11 May 2011

A suggestion for managing time on ACT English

If you find yourself in the habit of slowing down on the rhetoric questions and then having to race at the end of the English sections, please consider
trying this out. (If you’re fine on time and have no problem with rhetoric questions, you can ignore this post.)

On ACT English, you have 45 minutes for 75 questions, divided into five passages with 15 questions each. That breaks down into 9 minutes per passage, or a little over 30 seconds per question.

As you may already know, however, some ACT English questions take far more time to finish than others. Grammar questions are often fairly straightforward and can often be done in a matter of seconds. However, rhetoric questions, especially ones that require you to reread substantial portions of the passage, can take much longer.

Now, rhetoric questions are usually located at the end of each passage — but not always. Sometimes they come right at the beginning. Sometimes they’re mixed in with grammar questions. When that’s the case, forget them for a little bit. Mark the ones you skip so you won’t forget to come back to them later, then do all the grammar questions.

If you get done with the grammar questions before the 9 minutes are up, go back to the rhetoric questions you skipped; if not, move on and do the same thing for the next passage (but don’t forget to guess on the ones you skipped; it can’t hurt you).

Your goal should be to get as many questions right as fast as you can. No question counts more than any other question, so it’s in your interest to first do all the questions you’re sure of, then worry about the ones you’re shaky on.

So the bottom line is this: don’t waste time working on a question you might not get right at the expense of working on a question you’ll almost certainly get right.

Leave a Reply