ACT English Practice Questions

Directions: In the sentences that follow, a section or phrase will be presented in bold. Each question will have several options available as alternatives. Choose the best alternative for the bolded section, or if a question is presented about the bolded part, select the correct answer to the question.

1. In the brilliant glare of the spotlight, focused on the center one of a group of rings on the dirt floor, a man in a silver suit stood proudly, top hat in hand.
A. NO CHANGE
B. center of the rings
C. center one ring
D. center ring

2. Behind the ringmaster, I could see a majestic lion, pacing back and forth between the sides in the cage and snarling at the clowns that stood off to one side.
A. NO CHANGE
B. REMOVE
C. between the sides
D. back and forth

3…..An old gray elephant stood silently, picking up tufts of hay from an open bale beside the flap, munching quietly as the ringmaster spoke to the crowd.What phrase would make the best transition from the previous sentence if substituted for the ellipsis at the beginning of this sentence?
A. Part of the clowns’ halftime act,
B. Waiting for the aerialists to finish,
C. Behind the lion’s cage,
D. A major draw of customers,

4. I sat between my parents in the front row of the circus bleachers, eating salted peanuts and gaping up at the canvas tent that arched over my head like a cloth cathedral.
A. NO CHANGE
B. arched high overhead
C. arched overhead
D. arched high

5. Behind me, I heard kids oohing and aahing at the wonders of the circus. I was eight, and I fell in love with the big top and everything under it right then, even down to the musty sawdust and hay that ground underfoot, so much so that I vowed that someday, I would work under its canvas wings.Which of the following sentences would best continue the personal theme expressed here?
A. As I grew older, I found I had a talent for numbers, and studied accountancy.
B. Twenty years later, I had gone into engineering, and soon went to work for NASA.
C. Throughout high school, I studied acting and drama, and began working with dinner theatre after graduation.
D. It took me several years, but by the time I was 20, I had graduated from clown college and begun working with a small family-run operation.

Note: The next set of questions is based on a passage from How to Tell a Story and Other Essays by Mark Twain.

6. The humorous story depends for its effect upon the manner of the telling; the comic story and the witty story upon the matter.
A. NO CHANGE
B. the telling the comic story
C. the telling-the comic story
D. the telling: the comic story

7. The humorous story may be spun out too grate length, and may wander around as much as it pleases, and arrive nowhere in particular; but the comic and witty stories must be brief and end with a point.
A. NO CHANGE
B. to grate
C. too great
D. to great

8. The humorous story bubbles gently along, the others burst. The humorous story is only a work of art–high and delicate art–and only an artist can tell it; but no art is necessary in telling the comic and the witty story; anybody can do it.
A. NO CHANGE
B. strictly
C. mainly
D. potentially

9. The art of telling a humorous story–understand, I mean by word of mouth, not print-was created in America, and has remained at home. The humorous story is told gravely; the teller does his best to conceal the fact that he even dimly suspects that there is anything funny about it; but the teller of the comic story tells you beforehand that it is one of the funniest things he has ever heard, then tells it with eager delight, and is the first person to laugh when he gets through.
A. NO CHANGE
B. great hurry
C. eager laughter
D. some reluctance

10. And sometimes, if he has had good success, he is so glad and happy that he will repeat the “nub” of it and glance around from face to face, collecting applause, and then repeat it again. It is a pathetic thing to see.
A. NO CHANGE
B. point
C. summary
D. punchlineNote: The next set of questions is based on a passage from Common Sense by Thomas Paine.

11. Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not YET intensely fashionable to procure them general favour; a long habit of not thinking a thing WRONG, gives it a superficial appearance of being RIGHT, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom.
A. NO CHANGE
B. prohibitively
C. sufficiently
D. OMIT

12. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason.
A. NO CHANGE
B. opponents
C. arguments
D. OMIT

13. As a long and violent abuse of power, is generally the Means of calling the right of it in question (and in Matters too which might never have been thought of, had not the Sufferers been aggravated into the inquiry) and as the King of England hath undertaken in his OWN RIGHT, to support the Parliament in what he calls THEIRS, and as the good people of this country are grievously repressed by the combination, they have an undoubted privilege to inquire into the pretensions of both, and equally to reject the usurpation of either.
A. grievously oppressed, and by the combination
B. grievously oppressed by the combination
C. grievously repressed in the combination
D. grievously repressed, and in the combination

14. In the following sheets, the author hath studiously avoided every thing which is personal among ourselves. Compliments as well as censure to individuals make no part thereof. The wise, and the worthy, need not the triumph of a pamphlet; and those whose sentiments are injudicious, or unfriendly, will cease of themselves unless too much pains are bestowed upon their conversion.Which modern term might be substituted for the bolded word?
A. conundrums
B. catharsis
C. complaints
D. conferences

15. The cause of America is in a great measure the cause of all mankind. Many circumstances hath, and will arise, which are not local, but universal, and through which the principles of all Lovers of Mankind are affected, and in the Event of which, their Affections are interested.Suppose the author had chosen to shorten the bolded section to simply read “which are universal.” If the author had done so, this change would have made the sentence more:
A. vague
B. emphatic
C. descriptive
D. formalNote: The next set of questions is based on a passage from The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli.

16. All states, all powers, that have held and hold rule over men have been and are either republics or principalities. Principalities are either hereditary, in which the family has been long established; or they are new. The new are either entirely new, as was Milan to Francesco Sforza, or they are, as it were, members annexed to the hereditary state of the prince who has acquired them, as was the kingdom of Naples to that of the King of Spain.The author wishes to delineate the types and properties of governments that were commonly used in the Western world at the time of this passage’s writing, the late 15th and early 16th centuries. Would this passage fit the author’s desired purpose?
A. No, the author fails to recognize other types of government in his list.
B. Yes, the author has encompassed all types in his introduction.
C. No, the author is defining a political system rather than a government.
D. Yes, the author is defining his terms and establishing an argument.

17. Such dominions thus acquired are either accustomed to live under a prince, or to live in freedom; and are acquired either by the arms of the prince himself, or, of others or else, by fortune or by ability.
A. NO CHANGE
B. or of others, or else
C. or, of others, or else
D. or of others or else

18. I will leave out all discussion on republics, inasmuch as in another place I have written of them at length, and will address myself only to principalities. In doing so I will keep to the order indicated above, and discuss how such principalities are to be ruled and preserved.Suppose the author were to change the bolded section to “inasmuch as I have discussed them in other works.” If the author had made this change, it would have made the sentence more:
A. interesting
B. precise
C. emphatic
D. concise

19. I say at once there are fewer difficulties in holding hereditary states, and those long accustomed to the family of their prince, than new ones; for it is sufficient only not to transgress the customs of his ancestors, and to deal prudently with circumstances as they arise, for a prince of average powers to maintain himself in his state, unless he be deprived of it by some extraordinary and excessive force; and if he should be so deprived of it, whenever anything sinister happens to the usurper, he will regain it.The bolded words in the passage are an example of which parts of speech?
A. adjectives
B. nouns
C. verbs
D. adverbs

20. For the hereditary prince has less cause and less necessity to offend; hence it happens that he will be more loved; and unless extraordinary vices cause him to be hated, it is reasonable to expect that his subjects will be naturally well disposed towards him; and in the total antiquity and duration of his rule the memories and motives that make for change are lost, for one change always leaves the toothing for another.
A. NO CHANGE
B. OMIT
C. total antiquity and total duration
D. antiquity and duration

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