they follow these simple rules in this English ACT Study Guide.
The ACT really dislikes wordy answer choices. If you are down to two choices, always pick the simpler one.
Too many students ignore the "No Change" option in the answer choices. The choice "No Change" will always be the listed first as an option. Always consider that possibility that the original answer choice in the passage may be fine. And don't panic if you select two "No Change"options in a row. It happens all of the time on the test.
These types of questions can be tricky because students are asked to select the POOR answer choice. Because we are trained to select the correct answer, these types of questions can really confuse students. Whenever I see this type of question, I circle the "NOT", "EXCEPT",or "LEAST", so I remember what I am searching for in the answer choices.
On some questions, the last option will be to "OMIT" the underlined material. I always strongly consider this choice, especially if what is underlined is repeated elsewhere in the sentence or repeats information in the same paragraph.
The ACT test loves semi-colons (;). If you know that a semi-colon is similar to a period (both separate independent clauses), then you will do fine. If you see a semi-colon, ask yourself: "Would I put a period there? If not, then I cannot put a semi-colon there either." The ACT test does not expect students to know the stylistic differences between the semi-colon and the period. If the period or semi-colon does not seem appropriate, then typically you need a comma there instead.
These five rules from the English ACT Study Guide is a good start. After that, a student needs to fine tune by reviewing ACT practice tests results and, if necessary, study more grammar and punctuation. When you are ready for that, read my English ACT Study Guide grammar and punctuation supplement.