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Thomas Broderick

5 Most Frequently Tested ACT English Topics

When I was growing up, English was the bane of my existence. Standardized tests in elementary school put me in the 35th percentile in English. I didn’t really learn the difference between ‘it’s’ and ‘its’ until the ninth grade. Why reveal these embarrassing facts? Well, if you’re reading this article, English probably isn’t your best subject, either. In the next few paragraphs I will give you an overview of the 5 most frequently tested ACT English topics, and provide links to resources you can use to up your English game.


5 Most Frequently Tested ACT English Topics -Magoosh

The author in elementary school.


Before we go any further, you should know that this list is not the full list of topics tested on the ACT English Test. You will need to consult other sources if your goal is to crack the ‘Perfect 36.


Sentence Structure

Sentence structure questions comprise roughly 20-25% of the test. The main idea behind each question is, “What is the best way to link the two clauses on either side of the underlined word?” In these questions you will need to combine your knowledge of punctuation, the difference between independent and dependent clauses, and a variety of other techniques.


Grammar and Usage

Grammar and usage questions comprise roughly 15-20% of the test. Here are some of the questions that define grammar and usage:

  • Should a noun be singular or plural?
  • Which is the correct pronoun?
    • Is the pronoun referencing the right thing?
    • Does the pronoun agree with the verb it references?
  • Do the linking verbs and action verbs agree?
  • Is the verb in the right tense?
  • Do the subject and verb agree?
  • Are adjectives and adverbs used correctly in the sentence?
  • Is this idiom used correctly?




Strategy questions comprise roughly 15-20% of the test. In short, strategy questions will ask you to think like your English teacher. These questions will often begin with the phrase, “The writer wishes to add…” or something similar.

The correct answer choice will always do two things: serve as an introduction to the paragraph while also as a transition sentence between the paragraph and the one that came before it.




Style questions comprise roughly 15-20% of the test. The boil down to one question: “What is the most effective word to use in this sentence?” Again, you’re thinking like your English teacher. There are two main ideas in order to succeed on style questions.

  • The answer should not be redundant, meaning that it provides information already in the passage.
  • The answer should have the same tone as the rest of the passage.




Punctuation questions comprise roughly 15-20% of the test. Though only 10 questions at most, punctuation is the most straightforward part of the test. Here are the six study topics:

That’s a lot to know, and though every type of punctuation may not show up on the ACT English Test, knowing your punctuation can greatly improve your final score.


Final Thoughts

English is the hardest language in the world to learn, even for native speakers. These resource should give your ACT score a boost, but if you really want to learn the ends and outs of English, read books. Lots of books.

See you next time, ACT English Masters!


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About Thomas Broderick

Thomas spent four years teaching high school English, social studies, and ACT preparation in Middle Tennessee. Now living in Northern California, he is excited to share his knowledge and experience with Magoosh's readers. In his spare time Thomas enjoys writing short fiction and hiking in the Sonoma foothills.

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