ACT English, Reading, and Science

LeafACTers.jpg McGraw-Hill’s Top 50 Skills: ACT English, Reading, and Science

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"This book is a good read even if you don't have to take the ACT."

Edward Fiske, author of the #1 best selling college guide, the Fiske Guide to Colleges


"The specific skills needed for the ACT, confidence building, stress-management, how to avoid careless errors… this book has it covered!"

Laura Frey, Director of College Counseling, Vermont Academy

Former President, New England Association for College Admission Counseling


McGraw-Hill's Top 50 Skills: ACT English, Reading, and Science pinpoints the obstacles you face and provides the skills to eliminate them. The book comes with a pretest so you can identify your weaknesses and then master the essentials for exam success. The skills are presented in easy-to-negotiate two-page spreads with step-by-step examples.

Here’s a sample from the book.

Skill 7

Correct Preposition


The ACT calls this topic “correct idiom.” I love their term; you just don’t hear people using the word “idiom” nearly enough. It makes me think of Monty Python and the Holy Grail when Sir Lancelot receives a call of distress from the singing Prince of Swamp Castle. Lancelot’s squire wants to come along for the daring rescue, but Lancelot says that he must rush the castle “in his own particular… idiom.”


Instead of “correct idiom,” which I can’t say without laughing, I call it “correct preposition.” I do this for two reasons:


1. I’m not sure if I’d have to pay the ACT to use their term.

2. The words that we are looking for are always prepositions, so it’s much easier than looking for the “correct idiom.”


Remember from Skill 2 that prepositions are words like “up,” “above,” “of,” “into,” “on,” “below,” “with,” “by,” “during,” and “until.” You can Google “prepositions” for a full list. When a preposition is underlined, ask yourself if it’s the correct preposition. How do you know? The correct one will make sense and sound smooth. The wrong one will sound weird or jarring. This is another great place to practice trusting your ear. If it sounds jarring, it’s probably wrong. We’ll train on the drills.


Here are some examples:

Correct: Incorrect

Zann went to the movies. Zann went onto the movies.

Giancarlo sat on the couch. Giancarlo sat in the couch.

Malaria is a threat to travelers. Malaria is a threat of travelers.

Focusing on your studies will Focusing with your studies will

bring you success. bring you success.