No heroic adventure of epic proportions is complete without a bad guy. An ugly, terrible, maniacal villain. In the quest for standardized testing achievement, “being” is that bad guy.
“Being” is the villain because he looks like a good guy. He is going to sound like he fits ever-so-nicely into a sentence, but this is a trap! “Being” is almost always used incorrectly on both the SAT and the ACT. In the “Fix the Sentence” portion of the SAT and ACT NEVER pick an answer choice that contains the word “being.” And, in the “Find the Error” section of the SAT you need to pick “being” as the error.
Why is this villain so bad, you ask? Well, I hate to say it, but the beauty of the ACT and SAT is you technically do not need to know the “why” – just stay away from this very bad word! However, I will tell you in case you need to impress someone with your grammar prowess. “Being” often indicates passive voice, and the SAT and ACT want, for the most part, an active voice. Passive voice occurs when the subject is not doing the action whereas in active voice the subject is doing the action.
Want to get the last laugh in the SAT or ACT reading section? Pay close attention to the last line – better yet, underline this line. Chances are the last line is the key to the reading because this line concludes the author’s message and contains the extremely important MAIN IDEA. In fact, the entire concluding paragraph deserves a little extra attention in the SAT long reading passages and the ACT reading passages. Why? Because it, too, often sums up the main idea, proving the author’s point or message. So, confused by a reading? Jump to the conclusion! Then go back and skim the passage. Some students use this strategy for all readings, whether they are confusing or not!
With a mere 8.5 minutes to complete each ACT reading and a similar time constraint on the SAT, it’s important to use your time wisely. Jumping to the concluding paragraph might actually save you time. Figure out the author’s point, then go back to the beginning and skim the rest of the reading. This strategy gives you more time to focus on the questions, with ample time to go back into the reading to find the correct answers. Beginning at the end is sure to give you the last laugh.
Hey, guess what? Nobody’s watching over your shoulder as you take the ACT. And that means when it comes to the reading passages, you get to pick which one you read first.
The ACT always includes four readings, always in the same order: prose, social science, humanities and natural science. Now, most students (I’d say 99%) do the readings in the order given. It makes sense, right? Wrong!
Often students are strongest with the natural science readings and weakest with the narratives (prose). Science readings usually contain short paragraphs and are detailed-oriented. These science readings are a gift — easy-to-find answers, no thorough reading required.
Narratives, on the other hand, can be time-consuming. This is because students have to focus on the story as a whole while also looking for character and plot development. Many students spend too much time on this one passage, and barely get to the other three.
Why waste all of your time on your weakness rather than focusing on your strengths? Switch it up! Maybe you should begin with the natural science, then tackle your next strongest type of reading, and save the narrative for last.
In order to make this tactic work, you have to do some homework. Practice MANY readings and assess your results. Maybe the humanities passage is your downfall, or maybe it’s social science. Once you know where you shine and where you are weaker, you can create your own customized strategy.
Hey, sometimes it pays to break unwritten rules!