1,296 ACT Practice Questions, 3rd Edition (2013)

English Practice Section 2


45 Minutes—75 Questions

DIRECTIONS: In the five passages that follow, certain words and phrases are underlined and numbered. In the right-hand column, you will find alternatives for each underlined part. In most cases, you are to choose the one that best expresses the idea, makes the statement appropriate for standard written English, or is worded most consistently with the style and tone of the passage as a whole. If you think the original version is best, choose “NO CHANGE.” In some cases, you will find in the right-hand column a question about the underlined part. You are to choose the best answer to the question.

You will also find questions about a section of the passage or the passage as a whole. These questions do not refer to an underlined portion of the passage but rather are identified by a number or numbers in a box.

For each question, choose the alternative you consider best and blacken the corresponding oval on your answer document. Read each passage through once before you begin to answer the questions that accompany it. For many of the questions, you must read several sentences beyond the question to determine the answer. Be sure that you have read far enough ahead each time you choose an alternative.


Building a Beauty Empire

In 1867, on an unassuming farm in tiny Delta, Louisiana, a daughter was born to1 former slaves Minerva and Owen Breedlove. Little did anyone realize that Sarah Breedlove, orphaned at age six when her parents died,2 would grow up to become one of the most successful African-American entrepreneurs in history. 

At twenty, Sarah Breedlove found herself widowed with an infant daughter, A’Lelia. Sarah packed up her few belongings and moved to St. Louis, hoping to take advantage of its’4 more numerous opportunities.

She supported herself as a laundress there for the next eighteen years. In 1905, she came up with an idea that would revolutionize the cosmetics industry. By ten years,5 she would not only oversee a vast financial empire but also become one of the best-known women in the United States.

Sarah invented a scalp conditioning and healing formula, in part because she had suffered from a disease that resulted in hair loss. Sarah undertook countless journeys to sell her formula door-to-door. As well as6 in churches and lodges. She dubbed herself Madame C. J. Walker, taking the name of her second husband, Charles J. Walker, who worked in the newspaper publishing business and who also lived in St. Louis.7 She claimed that the secret formula for Madame Walker’s Wonderful Hair Grower had come to her in a dream.

At this time, there were relatively few beauty parlors, so many women received beauty treatments at home. Sarah taught her methods to other women, they8 focused on sales and became known as the “Walker Agents.” Below9 Sarah’s supervision, these agents became familiar sights in their white shirts and black skirts. Sarah called them “scalp specialists” and hair and beauty “culturists” using10 these terms to emphasize the professional nature of the treatments.

[1] In 1913, she traveled to the Caribbean and to Central America, but before that11 Sarah concentrated on improving and developing the manufacture of her products. [2] One of the first of these charitable acts was her generous $1,000 donation to the city’s YMCA. [3] In 1910, she established the Walker Company headquarters—which featured a factory in addition to salons and a training school—in Indianapolis. [4] Chosen12 because it was then the largest inland manufacturing city in the country, Indianapolis became both Sarah’s home and the first beneficiary of her social activism and dedication to charitable causes. 

Social efforts dominated the latter years of Sarah’s life. She contributed the largest donation to the effort to save Frederick Douglass’s home, maintaining,14 the building as a historical museum. In 1913, she organized her agent-operators into “Walker Clubs,” promoting these groups’ philanthropic work by offering cash prizes to those doing the most good in their communities. Upon her death in 1919, “Madame Walker”—now often regarded as the richest self-made woman in the United States during her lifetime—donated two-thirds of her company’s net profit to charitable causes.

  1.  A. NO CHANGE

     B. by

     C. under

     D. for

  2.  F. NO CHANGE

     G. who became an orphan as a child at the age of six years old when her parents died,

     H. whose parents died when she was just age six leaving her to be an orphan as a young child,

     J. tragically when her parents died becoming an orphan at the young age of six years old,

  3. At this point, the writer is considering adding the following true statement:

Also born in Louisiana, Louis Armstrong went on to exert a similarly powerful influence on 1920s American culture as a jazz trumpeter.

Should the writer add this sentence here?

     A. Yes, because it’s important to know that other influential people were born in Louisiana besides the woman portrayed in this essay.

     B. Yes, because this reference shows that music was important during this period.

     C. No, because the role Louis Armstrong played in 1920s culture is irrelevant to the main topic of this essay.

     D. No, because the 1920s were not significant years in American history.

  4.  F. NO CHANGE

     G. it’s

     H. their

     J. its

  5.  A. NO CHANGE

     B. Up to ten years,

     C. Within ten years,

     D. Before ten years,

  6.  F. NO CHANGE

     G. door-to-door; as well as

     H. door-to-door, as well as

     J. door-to-door: as well as

  7.  A. NO CHANGE

     B. a man who lived in St. Louis and who worked in newspaper publishing.

     C. a St. Louis newspaperman.

     D. a newspaper publishing businessman who was very well known in the St. Louis area.

  8.  F. NO CHANGE

     G. women, who

     H. women, with whom

     J. women those

  9.  A. NO CHANGE

     B. Above

     C. As

     D. Under


     G. “culturists”; using

     H. “culturists”: using

     J. “culturists,” using

11. Given that all the choices are true, which one provides the most effective transition from the preceding paragraph to this new one?


     B. After her daughter A’Lelia built a magnificent townhome in an exclusive Manhattan neighborhood,

     C. Aside from training a small “army” of agent-operators,

     D. When Sarah had designed a special Walker Method treatment for celebrated dancer Josephine Baker,


     G. chose

     H. choosed

     J. choosing

13. For the sake of the logic and coherence of this paragraph, Sentence 2 should be placed:

     A. where it is now.

     B. before Sentence 1.

     C. after Sentence 3.

     D. after Sentence 4.


     G. home, maintaining

     H. home; maintaining

     J. home maintaining,

Question 15 asks about the preceding passage as a whole.

15. Suppose the writer’s goal had been to write a brief essay focusing on the development of the beauty industry in the early part of the twentieth century. Would this essay successfully accomplish this goal?

     A. Yes, because the essay focuses on the beauty industry of the 1920s, during which Madame C. J. Walker became wealthy.

     B. Yes, because the essay describes how Sarah invented a new formula to facilitate hair growth and treat scalp problems.

     C. No, because the essay focuses mainly on Sarah Breedlove Walker and her place in the history of American business and culture.

