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3 Tricks for Remembering Grammar Rules on the ACT and SAT

The ACT and SAT love to test students on tricky grammar rules. Both exams are especially fond of small but difficult to master concepts such as homophones (words with the same pronunciation but different spellings and meanings) and apostrophe usage. If you are struggling with these kinds of pesky grammar rules on the ACT or SAT, the following tricks will help you to remember and (if necessary) work around them.


Create Sample Sentences

If you’re having trouble with commonly-confused words, create and memorize sentences designed to illustrate the difference:


Our [possessive] team’s colors are [verb] blue and orange.


They’re [they are] attending their [possessive] SAT class in the room over there [place].


Avoid Contractions

Showing possession with nouns and pronouns can be a confusing concept because nouns and pronouns follow “opposite” rules. A possessive noun always takes an apostrophe, but a possessive pronoun never takes an apostrophe. This makes it easy to confuse possessive pronouns with contractions.


One easy way to cut down on pronoun vs. contraction mistakes is to avoid using contractions altogether. Always use “it is” instead of “it’s” in your own writing, and rewrite “it’s” and “they’re” as “it is” and “they are,” respectively, in English/Writing section passages.


Work around Rules

If you do blank on a particular grammar rule on the ACT or SAT, try rewriting the sentence to work around the rule:


The students’ council is meeting in room 200.


The council of students is meeting in room 200.


Both of these sentences have the same meaning. However, the second does not require you to remember whether “students” should be a singular or plural possessive noun. Once you have figured out that “students” should always be plural no matter the exact phrasing of the sentence, you can work backwards to determine that the apostrophe should be after the “s” in the first sentence.

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