Punctuation is Aggravation

Punctuation is aggravation, but it doesn’t have to be that way. 

(Note: Be aware that we’re discussing ACT grammar here, which is what you need right now. Out in the world, things change somewhat. That’s another discussion).

Also, there are trends, but very few absolutes on standardized tests. With grammar, ACT likes to fix one thing, but sometimes they break something else in the same answer. As always, READ CAREFULLY. 

Here are three scenarios to look out for on tomorrow’s ACT. 

1. Commas with FANBOYS (for, and, nor but, or, yet, so), semicolons and periods all work the same way. So if you see them as answer choices to the same question, they’re very likely wrong. 

For example: 

A) NO CHANGE 
B) Blah blah. Blah blah 
C) Blah blah; blah blah 
D) Blah blah, and blah blah 

Answers B, C, and D are all working the same way. Therefore, none of them can be right. The answer, based strictly on process of elimination, is A.
 

2. Transition word questions can often be handled strictly with process of elimination. 

ACT likes to load up three answer choices that work the same way, and one that’s working differently. This makes transition word questions quickly gettable. 

For example: 

Consider the underlined word as “and”… 

A) NO CHANGE 
B) In addition, 
C) Moreover, 
D) However, 

YOU DON’T NEED CONTENT OR CONTEXT TO ANSWER THIS QUESTION CORRECTLY. A, B, and C are words of “sameness” indicating two ideas are linked or “heading in the same direction.” If all three words are working the same way, none of them can be right. Only D is a word of difference, indicating divergent or contrasting ideas. So “D” is the obvious answer. 

3. ACT prefers “Active Voice,” which keeps the star of the sentence up front

Consider the following: (Insert your musician of choice). 

A) Jerry played the tune beautifully.
B) The tune was played beautifully by Jerry. 
C) The tune, which Jerry played beautifully… 
D) That tune that was beautifully played by Jerry... 

Notice only choice A put the subject (Jerry) at the front of the sentence, where he belongs. If you see answer choices that are saying the same thing, but in a variety of ways, look to put the subject up front. 

Letting the answer choices talk to you on grammar is vital. As always, shrink the test. Focus on accuracy over speed. Use process of elimination to make life easier and score more points. 

More as I learn it. Questions, comments, or help? Feel free to contact me.

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