     D. No, because the essay describes other events taking place during this time that were more significant.


A Tale of Two Uncles

[1] As my uncle and I finished our dinners,16 we were hardly saying a word. [2] For the most part, it was a very ordinary birthday celebration.17 [3] After we had my favorite meal, lamb chops, my uncle made me his famous banana split sundae for dessert. [4] Banana splits are best with two scoops of chocolate ice cream, in my opinion. [5] Normally, my uncle would get very excited watching me eat dessert and have me make wishes for the coming year. [6] However, as our spoons clinked around mounds of ice cream and banana, his mood turned sad and soft-spoken. [7] I knew the source of our tension: today was my eighteenth birthday and next month I’d be at boot camp. 

He said that joining the army19 he had some strong reservations about me rather than going to college. I told him that I believed my father, who was killed serving in the Polish army, would have been proud of my decision.  My uncle responded that my father would have felt even better about me staying out of harm’s way. In fact, my uncle continued, the reason that we moved to the United States was so that I would be more protected than I was in Poland. I think my uncle also found it surprising that I would want to join the U.S. army. He often asked me—21why I would risk my life for a country that was not my homeland. I told him that I considered America my new homeland. He was shocked.

[1] He began reminding me of my Polish upbringing. [2] My uncle has as many stories about my childhood than I do.22

[3] He would take me to the local carnival in July.  [4] One24 would buy ourselves hotcakes and ride the ferris wheel. [5] When the strawberries came into bloom, we would go hiking in the Tatras mountains. [6] He and I would row canoes and have swimming races from our dock out to a big rock formation and back. [7] At night, we would lie on the porch in the sleeping bags,25 my grandmother had bought, drink cocoa, and listen26 to the chorus of crickets. [8] My uncle tells27 me ghost stories under the starlit sky. 

When my uncle finished reminiscing, I assured him that I still love Poland and will never lose sight of it’s29 influence on who I am today. However, America gave my uncle an opportunity when an engineering firm in Pittsburgh offered him a job seven years ago. After we immigrated to America,30 I became exposed to the cultural attitudes, social customs, and economic possibilities of growing up as an American child. My time in America has given me a deep love for it and loyalty to it. As we finished our dessert, I asked my uncle to make peace with my decision to defend Uncle Sam.

16. Which of the following alternatives to the underlined portion would NOT be acceptable?

     F. While my uncle and I finished dinner,

     G. My uncle and I were almost finished eating, but

     H. My uncle and I finished our dinners, however,

     J. As my uncle and I were finishing our dinners,


     B. celebration, just like always.

     C. celebration with nothing abnormal.

     D. celebration and traditional.

18. Which of the following sentences is LEAST relevant to the theme of the passage and could therefore be deleted?

     F. Sentence 2

     G. Sentence 3

     H. Sentence 4

     J. Sentence 6

19. The best place for the underlined portion would be:

     A. where it is now.

     B. after the word reservations.

     C. after the word me.

     D. after the word than.

20. If the writer were to delete the phrase “who was killed serving in the Polish army” (and the surrounding commas) from the preceding sentence, the paragraph would primarily lose:

     F. nothing, since this information is mentioned elsewhere in the paragraph.

     G. evidence that the narrator’s father was considered a brave man.

     H. a necessary detail that supports the logical flow of ideas in the paragraph.

     J. an explanation of why the narrator is unwilling to join the Polish army.


     B. me,

     C. me

     D. me:


     G. as I do.

     H. then I do.

     J. DELETE the underlined portion.

23. At this point, the writer is thinking of adding the following sentence:

Different cities in Poland host carnivals during different months of the year.

Should the writer make this addition here?

     A. Yes, because it relates to the essay’s topic of celebration rituals in different cultures.

     B. Yes, because it gives the reader crucial background information about the narrator’s cultural upbringing.

     C. No, because it offers information that does not help to preserve the focus of this paragraph.

     D. No, because it reiterates a detail that is mentioned elsewhere in the passage.


     G. You

     H. We

     J. They


     B. bags

     C. bags;

     D. bags, that


     G. drank cocoa, and listen

     H. drank cocoa, and listened

     J. drink cocoa, and listening


     B. has told

     C. would tell

     D. was telling

28. Upon reviewing this paragraph and noticing that some information has been omitted, the author composes the following sentence, using that information:

Sometimes, in the warm months of the fall, my uncle rented a rustic vacation home on Lake Drawsko.

For the sake of the logic of this paragraph, this sentence should be placed after Sentence:

     F. 4.

     G. 5.

     H. 6.

     J. 7.


     B. its’

     C. its

     D. their

30. Given that all of the choices are accurate, which one provides the most effective and logical transition from the preceding sentence to this one?


     G. Pittsburgh being the biggest city in Pennsylvania,

     H. He is a very well-respected engineer, and

     J. Although I have visited Philadelphia, Pittsburgh is where


Not the Same Old Song and Dance

After graduating from college, I decided to test my International Studies degree by living and working in China. I had studied31 only a year of Mandarin Chinese at university, so I struggled with adaptation early on. I poured myself into work at first, finding that enduring the same 12-hour workdays as several of my Chinese coworkers was just as difficult as to adapt32 to Chinese culture. All the while, at the same time,33 I slowly taught myself more Chinese with a language CD and forced myself to interact at local places like restaurants and markets. The easiest way to adapt, however, had been right under my nose34 the entire time.

All I had to do was spend time with my coworkers outside of work. My project team had already taken a quickly liking of35 me, and I had been invited to several functions. I hadn’t accepted yet out of fear of being unable to communicate, but my feelings of guilt at having turned down so many kind invitations eventually outweighed that fear. When disappointed in myself,36 I acquiesced one night, knowing this would be an important step in learning the Chinese way of life. The ensuing night would prove to be quite memorable and unforgettable.37

We began the evening with dinner. I proudly requested to order since I had learned quite a lot of food vocabulary. Everyone seemed surprised,38 and impressed by the variety of dishes I could order. Our post-dinner destination was a karaoke house (KTV), a very popular form of entertainment in China.  The karaoke took place in a private room with just our group. The experience was accompanied by embarrassment as40 karaoke often is, but mine did not come from singing.

