ACT / SAT Free Resource: English Tip Sheet

Studying for the ACT or SAT? Here is a FREE resources to help your self-studying. Check out this ACT/SAT English Tip Sheet.

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ACT/SAT English Tip Sheet

For Punctuation Questions

it’s v. its v. its’ 

it’s = it is 

its = possessive form

its’ = does NOT exist

To Join 2 or More Independent Clauses (IC),

you need a…

who v. whom v. whose

Who = Subject Pronoun (like “they”)

Whom = Object Pronoun (like “them”)

Example: The tiger, who roared, frightened the children. The children, whom the tiger frightened, didn’t run away.

Prepositions signal using “whom” (Example: both of whom

Subject-Verb Agreement

  • Look for the simple subject.

  • Use “they”/ “it” sounds-right test.

  • Note if 3 of your answers are singular and 1 is plural, then the plural answer is correct.

Two Parentheses = Two Dashes = Two Commas

(All of these can separate out nonessential material.)

  1. Period

  2. Semi-colon (semi-colon = period on ACT & SAT)

  3. Comma & FANBOYS (For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, So)

  4. Colon (colon = single dash on ACT & SAT)

  5. Single Dash (colon = single dash on ACT & SAT)

Common WRONG Punctuation Answers

  • Comma Splice: IC,IC or IC, transition IC

  • Run-On: IC IC or IC, transition, IC

To Join Dependent Clauses (DC) and Independent Clauses (IC)

  • if dependent clause (or phrase) comes first, you need a comma: DC, IC.

  • if dependent clause (or phrase) follows the independent, the comma is needed if dependent is nonessential: IC, DC or IC DC

No single comma should be placed between Subject & Verb.

Commas before prepositions are usually wrong.

For Composition Questions

Than v. Then

Than = Comparison

Then = Next

Example: The fossil of the dinosaur was older than the fossilized leaf. After analyzing the data, the scientists, then, decided to post the results.

Affect v. Effect

Affect =  Verb

Effect = Noun

Example: The gorilla affected the outcome of the zoo’s decision, and the decision’s ripple effects will be felt for generations.


Redundancy Q—

If answer choices seem repetitive or overly clunky, choose the shortest answer.

Task-Oriented Q—

For questions starting “Which Choice” or “Given that all the choices are true,” choose the most literal answer that fulfills the question’s task. 

Add/Delete Q—

For Yes, Yes, No, No questions, pay special attention to the reason in the answer. The reason must be valid.


For questions with NOT, EXCEPT, or LEAST, circle or underline the capitalized word. Look for the outlier in the answer choices. 

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