The College Readiness Standards statements are intended to help education professionals understand the meaning of the scores earned on the ACT assessment.

Using the score range achieved on the ACT exam, the College Readiness Standards can help teachers, counselors, parents and students understand their progress in gaining the necessary skills in English, mathematics, reading and science that are needed for success beyond high school.


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College Readiness Standards — English

Topic Development in Terms of

Purpose and Focus Organization, Unity, and Coherence

Word Choice in Terms of Style, Tone,

Clarity, and Economy

13–15 Use conjunctive adverbs or phrases to

show time relationships in simple narrative

essays (e.g., then, this time)

Revise sentences to correct awkward and

confusing arrangements of sentence


Revise vague nouns and pronouns that

create obvious logic problems

16–19 Identify the basic purpose or role of a

specified phrase or sentence

Delete a clause or sentence because it is

obviously irrelevant to the essay

Select the most logical place to add a

sentence in a paragraph

Delete obviously synonymous and wordy

material in a sentence

Revise expressions that deviate from the

style of an essay

20–23 Identify the central idea or main topic of a

straightforward piece of writing

Determine relevancy when presented with a

variety of sentence-level details

Use conjunctive adverbs or phrases to

express straightforward logical relationships

(e.g., first, afterward, in response)

Decide the most logical place to add a

sentence in an essay

Add a sentence that introduces a simple


Delete redundant material when information

is repeated in different parts of speech (e.g.,

“alarmingly startled”)

Use the word or phrase most consistent

with the style and tone of a fairly

straightforward essay

Determine the clearest and most logical

conjunction to link clauses

24–27 Identify the focus of a simple essay,

applying that knowledge to add a sentence

that sharpens that focus or to determine if

an essay has met a specified goal

Delete material primarily because it disturbs

the flow and development of the paragraph

Add a sentence to accomplish a fairly

straightforward purpose such as illustrating

a given statement

Determine the need for conjunctive adverbs

or phrases to create subtle logical

connections between sentences (e.g.,

therefore, however, in addition)

Rearrange the sentences in a fairly

uncomplicated paragraph for the sake of


Add a sentence to introduce or conclude the

essay or to provide a transition between

paragraphs when the essay is fairly


Revise a phrase that is redundant in terms

of the meaning and logic of the entire


Identify and correct ambiguous pronoun


Use the word or phrase most appropriate in

terms of the content of the sentence and

tone of the essay

*28–32* Apply an awareness of the focus and

purpose of a fairly involved essay to

determine the rhetorical effect and suitability

of an existing phrase or sentence, or to

determine the need to delete plausible but

irrelevant material

Add a sentence to accomplish a subtle

rhetorical purpose such as to emphasize, to

add supporting detail, or to express

meaning through connotation

Make sophisticated distinctions concerning

the logical use of conjunctive adverbs or

phrases, particularly when signaling a shift

between paragraphs

Rearrange sentences to improve the logic

and coherence of a complex paragraph

Add a sentence to introduce or conclude a

fairly complex paragraph

Correct redundant material that involves

sophisticated vocabulary and sounds

acceptable as conversational English (e.g.,

“an aesthetic viewpoint” versus “the outlook

of an aesthetic viewpoint”)

Correct vague and wordy or clumsy and

confusing writing containing sophisticated


33–36† Determine whether a complex essay has

accomplished a specific purpose

Add a phrase or sentence to accomplish a

complex purpose, often expressed in terms

of the main focus of the essay

Consider the need for introductory

sentences or transitions, basing decisions

on a thorough understanding of both the

logic and rhetorical effect of the paragraph

and essay

Delete redundant material that involves

subtle concepts or that is redundant in

terms of the paragraph as a whole

* Statements apply to PLAN & ACT only Statements apply to the ACT only



College Readiness Standards — English (continued)

Sentence Structure and Formation Conventions of Usage Conventions of Punctuation

13–15 Use conjunctions or punctuation to join

simple clauses

Revise shifts in verb tense between simple

clauses in a sentence or between simple

adjoining sentences

Solve such basic grammatical problems as

how to form the past and past participle of

irregular but commonly used verbs and how

to form comparative and superlative


Delete commas that create basic sense

problems (e.g., between verb and direct


16–19 Determine the need for punctuation and

conjunctions to avoid awkward-sounding

sentence fragments and fused sentences

Decide the appropriate verb tense and

voice by considering the meaning of the

entire sentence

Solve such grammatical problems as

whether to use an adverb or adjective form,

how to ensure straightforward subject-verb

and pronoun-antecedent agreement, and

which preposition to use in simple contexts

Recognize and use the appropriate word in

frequently confused pairs such as there and

their, past and passed, and led and lead

Provide appropriate punctuation in

straightforward situations (e.g., items in a


Delete commas that disturb the sentence

flow (e.g., between modifier and modified


20–23 Recognize and correct marked disturbances

of sentence flow and structure (e.g.,

participial phrase fragments, missing or

incorrect relative pronouns, dangling or

misplaced modifiers)

Use idiomatically appropriate prepositions,

especially in combination with verbs (e.g.,

long for, appeal to)

Ensure that a verb agrees with its subject

when there is some text between the two

Use commas to set off simple parenthetical


Delete unnecessary commas when an

incorrect reading of the sentence suggests

a pause that should be punctuated (e.g.,

between verb and direct object clause)

24–27 Revise to avoid faulty placement of phrases

and faulty coordination and subordination of

clauses in sentences with subtle structural


Maintain consistent verb tense and pronoun

person on the basis of the preceding clause

or sentence

Ensure that a pronoun agrees with its

antecedent when the two occur in separate

clauses or sentences

Identify the correct past and past participle

forms of irregular and infrequently used

verbs and form present-perfect verbs by

using have rather than of

Use punctuation to set off complex

parenthetical phrases

Recognize and delete unnecessary

commas based on a careful reading of a

complicated sentence (e.g., between the

elements of a compound subject or

compound verb joined by and)

Use apostrophes to indicate simple

possessive nouns

Recognize inappropriate uses of colons and


*28–32* Use sentence-combining techniques,

effectively avoiding problematic comma

splices, run-on sentences, and sentence

fragments, especially in sentences

containing compound subjects or verbs

Maintain a consistent and logical use of

verb tense and pronoun person on the basis

of information in the paragraph or essay as

a whole

Correctly use reflexive pronouns, the

possessive pronouns its and your, and the

relative pronouns who and whom

Ensure that a verb agrees with its subject in

unusual situations (e.g., when the subjectverb

order is inverted or when the subject is

an indefinite pronoun)

Use commas to set off a

nonessential/nonrestrictive appositive or


Deal with multiple punctuation problems

(e.g., compound sentences containing

unnecessary commas and phrases that

may or may not be parenthetical)

Use an apostrophe to show possession,

especially with irregular plural nouns

Use a semicolon to indicate a relationship

between closely related independent


33–36† Work comfortably with long sentences and

complex clausal relationships within

sentences, avoiding weak conjunctions

between independent clauses and

maintaining parallel structure between


Provide idiomatically and contextually

appropriate prepositions following verbs in

situations involving sophisticated language

or ideas

Ensure that a verb agrees with its subject

when a phrase or clause between the two

suggests a different number for the verb

Use a colon to introduce an example or an


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