When one girl refused to sing a song I had chosen, I decided to playfully chant to her the songs number41 on the screen. The number was thirty-eight, but I chanted only three and eight, something which can be understood easily in English but is not common in Chinese. What I failed to realize was that the Chinese words for three and eight, when used as slang, can also mean crazy. Since my Chinese friends were not accustomed to number shortening, they could only assume I had just unreasonably insulted our female coworker.  After much confusion and a difficult explanation on my part, the matter was resolved, and everyone had a good laugh over it. A valuable lesson was certainly learned by me43 about differences in slang.  This experience was the first of many cultural lessons I would learn by simply being social in a foreign environment.45


     B. study

     C. studying

     D. have studied


     G. when adapting

     H. as having adapted

     J. as adapting


     B. All the while,

     C. All while at the same time,

     D. While all the time was the same,

34. Which choice would most clearly and effectively express the obviousness of the best method of adaptation?


     G. noticeable

     H. doubtful

     J. obscure


     B. quick liking of

     C. quick liking to

     D. quickly liking to


     G. (Do NOT being new paragraph) Disappointed in myself,

     H. (Begin new paragraph) When disappointed in myself,

     J. (Begin new paragraph) Disappointed in myself,


     B. memorable and hard to forget.

     C. as memorable as can be.

     D. memorable.


     G. seemed surprised

     H. seemed, surprised

     J. seemed; surprised

39. At this point, the writer is considering adding the following true statement:

Karaoke did not originate in China.

Should the writer add this sentence here?

     A. Yes, because it supports that fact that karaoke is very popular despite being an import.

     B. Yes, because it adds to the international flavor of the essay.

     C. No, because it simply repeats a detail stated earlier in the essay.

     D. No, because it doesn’t add to the focus of this paragraph.


     G. embarrassment as,

     H. embarrassment, as

     J. embarrassment, as,


     B. songs’ number

     C. song’s number

     D. songs’s number

42. If the preceding sentence were deleted, the essay would primarily lose:

     F. a repetition of the main point of the essay.

     G. another example of slang errors between languages.

     H. a contrast with the paragraph’s opening sentence.

     J. a detail of how the rest of the party reacted to the author’s mistake.


     B. I certainly learned a valuable lesson

     C. A lesson learned was certainly valuable

     D. Certainly learning a valuable lesson

44. If the writer wanted to emphasize that there are other differences in slang among languages besides the one discussed in the essay, which of the following true statements should be added at this point?

     F. Slang differences are difficult to understand.

     G. Slang is a popular way to communicate.

     H. Learning about other slang differences can help to avoid cultural misunderstandings.

     J. Daily conversation among peers often includes slang.

45. Which choice would best summarize the main point of the essay as illustrated by the narrator’s miscommunication experience?


     B. intentionally insulting a local person in a foreign country.

     C. enjoying night life in a foreign country.

     D. studying a foreign language in an isolated environment.


Life in the Bike Lane


When I was growing up, I used to ride my bike all the time. Even though I spent most of my childhood around the daunting, Pennsylvania, hills46 and mountains, I still loved to ride wherever and whenever I could. I suppose for someone who was too young to drive, the bicycle provided a certain amount of freedom.


Along47 came my sixteenth year and a driver’s license, and that was it for the bike. When I finally got my driver’s license, I felt that I had turned a page in my life, and that its48 old bike was part of a previous chapter. There it sat for my last two years of high school and all four years of college while I gleefully drove back and forth even the distances smallest in length,49 through the worst traffic and weather conditions, and amid the mounting prices of gas.


Then I moved out50 on my own and found that I had moved to a place where the car had a lot less allure. Fresh out of college, I didn’t have bundles of money to throw around, and in my new environs, bundles of money was exactly51 what I needed to use the car with any regularity. Gas cost at least fifty cents more per gallon than I was used to, and what would’ve been a quick 30-minute drive where I grew up easily became a two-hour drive because of all the traffic in this new place! 


After I couldn’t take any more, I resolved and decided53 that the next time I visited my parents, I would bring the bike out of retirement. As if uncovering a lost volume of an ancient work, I entered the attic with a flashlight, even if I fought54 off fear and cobwebs in equal measure. It seemed hopeless, I thought. Even if I could find my bike in this above-house cavern, it wouldn’t be the same as it was before. I was so much older now, had known the pleasures of the automobile, and was out of shape from all the highway snacking and sitting. Then, there it was, and I felt the surge that the gold-rushers’55 must have felt in California in the 1800s when they struck gold.


Needless to say, my joy at having rediscovered this long lost friend was overwhelming, but it was amplified when I had returned to my own place and began by riding56 the bike around town. I had been freed from four-dollar-a-gallon gas, traffic jams, and having been freed from the57interminable wait at the bus stop!


I realized then that I had regained that freedom I had enjoyed so much when I was younger, in58 my first apartment, this freedom had taken on a different character; . Now it was a freedom from the constraints that prevented me from doing what I wanted to do in the city, that had me sitting in traffic or spending all my hard-earned cash on gas. I had moved out of the fast lane and into the bike lane, and I was finally able to get the most out of my new life.


     G. daunting Pennsylvania hills

     H. daunting Pennsylvania hills,

     J. daunting, Pennsylvania, hills,

47. Which of the following alternatives to the underlined portion would NOT be acceptable?

     A. Then

     B. Next

     C. Subsequently

     D. In following


     G. one’s

     H. your

     J. my


     B. shortest and smallest distances,

     C. distances that were short, not long,

     D. shortest distances,


     G. myself out

     H. myself in

     J. in


     B. weren’t exacting

     C. was exact

     D. were exactly

52. If the writer were to delete the phrase “in this new place” (placing an exclamation point after the word traffic), this sentence would primarily lose:

     F. a contrast to the phrase “where I grew up” in the same sentence.

     G. factual information regarding the purpose of the author’s move.

     H. a contrast to the phrase “a quick 30-minute drive” in the same sentence.

     J. a logical connection to the place mentioned in Paragraph 1.


     B. resolution in my deciding

     C. resolved

     D. decidedly resolved


     G. fighting

     H. because I fought

     J. and had fought


     B. gold-rusher’s

     C. gold-rushers

     D. gold-rushers,


     G. to riding

     H. to ride

     J. with riding


     B. and freed from the

     C. and the

     D. and from the freeing of the


     G. younger, furthermore, in

     H. younger. In

     J. younger in

59. Given that all the following are true, which one, if added here at the end of this sentence, would provide the most effective transition to the following sentence?

