ACT English Skills

Which exact skills will be tested on the ACT English exam?

There are six major areas which are tested on the English exam: grammar/usage, punctuation, sentence structure, strategy, organization, and style. You will receive two sub-scores within the English exam score: Language/Mechanics and Rhetorical Skills. Here is a breakdown of the skills tested within each sub score:


Punctuation (13%) These questions test your knowledge of conventional punctuation with emphasis on the relationship of punctuation to the meaning of the sentence and of the paragraph.

Sentence Structure (24%) These questions test your knowledge of relationships between clauses, modifiers, and shifts in tense and construction.

Grammar and Usage (16%) These questions test your understanding of proper English usage with topics such as subject and verb agreement, using proper modifiers, verb formation, proper pronoun usage, comparative and superlative adjectives, and adverbs and idiomatic usage.

Rhetorical Skills

Strategy (16%) These questions test your ability to develop a given topic by choosing appropriate expressions in relation to the passage’s audience and purpose as well as judging the effect of revised material and judging the relevance of statements within the given context.

Style (16%) These questions test your ability to select appropriate and precise words and images, maintain a consistent style and tone and avoid ambiguity, wordiness, and redundancy in writing.

Organization (15%) These questions test your ability to organize ideas and choose effective opening, transitional, and closing sentences.

There will be 40 questions which address Usage and Mechanics and 35 questions which address Rhetorical skills. You will not notice any obvious difference between these questions in terms of formatting. Each sub-score on the ACT is between 1 and 18. Your sub-score does not have a direct mathematical impact on your overall score in any subject area. In other words, you do not add your two English sub-scores together and get your English exam score.