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The 4 ACT Subtests: An Overview of What Your Child Needs to Know

Posted by Julia Wasson

Jul 29, 2014 6:00:00 AM

The ACT test is one of two tests used by colleges and universities for the purpose of admissions, and is primarily intended to be a test of content.

Students who have done well in the recommended sequence of courses through their junior year are likely to have learned the content they need to know for each of the ACT subtests: English, math, reading, and science. The ACT test also includes an optional writing essay.

But even students who are comfortable with the subject matter of the ACT test usually find time management to be a serious challenge. Knowing the best way to approach each section depends a lot on your child’s skill level in that subject area. A “C” student in English will likely need a different strategy than a “B” student to earn the same score. And students who are not confident in math, science, or reading will benefit from time management strategies that might seem counterintuitive until they try them.

Knowing what’s on the four ACT subtests and preparing with the right test-taking strategies is vital to earning a personal-best score.

The following is a breakdown of the four ACT subtests (plus the optional essay), including insights into how to prepare for each section:

ACT English Test Section

45 minutes, 75 questions

The ACT English test section covers punctuation, grammar, usage, sentence structure, logic and strategy, organization, and style.

Attention to detail is critical for this portion of the ACT test. Your child likely learned most of the ACT English rules way back in junior high school, and may be a little rusty on grammar. One effective way to prepare for the English section is to get an ACT study guide that includes a grammar review. Although cramming won’t be of much help on the ACT test in general, reviewing grammar rules a day or so before the test can be very beneficial.

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Topics: ACT test, ACT Subtests

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