     A. it wasn’t just freedom of movement anymore

     B. not a character as in a play, but more in the sense of a “type”

     C. I had resolved to ride my bike any distance shorter than ten miles

     D. I had to get the brakes fixed before I could use it a lot

Question 60 asks about the preceding passage as a whole.

60. Suppose the writer had intended to write a brief essay detailing the transportation options for visitors to a major city. Would this essay successfully fulfill the writer’s goal?

     F. Yes, because the writer discusses biking, driving, and taking the bus in detail.

     G. Yes, because this essay deals with the ways in which the city would have fewer traffic jams if more people rode bikes.

     H. No, because the essay focuses instead on the writer’s personal feelings about biking and driving in the city.

     J. No, because the essay deals primarily with the convenience of driving and its superiority over other forms of transportation.


Man’s Best Friend


More and more, people are treating their pets like royalty. Where once it was considered extravagant to put a sweater or a pair of shoes on a dog that61 it is almost to the point now where it is considered an abuse not to dress your dog for cold weather! Large pet stores are not the only ones that benefit62 from people’s interest in dogs—raising pets has become an industry all its own, with significant representation in the clothing, publishing, and entertainment industries, to name a few. How did we ever get this way?


Archaeologists have found cultural and skeletal evidence of domesticated dogs as far back as 6500 BCE in Mesopotomia and as far back as 8300 BCE in what is now North America. Put simply, dogs have been around as domesticated animals for a long time and in all different parts of the world. Some historians suggest that dogs as a species evolved into something close to their current form as many as 100,000 years ago, and many historians estimate that dogs were first domesticated as many as 15,000 years ago. There are over 800 different breeds of dogs, and many more that cannot be classified into a single breed.63


Although64 dogs have been bred and domesticated for many reasons throughout history, the primary reason for their breeding in ancient times was their usefulness as hunting companions. Dogs’ agility and sense of smell still, to this day, help hunters to capture their prey. Dogs were also often used as protectors, whom65 primary responsibility was to sit in front of a residence or place of gathering and scare away would-be robbers and evildoers.


[1] Since the eighteenth century, by way of example66, dogs have been seen more as companions and family members than in such impersonal roles67 as hunters or guardsmen. [2] From this point in time, the dog has increasingly filled the role of domesticated pet, and according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, 39% of Americans currently own at least one dog, and there are no fewer then68 74 million owned dogs in the United States. [3] Inspired by the ideas of the Enlightenment, a social philosophy evolved that began to treat all individuals as social equals, and people’s attitudes toward dogs begins69 to take on a more personal character.  [4] Dogs came to be prized for their loyalty and sacrifice, and as early as 1855, many have suggested, the American English phrase “man’s best friend” was already commonplace in the language. 


It should be no surprise, then, given this long and progressive history of dog ownership, that people come to think of their dogs more and more as near-human members of their families. Think about all the indispensable, yet underappreciated72 roles that dogs play in our lives—they are not just our pets and “best friends”; they are also indispensable to the practices of law enforcement, firefighting, and assistance to the visually impaired, to name just a few. Although it may seem at first that dogs are just lazy pets, on the one hand73 they are really much more than that. Have a look74 around and you’ll find that dogs are an essential part of our modern society. So what if they’ve got their own hotels and day spas these days—don’t you think they’ve earned them?


     B. dog, and

     C. dog and

     D. dog,

62. Which of the following alternatives to the underlined portion would NOT be acceptable?

     F. that are benefiting

     G. that have benefited

     H. benefiting

     J. that having benefited

63. Given that all of the choices are true, which one would most effectively conclude this paragraph while leading into the main focus of the next paragraph?


     B. Even since these early times, people have recognized the importance of keeping domesticated dogs.

     C. Many argue that the dog has been as important to the unfolding of human history as has the horse.

     D. The dog is a major subspecies of the wolf, and many features of its biological makeup are still similar to those of the wolf.


     G. Unless

     H. Because

     J. Whether


     B. who

     C. whose

     D. who’s


     G. as a consequence,

     H. by contrast,

     J. moreover,


     B. roles,

     C. roles:

     D. roles;


     G. less then

     H. lesser than

     J. fewer than


     B. is beginning

     C. began

     D. had began

70. If the writer were to delete the phrase “take on a more personal character” from the preceding sentence and replace it with the word “change,” the essay would primarily lose:

     F. an important description of a dog-breeding technique.

     G. a detail that indicates how attitudes toward dogs have changed.

     H. information that emphasizes the historical importance of dogs.

     J. nothing, since this detail is the topic of the preceding paragraph.

71. For the sake of logic and coherence, Sentence 2 should be placed:

     A. where it is now.

     B. before Sentence 1.

     C. after Sentence 3.

     D. after Sentence 4.


     G. indispensable yet underappreciated

     H. indispensable; yet underappreciated

     J. indispensable yet underappreciated,


     B. for example

     C. in actuality

     D. more often than not


     G. Having a look

     H. To look

     J. Looking

Question 75 asks about the preceding passage as a whole.

75. Upon reviewing notes for this essay, the writer comes across some information and composes the following sentence, incorporating that information:

Furthermore, many ancient civilizations, Greek and Egyptian among them, used trained war dogs to aid them in battle.

For the sake of the logic and coherence of the essay, this sentence should be:

     A. placed at the end of Paragraph 1.

     B. placed at the end of Paragraph 3.

     C. placed at the end of Paragraph 5.

     D. NOT added to the essay at all.

English Practice
Section 2
Answers and Explanations


  1. A

  2. F

  3. C

  4. J

  5. C

  6. H

  7. C

  8. G

  9. D

10. J

11. C

12. F

13. D

14. G

15. C

16. H

17. A

18. H

19. C

20. H

21. C

22. G

23. C

24. H

25. B

26. F

27. C

28. G

29. C

30. F

31. A

32. J

33. B

34. F

35. C

36. G

37. D

38. G

39. D

40. H

41. C

42. J

43. B

44. H

45. A

46. G

47. D

48. J

49. D

50. F

51. D

52. F

53. C

54. G

55. C

56. H

57. C

58. H

59. A

60. H

61. D

62. J

63. B

64. F

65. C

66. H

67. A

68. J

69. C

70. G

71. D

72. G

73. C

74. F

75. B


Passage I

  1.  A  For this answer choice, you need to recognize the appropriate idiom for this expression. The correct choice depends on which word matches up most effectively with the verb born; in this case, a daughter is born TO her parents, so this is the correct answer.

  2.  F  Here, you should be able to eliminate some answer choices because they’re unnecessarily wordy or redundant. You can get rid of answer choice (G) because it contains the repetitive phrase as a child at the age of six years old and choice (H) because of the phrase leaving her to be an orphan as a young child. Choice (J) contains the redundant phrase the young age of six years old (as opposed to the original’s more concise at age six), so select choice (F) as the best answer choice.

  3.  C  To answer this question correctly, you’ll need to read a bit further to get a clear idea of the main subject of the essay. Once you reach a certain point, you should recognize that Madame Sarah Breedlove Walker is the focus of the essay. Whether the writer should add the sentence about Louis Armstrong depends on whether doing so will add to the reader’s understanding of Madame Walker. Choices (A) and (B) don’t do this, so eliminate them. Choice (D) correctly argues that the writer shouldn’t add this sentence, but its reason for leaving it out doesn’t connect with the rest of the essay.

  4.  J  One way to decide how to punctuate the possessive word its—as in belonging to it—is to remember that it’s always means it is. If you substitute it is in place of it’s here, the sentence doesn’t make sense, so you can eliminate choice (G). There’s no such word as its’, so choice (F) doesn’t work. And you can eliminate choice (H) because of a noun/pronoun agreement problem. The noun for which the plural pronoun their would stand in is St. Louis, a singular noun. Consequently, choice (J) is the correct answer choice.

  5.  C  This question tests the correct idiom to express the passage of time. Choices (A), (B), and (D) are all idiomatically incorrect; only (C) uses the correct expression.

  6.  H  As it stands, the sentence beginning with As well as is a fragment, so eliminate choice (F). Looking at choice (G), you should keep in mind that you use a semicolon only when both sides of the punctuation form complete sentences. Because the as well as part is still a fragment, a semicolon isn’t the correct form of punctuation to use, so choice (G) can’t be right. In choice (J), the ideas are separated by a colon, which is an appropriate form of punctuation either when you’re beginning a list, a definition, or an example. Since as well as in churches and lodges is none of these, you’re left with choice (H).

  7.  C  This question again concerns conciseness. Generally, if you see two who phrases—who worked in the newspaper publishing business and who also lived in St. Louis—look to condense the two ideas. Choice (C) does that, conveying the same information in far fewer words. The other choices are just as wordy as the original and don’t add important details, so choice (C) is the best answer.

  8.  G  The original sentence is a type of run-on sentence sometimes called a comma splice, in which a comma separates two complete sentences or independent clauses. Fixing this problem requires either using a stronger form of punctuation or making one of the clauses dependent on the other. Answer choice (J) makes the same mistake as (F); (G) and (H) both rely on the second strategy, using pronouns to begin the second clause, so your goal is to decide which pronoun is right. And the women are performing the action in the second clause, so you wouldn’t use the object form whom but rather the subject form who, choice (G).

  9.  D  This is another idiomatic expression; to get the right answer, you’ll need to know what preposition is appropriate with her supervision. The idiomatically correct preposition with supervise is under, as in under her supervision. Choice (D) works.

10.  J  The sentence is composed of a complete idea and an incomplete idea, which need to be joined together with punctuation. A semicolon may only be used to separate two complete ideas, so eliminate choice (G). A colon in this situation would require a subject in the second idea in order to make sense. There is no subject, so eliminate choice (H). The phrase using these terms to emphasize…is not describing culturists; it’s explaining why Walker employed those terms, so a comma is needed to make that clear—select choice (J).

11.  C  Transitional sentences between paragraphs should connect an idea or ideas from the previous paragraph to an idea or ideas in the following paragraph. Only choice (C) refers to the action that took place in the preceding paragraph. The others have no clear connection to the context.

12.  F  When a sentence begins with a modifying clause, as is the case here, the verb should appear in its past participle form—e.g., understood, seen, begun. The verb in the modifying phrase here is choose, so look for the past participle form in your answer choices. Choice (G) is in simple past tense, choice (J) is the present participle, and choice (H) isn’t a word. Chosen is the right form, so choice (F) is the correct answer choice.

13.  D  The key phrase in this sentence is these charitable acts. The word these indicates that the passage has discussed charitable acts before this sentence, and that this sentence is referring back to that prior mention. Therefore, only choice (D) makes logical sense, because the paragraph doesn’t mention charity until Sentence 4.

14.  G  As in question 10, this question requires you to notice the change of direction in this sentence and punctuate that change appropriately. You will need some form of punctuation after home, so choice (J) doesn’t work, and choice (H) uses a semicolon, which is incorrect because the clauses following the punctuation don’t form a complete sentence. Choice (F) adds an unnecessary comma after maintaining, which interrupts the connection between that word and what is being maintained. Choice (G) has the proper form.

15.  C  This essay doesn’t stray very far at any point from the life and actions of Madame Walker, so if this passage is meant to discuss the broader subject of the beauty industry in the early twentieth century, it’s too narrowly focused to be successful. Choice (C) most accurately presents the correct judgment—that this essay isn’t effective on these terms—and the most convincing reason for that judgment.

Passage ll

16.  H  Each answer choice will be followed by we were hardly saying a word, which is a complete idea or independent clause. Choices (F) and (J) begin with an incomplete idea and a comma, which are properly followed by a complete idea. Choice (G) is a complete idea followed by a comma and the coordinating conjunction but, which is also properly followed by another complete idea. Choice (H), on the other hand, connects two complete ideas with a comma, which is incorrect.

17.  A  The shortest correct way of saying something is usually the best answer choice. If you are considering adding words, make sure they say something of added value. In this case, the original sentence indicates that this is an ordinary birthday. Choices (B), (C), and (D) are just different ways of redundantly restating that the occasion was typical. They add nothing to the original meaning of the sentence, which gives us no reason to prefer any of them to the original wording.

18.  H  The paragraph is focused on the fact that the narrator and his uncle are having their traditional celebration of the narrator’s birthday, but the uncle’s mood is unusually depressed. Choices (F), (G), and (J) all contribute toward developing that context. Choice (H) is the least relevant to this paragraph, mentioning the narrator’s predilection for a banana split with chocolate ice cream.

19.  C  The intended meaning of the sentence is that the uncle is uneasy about the narrator joining the army rather than going to college. Choice (C) provides the correct placement to achieve that meaning. Choices (A) and (B) incorrectly apply the phrase joining the army to the uncle, whereas the context of the sentence before and after this makes it clear that the narrator is the one joining the army. Choice (D) would make an extremely clumsy ending to the sentence, saying reservations about me rather than joining the army going to college.

20.  H  The fact that the narrator’s father was in the Polish army is necessary to the rest of the paragraph, as the narrator and uncle debate what the narrator’s late father would think of his decision to join the army. This makes choice (H) correct. Choices (F), (G), and (J) are irrelevant or unsupportable ideas.

21.  C  As written, the sentence gets incorrectly divided into two separate clauses. However, the two clauses are part of one continuous idea and should not have punctuation dividing them. The error is similar to writing My uncle asked me; a question. There should be no punctuation interrupting the idea, which makes choice (C) correct and choices (A), (B), and (D) incorrect.

22.  G  When you use the word as in a sentence, you make a comparative statement that requires another as to introduce the second idea of the comparison. Also, the idiom as____________as__________________implies that the things being compared are equal. Choice (G) uses the as/as idiom correctly. Choice (F) is incorrect because you can only use than when comparing unequal things: e.g., more/greater/less/fewer than. It is never correct to use as/than together. Choice (H) introduces more confusion by using an inappropriate homonym of than. The word then is used in conditional statements like if______________, then_____________ or when referring to time periods. Choice (J) would produce a sentence that is incomplete by starting the as________________as________________ idiom without finishing it.

23.  C  Any time you are considering adding something, consider first the purpose of the paragraph. This paragraph is a list of memories the narrator and his uncle shared during the narrator’s childhood in Poland. The sentence in consideration provides a general fact about carnivals in Poland, but it does nothing to add to the list of shared experiences being discussed in this paragraph. Therefore, choice (C) is correct. Choice (A) is incorrect because the topic of the essay is the relationship of the narrator to his uncle. Choice (B) is incorrect because this rather boring detail about carnivals is not crucial information about a Polish upbringing. Choice (D) is incorrect because this detail is NOT explained elsewhere.

24.  H  Use the context of the paragraph to determine which pronoun would be most appropriate. The sentence before this one and other sentences in the paragraph describe things that the narrator and his uncle did together, and this sentence contains the word ourselves. For the sake of consistency, choice (H) would be correct because it identifies the subject as the narrator and his uncle. Choices (F), (G), and (J) refer to a person or persons in general. However, this sentence is a memory that belongs to the narrator and his uncle specifically, which makes those choices incorrect.

25.  B  When you are attaching a phrase to a noun in order to specifically describe it, you do not need to use any punctuation. The sentence is specifically identifying sleeping bags my grandmother had bought. Therefore, choice (B) is correct. It would have also been acceptable to say sleeping bags that my grandmother had bought. However, adding a comma, as choice (D) does, is not acceptable. Choices (A) and (C) also incorrectly separate the clause my grandmother had bought from the noun it modifies, sleeping bags.

26.  F  The two verbs in the underlined portion need to be the same tense as the verb lie in the passage, because all three are things the narrator and his uncle used to do—lie, drink, and listen. Choices (G) and (H) use the incorrect tense drank, and choice (J) uses the incorrect listening. Thus, the sentence is correct as written—choice (F).

27.  C  Just as verb tense has to be consistent within a sentence listing several actions, so too should it be consistent within a paragraph listing several ideas. This paragraph is a list of memories the narrator and his uncle shared during the narrator’s childhood in Poland. Choice (A) is present tense, so it must be incorrect. Because other ideas in this paragraph are expressed in the tense of he would take mewe would gohe and I would race, etc., the consistent and correct verb tense is he would tell me. This makes choice (C) correct, and choices (B) and (D) incorrect.

28.  G  Use the context of the paragraph to determine where this information is most relevant. Sentence 6 discusses the narrator and his uncle rowing canoes and swimming from our dock out to a rock formation and back, so it would be helpful to add the new sentence before this idea in order to let the reader know what body of water they are on. Choice (G) correctly places the sentence before sentence 6. Choices (F), (H), and (J) incorrectly put the sentence in places that do not add any logical clarity.

29.  C  Choice (C) is correct because its is the possessive pronoun that stands in for Poland’s influence. Choice (A) is incorrect because that contraction means it is. The sentence should not read I will never lose track of it is influence on who I am. Choice (B) does not exist in English grammar; its’ is always incorrect. Choice (D) is incorrect because Poland is a singular noun, and therefore it should not be replaced with the plural possessive pronoun their.

30.  F  The question asks you to make the best logical bridge from the preceding sentence, describing the job opportunity that enticed the narrator and his uncle to come to America, and the current sentence, which describes the effect the experience of living in America has had on the narrator. Choice (F) effectively identifies that bridge, transitioning from the uncle being offered a job to the two of them immigrating into the U.S. Choices (G), (H), and (J) include less relevant details about cities in Pennsylvania and the uncle’s status as an engineer. None of these details transition as smoothly as choice (F) into a discussion of the narrator’s experience in America, and therefore they are incorrect.

Passage lll

31.  A  The act of studying occurred in the past prior to the other past tense verb struggled, so it should be in the past perfect tense to demonstrate this, as with choice (A). Choices (B), (C), and (D) do not agree with the past tense of struggled.

32.  J  The phrase as difficult as initiates a comparison. The item following the phrase must correctly agree with enduring, as with choice (J). Choices (F) and (H) contain verb tenses that do not agree with enduring. Choice (G) creates an incorrect phrase of comparison.

33.  B  Choice (B) is the most concise answer that conveys the correct meaning. Choices (A), (C), and (D) skew the intended meaning through excessive wordiness.

34.  F  The phrase under my nose correctly conveys the meaning of “obvious,” so choice (F) is correct. Choice (G) is not quite strong enough to convey the correct meaning. Choices (H) and (J) convey meanings opposite of the intended one.

35.  C  The word liking is a gerund, so it requires an adjective to modify it, eliminating choices (A) and (D), which contain adverbs. Choice (C) correctly modifies the gerund with an adjective and properly completes the idiom take a liking to. Choice (B) improperly completes the idiom.

36.  G  In this sentence, the author accepts the invitations from the previous sentence. This direct relationship between the two sentences negates the need to begin a new paragraph at this point, thus eliminating choices (H) and (J). Choice (F) is unnecessarily wordy. Thus, choice (G) is correct.

37.  D  Choice (D) is the most concise answer that conveys the correct meaning. Choices (A), (B), and (C) skew the intended meaning through excessive wordiness.

38.  G  The remainder of the sentence following the word surprised is part of the same complete thought. Choice (G) correctly identifies this without extra punctuation. Choices (F) and (H) create unnecessary pauses with commas. Choice (J) creates a sentence fragment.

39.  D  The additional sentence is not consistent with the main point of the essay, so it is distracting and should not be added. Thus, choices (A) and (B) are eliminated. Since this idea is not mentioned earlier in the essay, choice (C) can be eliminated as well. Choice (D) is correct because the additional sentence is not necessary to the development of the paragraph.

40.  H  The phrase as karaoke often is is unnecessary information, so it should be offset by commas, thus choice (H) is correct. Choice (F) has no pauses to offset this information, which confuses the flow of the sentence. Choices (G) and (J) do not properly utilize commas to offset the phrase, creating sentence fragments.

41.  C  Since the word number belongs to the word song in the sentence, a possessive is required. Choice (C) correctly uses an apostrophe to show the possession of number by the song. Choice (A) does not contain any possessive. Choice (B) incorrectly pluralizes the song when there should be only one. Choice (D) contains songs’s, which is never used.

42.  J  Choice (J) is correct because the sentence reveals what the rest of the party thought in reaction to the narrator’s gaffe. Choice (F) is incorrect because the miscommunication example is not the main point of the essay; rather, it supports the main point. Choice (G) incorrectly identifies the sentence as an extra example when it is in fact the completion of the only example. The sentence has no contrasting relationship with the initial sentence of the paragraph, so choice (H) cannot be correct either.

43.  B  Choice (B) is the most concise answer that conveys the correct meaning. Choice (A) is wordy because of the use of passive voice. Choice (C) skews the intended meaning by removing the person who has learned the lesson. Choice (D) creates a sentence fragment.

44.  H  Choice (H) emphasizes the existence of other slang differences in the context of the main idea of the essay, so it is the correct choice. Choices (F), (G), and (J) do not create an emphasis on other slang differences among cultures, so they do not answer the question correctly.

45.  A  Choice (A) correctly indicates the author’s main point of learning to understand a foreign culture through interaction. Choice (B) incorrectly identifies the miscommunication as intentional. Choice (C) too narrowly focuses the main point to only the enjoyment of night life. Choice (D) portrays an idea opposite to the main point that involves isolating oneself in a foreign environment rather than interacting.

Passage IV

46.  G  The compound noun in this instance is Pennsylvania hills and mountains. In this sense, since daunting is the only adjective modifying this compound noun, no commas are necessary.

47.  D  Although each of the answer choices suggests the same meaning out of context, in this context, answer choice (D) is the least acceptable alternative, because the phrase in following is not idiomatically correct.

48.  J  As written, this sentence suggests that the old bike belongs to the page, when in fact the old bike belongs to the narrator. Since this essay is written in the first person, only the first-person my is an acceptable substitution, as in choice (J).

49.  D  Since there are no specific grammatical errors in any of the answer choices, choose the most concise answer that preserves the meaning of the sentence. Choices (A), (B), and (C) all contain redundant wording—only choice (D) appropriately removes the redundancy.

50.  F  The reflexive pronoun myself is not necessary in this context and changes the meaning of this sentence. Since the narrator is discussed as living in a specific place in the earlier paragraphs, and this paragraph signals a shift, it must be correct that the narrator is moving out, as in choice (F), rather than moving in, as in choice (J).

51.  D  Choices (B) and (C) change the meaning of the sentence, so they should be eliminated immediately. Since the subject of this sentence is the plural noun bundles (not the singular noun money), the verb in this sentence must be plural as well, as in choice (D).

52.  F  In this sentence, the narrator contrasts a quick 30-minute drive where I grew up with a two-hour drive … in this new place. While the 30-minute drive is a part of this contrast, this specific part of the sentence cannot be said to contrast with in this new place, as choice (H) suggests; rather, 30-minute drive is in a contrasting relationship with two-hour drive. Choices (G) and (J) are not supported by information in the passage.

53.  C  Choice (B) changes the meaning of the sentence, so it should be eliminated immediately. Choices (A), (C), and (D) contain no specific grammatical errors and mean roughly the same thing, so you should pick the most concise answer that preserves the meaning of the sentence. Since resolved and decided mean roughly the same thing in this context, it is redundant to use them both in the same sentence. Only choice (C) fixes this redundancy error.

54.  G  The dependent clause in this sentence is used adjectivally to describe the author’s visit to the attic. Accordingly, the participle fighting is required at the beginning of the clause. The conjunctions listed in choice (F), (H), and (J) obscure the meaning of the sentence.

55.  C  In this sentence, the noun gold-rushers is followed directly by a verb must. No ownership is indicated in the sentence, so eliminate choices (A) and (B). Moreover, you never want to separate the subject and verb with a comma unless there is some appositive clarifying the subject, which there is not in this case, so you can eliminate choice (D).

56.  H  In this context, when the verb began is linked with a second verb, the second verb must be in its infinitive form. Only choice (H) satisfies this condition. Choice (G) contains the word to, but the -ing form of a verb is not part of its infinitive.

57.  C  This sentence gives a list of items: four-dollar-a-gallon gastraffic jams, and the interminable wait. In any list, the items must be listed in a parallel fashion. Use the non-underlined portions as context. Choices (A), (B), and (D) all introduce elements to the third item in this list that are not consistent with the first two items.

58.  H  As written, this sentence is a run-on. Given the answer choices, the best way to fix this sentence is to separate the two independent clauses with the appropriate punctuation. Only choice (H) does this, while choices (F), (G), and (J) preserve the run-on.

59.  A  The word Now at the beginning of the following sentence indicates that some contrast is being set up at the end of the sentence in question with the word freedom. Since only choice (A) gives the word freedom and signals the time-contrast with the word anymore, it provides the best substitute.

60.  H  This essay discusses the writer’s decision to begin riding a bike instead of driving, and it gives some details about the role of biking in parts of the narrator’s life. The essay does not discuss any means of transportation in detail, as in choice (F). The essay does not give any predictions as to the effects of large-scale bike-riding, as in choice (G). Choice (J) is factually incorrect, considering that this essay is more inclined toward biking than driving. Only choice (H) correctly indicates that this essay does not achieve the goal stated in the question and gives the correct reason why not.

Passage V

61.  D  The portion of the sentence before the comma is an introductory, dependent clause starting with Where once it was considered…Therefore, the second part of the sentence will have to be an independent clause if the sentence is to be complete. Choices (A), (B), and (C) all create sentence fragments with the various words they insert. Only choice (D) correctly removes the conjunction and relative pronoun and maintains the comma to show the dependent/independent relationship.

62.  J  Try each answer choice in the sentence. Notice (F), (G), and (H) are all idiomatically correct forms of the verb to benefit. Only choice (J) creates an awkward sentence fragment—it is therefore NOT an acceptable alternative.

63.  B  Paragraph 2 is about the archaeological details regarding the earliest dogs, and Paragraph 3 is about some of the early historical uses people had for domesticated dogs. Choice (A) does not address historical questions; choices (C) and (D) do address historical questions, but they suggest that the following paragraph will discuss the horse and the wolf, respectively. Only choice (B) is appropriately general to relate to both Paragraph 2 and Paragraph 3.

64.  F  Choices (G) and (J) obscure the meaning of the sentence, so they can be eliminated right away. To decide whether you need Although or Because, figure out the relationship between the two parts of the sentence. As you can see, the first part of the sentence talks about many reasons where the second part talks about the primary reason, so the two parts of the sentence are in a contrasting relationship with one another. Only (F), Although, can work.

65.  C  Read the sentence carefully. Notice what comes directly after the underlined portion—primary responsibility. Since this is referring to the primary responsibility that certain dogs had at this time, the correct answer will have to show a possessive relationship. Only choice (C) does this. If you chose (D), be careful—this is the contraction for “who is.”

66.  H  Paragraph 4 gives a brief sketch of how dogs’ relationship to humans changed in the eighteenth century, and thus sets up a contrast with the previous paragraph. Only choice (H) adequately expresses this contrast. Choice (F) cannot work because no example is given; choice (G) cannot work because dogs’ new treatment is not discussed as a consequence; and choice (J) cannot work because moreover is a word that indicates similarity rather than contrast or difference.

67.  A  Without the phrase as hunters or guardsmen, the noun roles is not clearly defined. Thus, roles as hunters or guardsmen should not be separated with any punctuation.

68.  J  Because the number of owned dogs is given as a quantity (74 million), you must use fewer instead of less or lesser, and you can eliminate choices (G) and (H). Now, you need to decide between than and thenthan is a comparison and then is a time or transition word. In this situation, you are comparing 74 million to fewer than 74 million, so you need the comparison word as in choice (J).

69.  C  Because this is talking about an event in the past, you’ll need a past tense verb; therefore, you can eliminate choices (A) and (B). Choice (D) is an incorrect use of the past perfect tense—if past perfect is to be used, the correct form is had begun. Only choice (C) gives the correct tense and conjugation.

70.  G  The phrase gives further modification to the word attitudes, indicating the way these attitudes have shifted. It does not give any description of dog-breeding, as in choice (F), or any discussion of dogs’ historical importance, as in choice (H). Furthermore, it is a necessary part of the sentence and paragraph because it gives the reader a more precise sense of the character of the change in humans’ attitude toward dogs, so you can eliminate choice (J).

71.  D  Notice the phrase this point in time at the beginning of Sentence 2. This indicates that the preceding sentence will need to mention a specific time, so you can eliminate choice (B). Now note the specific times in each sentence. Sentence 1 speaks generally about the 18th century, and Sentence 4 speaks about the year 1855, and the following paragraph discusses dogs in the present tense. Note how Sentence 2 contains the word currentlyand is written in the present tense. Because of this, the sentence will have to appear after Sentences 1 and 4, which discuss earlier times, and in proximity to the following paragraph, which is written in the present tense, so only choice (D) works.

72.  G  Because both indispensable and underappreciated are used to describe dogs in this sentence, there is no need to set either word off with commas—eliminate choices (F) and (J). Choice (H) contains a semicolon, but this cannot work because a semicolon can be used only when the two sentences on either side of it are complete (or independent clauses). Only choice (G) preserves the meaning of the sentence without introducing any unnecessary punctuation.

73.  C  Because the first part of the sentence begins with the word Although, you need something to contrast with the verb seem. Of all the choices, only (C) gives the appropriate contrast with the word actuality. Choices (A) and (D) both seem to indicate contradictions, but they do not contrast adequately with the word seem, and moreover, choice (A) suggests that this is part of an extended contrast (i.e., that there will be an other hand later on). Choice (B) does not signal a contrast, so it can be eliminated.

74.  F  This sentence issues a command which means that Have is actually the main verb of this sentence with an implied You as its subject. Choices (G), (H), and (J) do not use the verb properly, nor do they maintain appropriate parallel structure with the later part of the sentence beginning with and you’ll find.

75.  B  This sentence best fits in Paragraph 3, which discusses the historical uses of domesticated dogs before dogs became primarily house pets in the 18th century. Since the proposed insertion gives an additional example of a way dogs were used before the 18th century, it should be included in Paragraph 3.